The Aviary, Aylesbury

“The grotto and the aviary they could view,
And see the parrots of every hue –
Splendid birds in green and blue”

From the 1883 report of the ‘Baron’s Treat’, Bucks Advertiser


Waddesdon Manor is an impressively opulent grand manor house built for weekend entertaining by the Rothschild Family.

The Sounding Space at Waddesdon Manor offers NISG a unique opportunity to investigate how subterranean human activity can cause the percolation of sound into the Earth.

Early investigations by NISG have detected an exciting range of percolated sonic phenomena that appear to have been generated. These include:

Conversational phenomena Voices of the house guests, servants and labourers and foremen who levelled the hill top upon which Waddesdon’s grounds sit
Melodic phenomena             Music, from the house or parties in the grounds (also bird song)
Ambient phenomena                        Water (from nearby fountains), significant bird song

Up until the latter part of the 19th century, there was no house, park or garden at Waddesdon, only a bare hill that had been stripped of its timber. The foundation stone was laid on 18 August 1877, and the site was quickly transformed and landscaped ‘from scratch’.
The first house party was held in May 1880 with seven of Ferdinand's close male friends enjoying a grand fireworks display. This was the commencement of many years of frequent and elaborate parties. 

Waddesdon is the ultimate party house.

To create the gardens, extensive landscaping of the hill was carried out, including levelling the top to create a flat space on which to build. The NISG posit, that building work in the environs of this park has stimulated conversational, melodic, ambient and proto-historic sonic phenomena through its disturbance of the incline’s underlying strata. This fortunate occurrence offers the NISG an opportunity to record and analyse the effect such significant earthworks have on sonic phenomena in a way which has been hitherto impossible. 

Art works and statues pepper the landscape. The gardens were enhanced with a rockery constructed with limestone rock which would have been easy to come by as significant amounts were excavated in the levelling of the hilltop. In his ‘Red Book’ Ferdinand also made reference to the ‘deep gash’ in the side of Lodge Hill when he first bought the property in 1874. This gash, he remarked, the result of limestone quarrying, proved ‘most useful in the construction of rockeries”.

The Sounding Space lies near to the historic cast-iron aviary which was inspired by 18th-century pavilions at the Palace of Versailles and Chateau de Chantilly, as well as his childhood home at Grüneburg. It was completed in 1889. Ferdinand was a keen animal lover. He stocked the aviary with exotic birds and enjoyed feeding them for his guests.

The aviary's paint and gilding were restored in 2003 and it now houses endangered species with a focus on breeding programs particularly of ground nesting doves, such as the bleeding heart dove.

NOTE: Conversational, melodic and ambient sonic phenomena arising from percolation of this sound-activity have formed the basis of initial NISG explorations in this area. Melodic and conversational phenomena have been detected by Ear Trumpet technology within the background sound profile of the Waddesdon Sounding Space.


Waddesdon is one of a number of outlier hills (including Brill, Whitchurch, Stone, Chilon and Ashendon Hills) which are capped by harder resistive sansdtones and limestones. The hills are only present because of the resistant capping provided by the Whitchurch Sandstone and Portland Stone (which underlies the Whitchurch Sandstone). Together they produce a hard layer, which proves very resistant to erosion. The clays around these hills have been eroded down to form the lower clay vales, which are a distinctive a feature of this part of Buckinghamshire. The geomorphological aspect of this combination of rock type and erosion has produced a highly aesthetic landscape.

The indigenous geology can be seen in the construction materials of the village, which incorporate collections of locally sourced stone including Whitchurch Sandstone and Portland Limestone.

The Whitchurch Sandstone is from the lowermost Cretaceous period (138-131 million years old). In this part of Buckinghamshire, ferruginous sandstone with ironstones layers and the more cemented lithologies, (generally red and iron-rich sandstones), have been used in many of the older buildings and numerous walls in the villages surrounding Waddesdon.

The layer of hard Portland Stone offers up plentiful ammonites and a CHALK SEAM runs from Norfolk to Dover underneath Waddsdon. Large pockets of flint are found within this chalky seam. Chalk is well-known for it’s sonic porosity due to the alluvial formation of this rock type.


There seems scant archeological data on this specific site, which is surprising when considering the strategic nature of this point in the landscape (ie. the top of a hill).  That said, the surrounding countryside is rich with evidence of tumuli and Roman settlements.

Aylesbury itself is build on an Iron Age hill fort dating from the early 4th century BC. It was one of the strongholds of the ancient Britons, from whom it was taken in the year 571 by Cutwulph, brother of Ceawlin, King of the West Saxons.

During the Civil War, the ‘Battle of Aylesbury’ took place just five or so miles from the Waddesdon site on the 1st November 1642 at Holmans Bridge near the river Thame. During this battle, some 500 of Prince Rupert’s men died, and 90 Parliamentary forces, Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Parliamentarians were victorious.

A great deal of building work has taken place at Waddesdon in the past 130 years or so. It has been suggested that this construction work (which has involved earthworks and the excavation of the top of a hill, akin to slicing off the top of a soft-boiled egg) may also have released detectable sonic phenomena, in the manner of repeated echo-type, induction, and auricular events.

NOTE: Sonic Geology clearly benefits from the subterranean disruption caused by such commercial building activity in terms of the release of new data and the stimulation of hitherto unknown Deep Stratum sonic activity.
However, some experts in the field also believe that the phenomena themselves could be permanently erased from the geological sound profile by such activity. A recent, internally divisive, NISG motion led to a slim majority decision that the Society should express its concern to the relevant authorities on this issue. In the case of Waddesdon, although a blink of an eye in geological terms, to quote International team member Dr. Wolfgang Lovejoy of Wisconsin University “it’s a bit late to complain when it’s been there for 140 years already”.

The NISG have long been involved in research surrounding the extent to which archaeological objects may emit charged sonic signals that have been stored within them as a result of human possession and transportation. The initial findings in the Waddesdon Sounding Space suggest that there is a growing amount of evidence to support the hypothesis that some objects do channel specific resonances into the earth, specifically clocks, high chiming bells and mechanical elephants.