English country houses to visit this Christmas
Every year, the ground floor of the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight is decorated with the traditions of a Victorian Christmas. (Press Association, Jeff Overs / BBC)
‘Tis the season to wrap up warm and celebrate the festive season through the ages.
Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Find out how families pulled together during the war years to celebrate the festive season with this 1940s thrifty Christmas. The dining room, drawing room and bedrooms will be dressed as they would have been on a 1940s Christmas morning, with relevant music. Activities include make do and mend workshops. Christmas at Hardwick, 3 to 4 December, 11 to 3 pm.
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
The ruins of Kenilworth are best known as the home Elizabeth I’s great love Robert Dudley, who transformed the castle into a Renaissance palace to impress his queen. In true Elizabethan style, Kenilworth is hosting a Tudor Christmas with historical re-enactment group Heuristics, who will give interactive presentations about Tudor Christmas traditions, games, decorations and food. A Tudor Christmas, 17 to 18 December, 10 am to 4 pm.
Alfriston Clergy House, Sussex
For an authentic medieval Christmas, head to the 14th-century Alfriston Clergy House, the first house to be acquired by the National Trust. There won’t be a Christmas tree (that came later) but you’ll see how a country house was decorated in the Middle Ages, with lots of holly, ivy, mistletoe and garlands of apples and nuts festooning the walls. Medieval Christmas, 3 to 18 December, 11 am to 4pm.
Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought this Italianate palace in 1845, and the queen spent almost every Christmas there after Albert’s death in 1861, until her own death in 1900. So every year, in her honour, the ground floor is decorated with the traditions of a Victorian Christmas. Visitors can enjoy singing chimney sweeps, Victorian fairground stalls, street games and A Christmas Carol pantomime. A Victorian Christmas, 19 to 20 November, 10 am to 4 pm.
Upton House, Warwickshire
Witness how the “downstairs” inhabitants celebrated Christmas in the 1930s at the Servants Christmas Ball. Based on oral testimony and house records from the era, Upton House will be hosting a party traditionally held for its staff, and guests can marvel at the long gallery, decorated with paper chains, and take part in 1930s dancing demonstrations. Servants’ Christmas Ball, 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18 December, 12 to 3:30 pm