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Monday, 25 November 2013

Coughton Court's Winter Festival

I was in the middle of writing a very different type of blog about Coughton Court which included a little history about the place and my favourite time of year to go. However I visited Coughton today (Sunday) and saw other things I couldn't wait to tell you about so you will have to wait for that blog until a little later.

 I arrived at Coughton Court just after it had opened Sunday morning and already the car park was filling up. When ever I see a full car park anywhere other than at a National Trust property, I dread it to be honest as I am not one for busy places. Luckily, it does not matter how many cars you get at a National Trust property, there seems to always be room for everyone to have their own space when walking around the grounds or the house. I guess it's a little like Dr Who's Tardis, bigger than it always seems, you have to wonder where all the people go?

As soon as I arrived, I was given a ticket to enter the house, I didn't have to wait long, only 5 minutes before seeing the Christmas decorations :)

 From the very moment you enter Coughton Court, you are transformed into the magical world of Christmas. Christmas tree number one is there right in front of you and you will see many more as your tour the house. As you wander up the staircase and through each room, you will see a touch of Christmas everywhere.

It really was a lovely visit,  I liked the way everything was decorated in a more traditional way, even Father Christmas was dressed in a Traditional English green cloak and not as he is in the modern take in the red and white that Coca-Cola made famous. Many people think this company invented the red and white father Christmas but they did not. It was actually a German born man, Thomas Nast who lived in America who invented the modern father Christmas as we know him today, through his cartoons which were drawn many years before Coca-Cola used their image.

In many European Countries, St Nicolas is celebrated on the 6th of December or on the 'eve of ' which is the 5th. I know in a few northern European countries, children get their presents on St Nicolas instead of at Christmas. Being of European birth myself, I have the best of both Worlds and celebrate everything the Czech and the English way. In the Czech Republic on the eve of St Nicolas, children are visited by St Nicolas, an angel and a devil, the angel representing good and the devil evil. If the child has been good, they receive chocolate or sweets, if bad then a lump of coal. My children don't get visited by these three characters but they do always get a treat. This link explains it a little more..
As for Christmas, we celebrate Christmas Eve as the Czechs do with a feast and just one present  to open to keep the tradition going. On Christmas Day,we celebrate the English way with the main presents given then of course the big Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Best of both worlds like I said :)

 In years gone by, St Nicolas and Christmas were made into one event as they were so close together. It is thought that the artist who invented the red and white Santa of today, based it on the St Nicolas figure he had known as a boy rather than that of Father Christmas himself.

I got to spend a little time listening to this lovely lady below playing Christmas Carols on the piano, it just added to the atmosphere of the day.

Back to Coughton as I got a little carried away with Santa :) I did actually get to see him today but Santa's Grotto was a little dark so my photo of him did not come out too well as no flash is allowed in these old properties. I might have to go back and do that room again but this time with a tripod. I will see when I go through all my photos.

Not the best photo of Father Christmas but just to prove I did actually see him.

My favourite room today had to be the dining room. It was so beautifully dressed, I have to admit I spent more time in this room than any other. Every room was beautifully dressed but the dining room, well that was really special. I could have happily sat down at that table and eaten a fine Christmas dinner, ringing my bell for service,well it was all dressed for the occasion :)

                                  The beautifully dressed table set for Christmas

The tree in the diningroom

And of course the fireplace.There is something really nice about an open fire in the winter and especially at Christmas.

Now for Santa's Grotto, as I said it was a little dark in here so I did the best I could as far as taking photos.

Lots of photos today because there was lots to see.

After leaving the house I spent sometime in the Courtyard which was full of lots of different stalls, after a coffee of  course. One stall was run by a lovely lady called Mrs Morris who made everything herself and was knitting more things as we spoke.She had lots of old style proper Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree made of nuts. I will have to add a few pictures so that you can see what I mean.

Here are a few of the other things she made.

I bought some of these for my Christmas tree, they smell amazing!

Her knitted Christmas puddings

A few more Christmassy things on her stall. As you can tell I really liked a lot of what she had.

Look at the little knitted Santa :)

There were many other Christmas themed stalls too and for all you chocolate lovers and sweet-toothed people, something for you too!


