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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Christmas at National Trust's Charlecote Park

Trees arriving, decorations going up, It must be nearly Christmas! I have to say I love seeing the build up to Christmas at Charlecote. I like to watch the preparations from start to finish as I never quite know how it will look when it's done. Like last year, I had decided to try and record as much of the preparations as possible in photos to share with you all. hope you enjoy them.

The arrival of the trees is an exciting time. I think it takes most people back to their childhood.

Here is Jess to inspect the trees and make sure Paul has picked some nice ones.

                        I thinks she is happy with Paul's choice :)

I have to say it looked like a mini forest outside Charlecote House for a little while!
I love real Christmas trees, they definitely take me back to my childhood. I can remember my Grandfather coming back with a tree every year. He always hung it upside down outside our bedroom window for about a week or so before it came in the house to be decorated. This was supposed to help stop the needles dropping so quickly. There was the biggest nail in our window ledge just for that reason alone!

I am drifting off with memories again but isn't that what Christmas is also about? Remembering past Christmases, good times had and making new memories for the future years with time spent with those who mean the most to us. Making memories. Often these days it is the one time a year families get together properly so these memories stay with us forever. Now I must get back to Charlecote's Christmas :)

Here is a short video of the trees arriving too.

Once all the trees were where they are supposed to be, the Park and Garden team went off for a well earned break  and Julie, Jess and their excellent team of staff and volunteers, started the decorating.

All smiles from the girls, They have worked so hard getting everything ready and done an excellent job. There must have been so much thought and planning gone into this Christmas and with many of the decorations being hand-made, a lot of patience and time too.

There is always that bit that's just hard to reach but Julie does it! :)

And the final touches. Presents wrapped the Victorian way in brown paper with pretty ribbons.

The dining room tree getting dressed.

                                                           Nearly there.

The garden volunteers have also helped to decorate.

This years Christmas at Charlecote is based around the Twelve Days of Christmas but not the one most of us know. It is the Twelve Days of Christmas as it would have been in the Victorian times. 

The date for Charlecote's Victorian Christmas is 1842. The lovely thing about this is that each tree has been decorated featuring one of these twelve days of Christmas. It has also been put together into a Christmas tree trail for children........... And adults if you wish :) 

This is the Twelve Days of Christmas as it was in 1842. It is a little different from the one we know today but I think I prefer it.

                                          A Partridge in a Pear Tree.
                                               Two Turtle Doves.
                                               Three French Hens
                                                Four Canary Birds.
                                                Five Gold Rings.
                                              Six Geese a laying.
                                           Seven Swans Swimming
                                             Eight Ladies dancing.
                                           Nine Lords a leaping.
                                               Ten Ships a sailing.
                                            Eleven Ladies spinning.
                                              Twelve Bells ringing.

Can you guess which of the twelve days of Christmas each tree is from the pictures? Here are just a few.

I got to cut and hang these ships on this next tree so I did my bit :)...... I have done nothing compared to the house team. They really haven't stopped and what a beautiful job they have done. This year the weather has put such a dampener on the Christmas weekends everywhere but once you walk inside Charlecote, it is easy to forget the dismal weather outside and get into the Christmas spirit. It really is beautiful.

The book tree is great, don't miss it. I love this idea!

Everyone always wants to see the dining room all dressed for Christmas and here it is. Again beautifully dressed. I photographed it with half of the shutters closed to give you that darker evening look they would have had when sitting down for their meal. This is the light the house team often work in to protect the contents. No romantic candle lights for them though!

This is how it would have looked in the day time.

Isn't it all gorgeous?


The table as always looks amazing!

The drawing room looks lovely too. You can really imagine children playing in here.

Take a close  look at the tree in this room. It is from the 'Twelve days of Christmas, 'Eleven ladies Spinning'. One of the house conservationists Judith made these, like many of the other hand made items on the trees you see as you walk around. The time and effort she must have put into making all these things, I can only imagine.

                                                              'Ladies Spinning'


The Great Hall with it's cosy new fire. This year it was decided that instead of having one large tree, they would have two slightly smaller trees in the Great Hall and I think it works really well. I like it both ways. I wonder what they will do next year?

Traditional Victorian presents wrapped in brown paper with pretty ribbons.

