Eythrope was bought in the 1870s by a branch of the Rothschild family, and belongs to them to this day. The main house built by Lord Rothschild nearby, Waddesdon Manor, now belongs to the National Trust.
Once there was a village here by the name of Ethorp, which was lost in the Middle Ages
The old hamlet and the hall take their name from the Old English for "island farm", referring to an island in the River Thame that flows by the hamlet. The mediæval village of Eythrope is deserted and all that remains are some earthen banks and ditches on the eastern side of Eythrope Park.
There was a manor house at this hamlet as early as 1309, when it was the home of the Arches family. It was extended in 1610 by Sir William Dormer. By the late 18th century it became one of the homes of Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl of Chesterfield, though he rarely used it, and it became empty and desolate.
In 1875 the manor at Eythrope was bought by Alice de Rothschild for £180,000. She had been born in Frankfurt in Germany, the youngest of the seven children of Baron Anselm von Rothschild. She was the favourite child and inherited a large estate in Germany while still a minor. Orphaned young, she spent a lonely childhood living with various relations and eventually made her home with her widowed brother Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. When he built his country house Waddesdon Manor, she moved in with him. They were both fastidious perfectionists, with strong wills. If she advised over the designs for Waddesdon, it is doubtful he heeded them. Hence in 1875 he encouraged her purchase of Eythrope perhaps to give them both a little space.
Alice had suffered from rheumatic fever; the medical advice was that damp was dangerous, so it is surprising she built at Eythrope around which the river Thame curves. Alice's solution was simple, the house would be built without bedrooms, hence she would never be tempted to sleep there, and would return the four miles to Waddesdon every evening when the damp air came off the river.
For her architect she spurned Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, who had designed Waddesdon, and instead chose one of the family's other favourite architects George Devey. Devey had worked at Ascott House, Aston Clinton House and Mentmore Towers. Usually Devey designed the estate cottages, schools and village halls on the Rothschild's estate villages. He usually worked in a low domestic Jacobean style, rather than the flamboyant extravaganzas of some of the family mansions. Ascott House was almost entirely his work. Eythrope was something of a deviation from his usual style, it is a mixture of his usual Jacobean coupled with French renaissance in a low style of Waddesdon, especially noticeable on the concave roof to the round tower, and the gable on the garden facade which are particularly reminiscent of Waddesdon.
The new house at Eythrope was not built on the site of the old manor, but in a field near the river, and was constructed of pale pink bricks, with turrets and gables. It contained drawing and dining rooms (lit by large bay windows), kitchen and staff rooms. Because of its small size the house was christened "The Pavilion" or the "Water Pavilion". With climbing plants and roses covering the walls, it was one of the most charming of the Rothschild properties in Britain. As in other Rothschild homes "le style Rothschild" pervaded, French furniture, porcelain and fine paintings were collected to enhance the rooms. Padded banquettes and armchairs added to the comfort.
The gardens were laid out with formal bedding, specimen trees and manicured parkland; punts were put on the river for the amusement of Baron Ferdinand's house-parties who would drive over, in summer, from Waddesdon for afternoon tea, and a guided tour which included the Egyptian spring at Hartwell, and a grand temple at nearby Sedrup.
A large stable block, resembling a turreted, half timbered mansion, was designed by W. F. Taylor in what was known as "le style Normand". An example of this unusual style is the (more accessible to the public) Five Arrows Hotel at Waddesdon. Today, it is amazing that such a large stable and service block should be built to house the staff and horses of such a small house.
In late 1898, following the death of Baron Ferdinand, Alice inherited Waddesdon Manor, the conservation of which became her passion. The Pavilion was still maintained but now as even more of an occasional retreat. As her health declined she spent more of her time at her magnificent "Villa Victoria" on the French Riviera. Always a strong willed woman, she became something of a tyrant in old age. During World War I she had the formal gardens at Waddesdon and Eythrope given over to the growing of vegetables for the less fortunate.
In 1922 following the death of Alice de Rothschild, The Pavilion was enlarged by her heirs, Dorothy and James Armand de Rothschild (they added a large wing with bedrooms and bathrooms) and then let it to Syrie Maugham, an interior decorator who was the former wife of the novelist Somerset Maugham.
In the 1950s the Rothschilds decided to give Waddesdon Manor, which they also had inherited, to the National Trust and move to the smaller pavilion themselves. The house was then again improved and modernised (as much as post war building regulations allowed). James de Rothschild died in 1957, before the house was ready. Following the transfer of Waddesdon, his widow Dorothy moved to Eythrope — taking with her some of the more comfortable furniture and a few favourite things from Waddesdon. It was to be her country home for nearly forty years.
Dorothy de Rothschild died in 1988 aged nearly 100. She left the estate and Pavilion to her husband's great nephew, Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild. The house is the last of the Buckinghamshire Rothschild houses to remain in Rothschild hands. It remains very much a private home.
- Location map: 51°49’12"N, 0°52’48"W
- "– Aylesbury LCA 9 Waddesdon Eythrope (LCT 2)". Aylesbury Vale Environmental Character Assessment Landscape Character Assessment. Aylesbury Vale District Council & Buckinghamshire County Council. pp. Page 1. http://www.aylesbury.gov.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id=fAAxADEANgAzAHwAfABGAGEAbABzAGUAfAB8ADAAfAA1. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
- "Evidence Card 10 – Village at Eythrope". Mediæval Life. Buckinghamshire County Council. http://apps.buckscc.gov.uk/eforms/mediæval_life/Loaction_Cards.doc. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
- "History". Waddesdon News. http://www.waddesdonnews.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=11&Itemid=6. Retrieved 2009-09-18.