What did the Victorians do for us? They turned Christmas on its head!
Thanks to them we have Christmas cards, a public holiday on Christmas Day, Christmas crackers – and of course the Christmas Tree.
Speke Hall will be celebrating Christmas in Victorian style this festive season, with three Victorian Christmas Weekends (26 - 27 November, 3 – 4, 10 – 11 December).
Alison Hamilton, Speke’s events’ assistant, explains: “Throughout our Victorian weekends, we’ll have the ground floor of the hall filled with stunning decorations made from foliage and greenery from the Speke estate – which is how the Victorians decorated their homes at this time of year. We’ll also have a lovely, traditionally decorated Christmas tree.
"There are Christmas craft activities for children on each weekend, including making pine cone Christmas trees, Christmas crackers, cornucopia baskets (traditionally made to hang on your tree filled with sweets), paper chains and lanterns and sugar mice.
"They can also write a letter to Father Christmas and post it in our special North Pole Post Box!
Choirs and music on traditional instruments will play period and seasonal music during the afternoons, and on 3 and 4 December you can see garland making in the dairy.
"The hall will open for costumed guided tours from 11.15am."
Meanwhile Father Christmas will be waiting for visitors in his snowy grotto. Dressed in his red suit he’s a familiar figure at this time of year. However, it wasn’t always so, as Alison takes up the story: "From around 1600 until the early Victorian period, Father Christmas was dressed in green, not red," sais Alison.
"This ‘earlier’ Father Christmas carried a holly wreath and a sack with gifts of food and firewood to people at Yuletide. It wasn’t until Father Christmas went across the pond to America that he acquired the red suit we know today. "Look out for our volunteer dressed as the ‘original’ Father Christmas on 3 December at the Festive Music evening, on 4 December around the grounds of Speke Hall and the evening music event, and possibly at the Festive Music evening on 10 December."
The House, shop, gardens and grounds are open 11am – 4pm, with craft activities and Father Christmas Grotto open 1pm – 4pm.
Normal admission rates apply. Christmas crafts £1 per craft, and visit to Father Christmas is £3 per child, to include a free gift. Parking is free and Victorian costumed tours are included in the admission price.
Try the National Trust shop for great Christmas gift ideas and Home Farm Restaurant for a delicious festive snack!
Music at Christmas is always key to creating a festive atmosphere, and Speke Hall will be holding three Evenings of Festive Music with performances in the wonderful setting of the Great Hall by the Salvation Army Band and St Bartholemew’s Choir (3 Dec at 6.30pm and 8pm respectively), Mersey Harmony Singers (4 Dec) and the Oriel Singers (10 Dec).
Tickets are £10 adult/£5 child – booking essential on 0151 427 7231. The admission price includes free parking, access to the ground floor of the Hall prior to the performance and festive refreshments after the event. Performances take place at 6.30pm and 8pm on each of the three evenings.
Please ensure you clarify which time you would like to attend when booking.
For more details of events, go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events