A Stately Christmas
PUBLISHED: 13:40 22 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:20 20 February 2013
A quick tour of the county to celebrate Christmas at some of our fine country houses...
A visit to Haddon Hall this Christmas will transport you back to its medieval origins. From 7th to 21st December, the Hall will be glowing with traditional decorations and the warmth of big open fires. Theres an atmospheric taste of life with the Tudors on 10th and 11th with a demonstration of authentic Christmas preparations. On 14th and 15th festive music will bring the property alive with Christmas by Candlelight events and local choirs and musicians will be singing carols and performing festive music on 17th and 18th. Eager shoppers and those in need of refreshments can stop off at The Gatehouse Gift Shop and the restaurant in the old stable block.
All our favourite Christmas Carols are being brought to life at Chatsworth this year. The halls will be decked doubtless with holly and ivy and wintery street scenes from Bethlehem and huge hanging bells will be part of a magical festive journey around the House. Perhaps even more magical if you go on one of the twilight tours (1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th December). The popular Christmas Wish Tree makes a return appearance beneath the Great Stairs for visitors to leave their own messages. Adults and children can also join in by dressing up in seasonal costumes. For children theres also a chance to star in a traditional Nativity at the Farmyard alongside real animals while adults can get into the mood by booking on a festive themed workshop or enjoying a walk across the park and making somefood and gift purchases at theStableyard.
A quick detour west to the HopeValley finds Eyam Hall Craft Centrecelebrating with lights, seasonal music,carols in the Hall, hand bell ringingand festive foods on 26th, 27thNovember and 3rd, 4th December.Across to Renishaw Hall and from3rd to 18th December, 10.30am-4pm, theres a chance to explore the enchanting grounds in all their winter magnificence when Alexandra Hayward is opening the gardens free to the public for the first time. The Hall, dressed traditionally for the Christmas season with fir trees and roaring fires, will be open for a festive guided tour at 3pm weekdays and 11am, 1pm and 3pm at weekends. Therell be live music on selected days andhome-made soup, mulled wineand mince pies complete thetreat of a visit to this familycountry estate. On 3rd and 4thDecember a mini food anddrink fair allows localproducers to showcase theirwares.
A short trip back down theM1, Hardwick Hall wakesbriefly yet enthusiastically fromits winter hibernation with aprogramme of events over the threeweekends before the holiday that have a1940s make do and mend theme.There will be plenty to amuse thewhole family with carols, childrensactivities, decorating the Dukes Roomand a family garden trail. A gardenmasterclass on winter pruning on the6th and a chance to find out moreabout stone carving on the 9th and10th offer alternatives for Christmasescapees.
Calke Abbey has planned a full programme of Christmassy events. The fun begins on 3rd December (with six more dates up to the 18th) with Whispers of Calkes Christmas Past, and theres a chance to step back to the 1940s with a Christmas Tea Dance in the Riding School at 2pm. The weekend of 10th/11th sees a Christmas Craft and Gift Show in the Riding School at 11am, with some tempting offers on local goods. If youre in the party mood on 17th, at 2pm theres the Christmas do, with a display by the Ogando Dance School, or tempt your tastebuds at the Christmas Fine Foods Fair, held in the Riding School from 11am on 18th.
Reindeer, fine food and a look back to Edwardian times are the order of the day at Kedleston Hall. Festivities start with the Craft and Food Fair on 26th and 27th November (11am-5pm; 1 admission); with more than 50 stalls selling local crafts and ingredients for the perfect festive feast. Then on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th December, the ground floor of the Hall will be decorated for a traditional Edwardian Christmas, with lots of greenery, nuts, ribbons and pomanders bringing the hall alive with traditional sights and scents. In Caesars Hall you can meet costumed characters, view a table laid for a Christmas feast and enjoy the enormous Christmas tree bedecked with candles, cones, cardboard birds, crepe streamers and glass baubles. The 13th century All Saints Church will also be adorned with foliage. Younger visitors can enjoy story telling, craft activities and meet Santa and two of his reindeers (always happy to pose for a photo!) or even join them for a special Christmas breakfast (3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th Dec). There are festive workshops (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th Dec), which include four with master chocolatier Barry Colenso, Lecture Lunches (2nd, 9th, 16th Dec ) and performances by the Sitwell Singers and Derby Bach Choir (17th Dec) or Kedleston Hall Fireside Carols with the Cantabile and South Derbyshire Brass Ensemble (18th Dec). Those of us in need of post-festivity fresh air will enjoy the planned walks on Boxing Day and New Years Day.
Sudbury Hall will be lavishly decorated as usual and the Museum of Childhood is sure to delight children at this time of year with its playthings from the recent and not-so-recent past. Father Christmas will be in his grotto ready to hand out toys from the 21st century and a Christmas Craft Fair on 3rd and 4th December from 11am- 4pm should provide the necessary inspiration for gift and food buyers. A final dash up to the far north west of the Peak District and Lyme Park has Father Christmas in his grotto on 4th, 11th and 18th December. Lymes current exhibition, Winter with Beatrix Potter includes 16 original watercolours with a Christmas or winter theme and the manuscript of The Tailor of Gloucester that perennial favourite with a Christmassy flavour. There are also lots of Beatrix Potter themed activities for younger visitors. Hardy souls might prefer The Cage Walk, a stroll of around a mile and a half of wonderful winter views on 15th December.