I went up a ladder to take this shot for you :)

This fire is brilliant! I love it! It changes the complete atmosphere in the room.

It looks so real too, even sounds it!

Here is a short video I recorded of the new fire.

Talking about cosy fires...... one of the most popular rooms in the house has to be the Victorian Kitchen which really brings history to life. I am not often in the house but when I am, it's the kitchen you can find me in. With a hot open fire, friendly welcoming volunteers in Victorian costumes and the smell of something nice cooking on the fire, it gets me every time! I am often drawn into the kitchen by the smell as I pass the door by the scullery. I have to go and check what's cooking! Yes I am nosey too :) As many of you know, apart from photography, cooking in also a great passion of mine. I used to cook before I became a full time carer, now I cook for pleasure. 

I watched so many people making toast by the open fire, it made it feel so homely and took me back again to when I was a child. I used to love making toast this way, it tasted so different, so much better!

Even the lovely Susan made herself some toast :) Susan many of you might know as she is also a volunteer photographer for the National Trust but at Calke. I caught up with her while she was visiting Charlecote last weekend and I just had to take a photo! Some of you will also know her from Stoneywell. A lovely lady. Here is a link to her blog......

Just some of the lovely ladies you might meet in the kitchen.

There are gents too :)

I love the effort people have made dressing up in Victorian clothes, I think it adds so much more to the whole experience.

Even the shop staff and volunteers have dressed up. I think they all look fantastic! Next year I think I might join them :)

And here are some of the goodies they have been cooking with the help of many visitors.

Victorian mince pies before the tins we make them in today.

Making the pastry.

Truffles, these are yummy!

Peppermint creams.

   And sugar mice to name just a few things little fingers can have a go at.

While we are talking about food...The Orangery has some lovely Winter warmers and yummy treats :) 

In the scullery which leads to the kitchen, children were also making lavender bags with a very old sewing machine, having to turn the handle to operate it. No electric sewing machines in those days!

The Scullery tree with it's parcels of goodies and spiced apple juice. I think it's the little touches like this that make the complete picture and Charlecote do this very well.

A little 'Rag Rug. making anyone?

I am always amazed how good these look when finished.

Don't miss the outbuilding either, you might catch the laundry maids in action and have a go yourself.

Or have a little taster of mulled wine, offered by these lovely Victorians

If you have a few hours to spare and like dressing up, why not step back in time at Charlecote and volunteer too. You get to see more of what happens behind the scenes like I do :) If you are interested in volunteering contact the lovely Rosie ( Charlecote's Visitor Welcome and Volunteering Manager) at

Back to Christmas again. As you can tell, I easily get side tracked :) 

Don't miss the tree in the Gatehouse, all the beautiful stars were made by Shrubland Street Primary School children and there is also a post box to send your messages to Santa........yes adults too!

One of the most important parts of Christmas for many people, especially the children, is seeing Father Christmas. Father Christmas is in the Summer House this year. If you haven't been able to book a visit with him, look through the window and give him a wave, he might just wave back to you. 

Father Christmas reading his naughty list.

You might even catch him popping out to check on his deer.

Santa's helpers all dressed up. Mary has done an amazing job with these costumes.

While at Charlecote, Santa's sledge was being repaired in the workshop so Julie gives him a ride in the buggy.

And his helpers of course :) Modern meets Victorian :)

I think all the staff and volunteers at Charlecote Park have done a fantastic job in the planning, getting things ready and also on the days themselves. It's what gets me into that Christmas mood and I love it!

Don't forget to take a look at my Gingerbread Charlecote in reception on your way in or out. More on that in my next blog but here are a few photos for now. You can click on the images to enlarge them if you would like to see more detail.

Hope you have enjoyed my Christmas blog this year and thank you for reading it to the end. It is a little long but how do you get so much into a short blog?

                                            MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.

                                                        Copyright Jana Eastwood         


  1. Thank You! Looks lovely. Hope to visit some day!

  2. Christmas Eve is my favorite. Love doing the decorations and celebrating with dear ones. Last festive week celebrations were amazing. Had dinner and luncheon at one of the affordable venues in Los Angeles with friends. Got to know about many new dishes and desserts prepared over there. Will surely visit another one next time.