A Country House Christmas, made at Lyme

After a three-week sleep, Lyme’s grand mansion will re-open to the public on Friday 22 November – decorated for a traditional Christmas.

This year, the team at Lyme have been delving into the estate’s past to uncover stories of Christmases gone by celebrated through the centuries by the Legh family, their servants and tenants. Their searches have taken them from the Tudor era through to the final golden years of the house in the early twentieth century with quoted excerpts from the memoirs of Phyllis Legh Sandeman, former resident at the hall helping to paint a picture of how Christmas was celebrated at Lyme.

As visitors pass through the different rooms, they will see Lyme in many guises – from a 17th century Christmas wedding celebration, to an Edwardian ballroom, to a pantry piled with food for the holiday celebration.

In the dining hall, guests will discover a range of Christmas dishes through the ages, from delicate sweet treats to an imposing boars head centrepiece.

Regency Christmas at Lyme Park, Cheshire

Red ribbons, garlands and fabric are used to reflect the dark wood panelling and red carpeting around much of the house’s interiors. Many of the decorations are handmade by Lyme’s staff and volunteers, in much the same way that they would have been crafted by the family and servants in previous centuries. This year, reflecting Lyme’s 2019 theme of ‘Books and Stories’, decorations have been made using old books, and recycled Christmas cards.

Outside of the house, the Timber Yard will feature a collection of community trees, decorated by local primary schools and organisations across Disley and the surrounding area.

Deborah Maxwell, Lyme’s General Manager, said, “At Lyme, Christmas has always been a time for traditions. Many of our visitors come here every year for family gatherings, walks and to enjoy Lyme in winter. We’ll be looking forward to welcoming Father Christmas, who’ll be meeting families and children throughout December, and of course our popular afternoon teas will be taking on a festive twist.”

An Afternoon Audience with Father Christmas’ runs 10-12 and 17-19 December

Due to popularity this year, extra dates have been added for Lyme’s Father Christmas events. ‘An Afternoon Audience with Father Christmas’, which runs 10-12 and 17-19 December, will also feature a craft activity where children can create an edible gift for family or friends. Accompanying adults will also be able to treat themselves to a hot drink and a festive cake and mince pie.

Visitors admiring the festive Christmas decorations at Knole, Kent

Festive afternoon teas will include a selection of sweet treats and sandwiches made from local produce, and are available to book by calling 01663 761400.

Lyme’s Christmas Stories opens 22 November and is open Friday to Monday until 24 December. Standard admission charges apply, National Trust Members are free. For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lyme or call 01663 762023.

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