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FRIDAY, 16TH DECEMBER 2011
Christmas Stately Homes


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Decking our halls in time for Christmas is no mean feat; especially if you've a five-course dinner to plan; additional chairs to source and kids to ferry to and from Christmas parties. Fortunately, the season of tinsel and goodwill also brings with it a plethora of festive distractions - such as Britain's stately heritage houses. From supping mulled wine 'neath the gaze of Winston Churchill, to Victorian fairs and 'Casino Royale' inspired Christmas balls; Britain's stately homes serve up a wondrous array of traditional treats, guaranteed to lift any flagging Christmas spirit!

 

Ripley Castle, Harrogate, Yorkshire
Home to the Ingilby family for over 700 years, Ripley Castle has a few time-honoured traditions, including its annual Christmas Fair (9th - 11th December) held in the medieval courtyard. From 15th December, Ripley extends its welcome to parties, laying on a decadent three course feast, prepared by Michelin-starred Head Chef Kevin Kindland. Dressing to impress is a must, since the theme requests James Bond-esque styling and ballroom sophistication from each and every guest. Kids needn't miss out on festive cheer, as Santa flies in from Lapland that very same night and will remain in residence at his grotto until 23rd December. www.ripleycastle.co.uk For cottages in Yorkshire.

 

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Christmas in the Shire conjures imagery of quaint villages bedecked with twinkling lights and cosy cottages, lit by a roaring fire. At the home of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, this traditional image of festive cheer is bolstered by the palace's magnificent size and scale, as well as its repute as birthplace of former English Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. December sees the entire East Wing transformed into a blaze of color and activity; a tree-lighting ceremony kicks off proceedings mid-November, followed by Santa Claus' arrival and the opening of the grotto on 1st December. Christmas dinner preparation takes on a whole new meaning within the Orangery, where 'Dinner Rehearsals' are offered, alongside seasonal recipe and cooking tutorials. Be sure to pre-book, so you don't miss out! www.blenheimpalace.com  For somewhere to stay in Oxfordshire.

 

Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire
For three consecutive evenings from the 1st December, the Duke of Devonshire's sprawling Chatsworth House estate becomes a hub for Christmas tours; fine dining and 'mulled wine at twilight' - an increasingly popular pre-Christmas treat for residents of the Peak District. Chatsworth's Christmas Twilight Evenings are offered on a pre-book basis, luring guests with the promise of homemade mulled wine; a personally guided tour of the exquisitely decorated main house and seasonal concerts of both the choral and symphonic variety. Head to the Cavendish Rooms for a magical three-course Christmas Dinner, or down to the Orangery for some truly unique Christmas gifts and treats! www.chatsworth.org Holiday rentals in Derbyshire.

 

Delgatie Castle, Turriff, Aberdeenshire
Sanctuary to Mary Queen of Scots after the Battle of Cirrichie in 1562, Delgatie Castle today provides the backdrop for one of Aberdeenshire's most popular Victorian Fairs. 'Victorian Christmas' began at Delgatie in the 1980's and has since evolved to become a living theatre for Christmas entertainment. Courtiers dressed in their finest period attire mingle with visitors providing a hearty welcome of mince pies and Aberdeenshire whisky tasters, along with the compulsory glass of mulled wine. Throughout December, the Delgatie Tearoom serves dual purpose as a traditional lunching venue and crafters fair, with a nostalgic array of traditional gifts such as cashmere scarfs, sculpted wooden toys and handmade teddy bears. Revel in the traditional beauty of this Scottish gem with a three-course feast that truly compliments the Victorian experience. www.delgatiecastle.com  Cottages in Aberdeenshire.

 

Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire
Formerly the ancestral home to the Earls of Lichfield, Shugborough Estate now commands attention for a number of curious reasons - not least its association with the Holy Grail. Mystery aside, Shugborough welcomes visitors into the bosom of the estate for a truly unique Georgian experience, embellished by a team of dramatists (in authentic period dress) and Candlelit Christmas Evenings ripe with entertainment. From 10th December, the servants' quarters are abuzz with excitement as Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive to kick-start Christmas. An on-site museum charts the magnificent Christmases spent at Shugborough by former Earls, brought to life by kitchen bustle as the servants go about festive preparation. On December 12th, Shugborough extends its festive dramas to include Murder Mystery Dinners, inclusive of three-course Christmas menu and all the trimmings! Booking is essential for this night of decadence and mayhem within the candlelit Dining Hall! www.shugborough.org.uk  Holiday cottages Staffordshire.

 

 

POSTED BY: LISA
AT 10:27

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