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  • Carol Duval

Christmas Cheer

Updated: May 22, 2019

To get us right into the winter holiday spirit, we spent an unexpectedly joyful day at the Weald and Downland Living Museum which combined Christmas stalls of local produce and crafts, all set among the heritage buildings on site.

We did indulge in the applejack which was just as potent as the maker described it, but managed to avoid the temptations of the sausage rolls and pies. The hats too, as delightfully whimsical as they were, escaped our shopping bag.

Dogs enjoyed the day too though the oxen, donkeys and horses weren’t particularly impressed.

Festive music, food and drink completed the very happy scene.

A few days after Christmas we returned and were treated to warm medieval apple cider and a Mummers' dance.

December will be a month of Christmas activities with so many National Trust properties within striking distance, all with different Christmas themes and displays. First up, Petworth House’s Georgian Christmas with simple handmade decorations.

We had double the enjoyment with Avis and Peter to celebrate Rick's 70th birthday. A perfect place for a landmark day.

Uppark House and Gardens with decorations based on the Twelve Days of Christmas song.

The silks, satins, leathers and nets were impeccably created in paper—such creativity!

Even the servants' tunnels were decorated with paper chains. That brought back memories of my early childhood - post war frugality but loads of fun. The housekeeper's parlour was simple but festive. We hadn't realised H G Wells' mother was housekeeper here and so he would have spent the odd Christmas here no doubt.

Hinton Ampner had a Christmas murder mystery theme. There were clues to look out for, upturned furniture, mysterious objects strategically positioned. The vacuum cleaner - and the drinks trolley - looked like something I remember from '40s and '50s movies.

The jewel colours of the chapel stained glass windows have been magnificently picked up in the decorations throughout the house and gardens. The volunteers in all these homes really have done a wonderful job.

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