Each year a team of busy Christmas elves set to work at Speke Hall to deck the halls with handmade garlands.
My family and I ventured over to the rare Tudor timber-framed manor house on the banks of the River Mersey to sample the Hall’s Victorian Christmas celebrations last weekend.
Speke Hall really is quite special at Victorian Christmas time – it’s like stepping back in time.
In the courtyard, we were greeted by a choir singing and signing Christmas carols before being invited to toast marshmallows which we enjoyed melted in a chocolate digestive sandwich!
As we made our way through the orchard, my six-year-old daughter, Isla, insisted on having her face painted with penguins and icy snowflakes – a real work of art and she was delighted with the results.
Passing the Kitchen Garden, we popped in to see Santa in his grotto before arriving at historical Hall where we were greeted by volunteers in traditional Victorian dress.
The stunning Hall looks sensational at Christmas time, engulfed with the fabulous fragrance of over 80, five foot fresh garlands – all hand tied and decorated by volunteer Rosemary Brice and her amazing team of volunteers.
Rosemary and the Christmas Team spend two weeks preparing and transforming the house into a glorious, quintessential Victorian Christmas.
These volunteers lovingly hand-craft over 80 leylandii garlands each year and 2017 marks a major milestone – 30 years since the tradition first started.
As part of the traditional Victorian weekend, visitors can join a Victorian Guided Tour inside the Hall free from 11am. From 12.30pm – 3.30pm, children can take part in a Festive Favourites Indoor Trail. Isla loved spotting the knitted Christmas toys in each room as we made our way through the house.
We played traditional Victorian family games in the Oak Drawing Room, potted a few balls in The Billiard Room and marvelled at the Christmas tree and decorations in the Great Hall.
Over in the Education Room, Isla enjoyed making her own Victorian sugar mouse with the Hall’s cook.
Afterwards, we had a go at Victorian lawn croquet and enjoyed some festive fayre in Home Farm Restaurant – the chocolate chip scones with spiced cheery jam are highly recommended!
Our afternoon at Speke Hall really was a magical experience and there is more festive fun to be had during the run up to Christmas.
As well as the Victorian Christmas Weekends on December 2, 3, 9 (10.30am – 4pm), the Hall is hosting Tranquil Festive Fridays on December 1 and 8 (10.30am – 4pm) and a Winter Weekend on December 16 and 17 featuring a Tinsel Toddle, a Rudog Dash, a singing walk with the Merseywave Choir, promenade theatre with the Winter Wizard and Christmas stalls in the East Courtyard.
There will also be an Evening of Festive Music on December 1, 7 and 8 and Breakfast with Father Christmas on December 14 and 15 (9am – 10:30am) at Home Farm.
For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/speke-hall