Christmas Countdown

Here at Polesden Lacey there is always great excitement heading into the Christmas season as the house team transform the mansion with countless Christmas trees, fabulous floral displays, and room settings fit for royalty. Throughout November we as a house team are very busy with conservation deep cleans and storeroom work alongside all the Christmas preparations. Once each room layout has been decided for Christmas opening furniture needs moving, ceramics need packing and carpets need rolling to make room for the countless Christmas trees, wrapped presents and other items from the collection. This week sees us heading into the home straight before we open on 4th December and I’ll be giving you a sneak peek behind the scenes through this post.

13th November:

Having researched and purchased appropriate looking 1930’s style Christmas decorations these were laid out in each room according to the agreed colour schemes and styles.

Although traditionally 1930’s Christmas trees  would not have been decorated in colour schemes it was decided that due to the atmosphere in each room and the planned floral arrangements we would be more controlled!

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Inspirational images of Christmas trees from previous years at Polesden Lacey, 1930’s photographs and documentation. These gave us the starting point to look at each room individually and then decide on schemes.

17th November:

Music plays a big part in the atmosphere of the house and Katarina and Helen have been sifting through gramophone records looking for music from the 1930’s that would suit the party atmosphere we are trying to create. Alongside the Gramophone records our team of talented volunteer pianists will be tickling the ivories in the Gold Room where the entertainment would have taken place in Mrs Greville’s day.

Games that would have been available in the 1930’s will be out to be played with in the Billiard Room, but of course before Tiddley Winks got there it needed testing!

24th November:

The Giant Christmas Tree Arrives.

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With help from the Garden and Estate team the tree was raised to its full 16ft height and secured to the columns of the Central Hall.

26th November:

Silhouettes were going up on the windows of the house, giving the people outside a peak of what might be going on in each room during the party inside. Christmas Pudding anybody? or perhaps present giving in the Tea Room?

Back inside and we know that Mrs Greville had a circular table in the Dining Room during the 1930’s, however we no longer have that table and this has perhaps been one of the biggest challenges this year. The round table was installed into the room on 25th November and as you can see from the photo below was being laid with 12 places.

Dining Room

This Christmas more servants areas are being opened then ever before, and of course the servants would have decorated these areas of the house too. Helen has been researching the decorations that would have adorned the ‘behind the scenes’ areas, clearly these would have been much more homemade and less expensive then the glass baubles and exquisite flowers of the main rooms but important none the less.

Around Christmas time smells seem to play a big part in the atmosphere of a space, from spices to home baked goodies. Scents would have been prominent in the servants areas in particular with cooking and cleaning going on continuously. To bring the full experience of a 1930’s house party to life Caroline has been experimenting the scents in areas in the north of the house, see what you can sniff out when you come and visit.

27th November

The smaller trees and poinsettias arrived, cue a fever of activity to get each tree up in its relevant room and then to the decorating!

With one week to go we still have a lot of work to do to get the house spick and span for our visitors; and of course we cannot do it alone! The floral displays are produced by our talented volunteer flower arrangers, conservation volunteers have been helping us to deep clean areas of the showrooms before setting up for Christmas, and our research volunteers have been digging through the archives, to name just a few groups.

For more information about Christmas at Polesden Lacey you can visit our website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/polesden-lacey/lists/the-best-of-christmas-2015-at-polesden-lacey

The House will be open along with the rest of the estate from 4th – 23rd December. We look forward to welcoming you to our Christmas party!

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