Am I being a little naughty teasing you with lots of yummy food pictures? Oh well, here are some more  :)


I am sure these two were at Waddesdon Manor chilly festival, I will have to check through my photos. Lots of smiles today :)

I wonder what this man was saying at the time? how big?

This is sweet heaven for some.

There seemed to be some fun with trying on hats.

                                             A few of the other stalls.

The courtyard at Coughton Court.

Coughton Court's own National Trust shop was also full of lots of Christmas items, ideal for presents or to decorate your house or tree. You should be able to find the same items in most of the National Trust estates. I will cover them more when I do Christmas at Charlecote Park next week.

The garden was closed but I still got to see some of the Autumn colours.

Seeing a historical house all dressed up for Christmas is something quite special, it's all about traditions and this is the one time of the year I really enjoy. As I get older,I see things differently like I guess we all do. I have now gone back to the older way of celebrating the Christmas Season and enjoy making things to hang on my tree and to give as presents. To me it's the thought and effort gone into something and not how much someone can spend which is important. Spending time with loved ones and close friends is what I love about this time of year more than anything else. I wasn't feeling Christmassy at all until my visit to Coughton today but I have come home and now starting to get into the spirit of things and also looking forward to revisiting a few other properties to see Christmas in them too.

If you want to get lost in the magical Christmas feeling, Coughton Court will not disappoint you. I really enjoyed my visit today. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog and looking at my pictures.

Here is a link to the Winter Festival and Coughton Court itself.


  1. Beautiful photos - I was thinking of going to Coughton Court for the Winter Festival and now I definitely will :)

    I so agree with you about how lovely National Trust properties look when decorated for Christmas - I've been to Baddesley Clinton the last two Christmases and it looks wonderful :)

    Thanks for tip re: ISO for indoor photos. It only goes up to 1600 on my camera and gives very noisy photos which are still blurred :( Am thinking of perhaps trying out a monopod to see if that helps. (Tripods are too cumbersome I think to take round a House).

    Thanks for a really lovely post :)

  2. Thank you for reading it and really pleased you enjoyed it.

    I haven't seen Baddesley all dressed up for Christmas but will go this year I think.

    I agree with the tripod and to be honest I hate carrying it around but sometimes when you really want a good photo in low light, you don't have much choice. The 2nd camera I use only goes up to 1600 iso and would not have been able to take many of these shots without some extra help.. My main camera goes up to 6400 iso expandable to 12,800 if ever needed but I have never used it that high.

    I do actually have my monopod that lives in my car as it doubles up as a hiking stick, Probably gets more use like that too :) not a bad idea though.

  3. Thanks for advice. Not a lover of tripods myself especially as I tend to keep falling over the legs :) I'll try the monopod idea I think - hopefully it will help produce better shots than I normally get!!!

    Baddesley is well worth a visit - the decorated house looks lovely. I do hope you enjoy if you manage to visit :)

  4. I will have to visit Baddesley now :) I always visit these properties around Christmas but just for a walk around the grounds. I am determined to see inside this year :)
    Next on my list is Charlecote and Waddesdon Manor to see their decorations but Waddesdon needs more time as it's quite a bit further away .I might have to wait for that one a little bit.

  5. After seeing your lovely photos this morning I persuaded my chauffeur to take me to Coughton for a couple of hours (he was supposed to be working, but as he never takes a lunch hour and often doesn't get home till gone 9pm I think he deserves a break.) It was beautiful and I took lots of pics, bumped up the ISO (mine goes to 3200 then "Hi") and they seem ok although not as good as yours. You just seem to have the knack of getting more interesting angles which I never even think of! The market wasn't there today but we were treated to four Christmas songs by about 20 children from years 5 and 6 (I think) of a local school in the big hall, which added a bit of extra Christmas magic. Many thanks for telling us about it, a good afternoon out.

  6. hahahahahah Bobby that made me laugh and yes your husband deserved a break, besides a couple of hours is a lunch break isn't it? :):)

    I am really pleased you went and enjoyed it, I think the market is back this weekend but what an added bonus to hear the children sing, that must have been lovely.

    I bet you have some lovely photos, as for mine, I don't know what I do different, maybe it's just the artist in me as I see everything as I would like to paint it and take the photo that way.
    So pleased you had a lovely time :) x