A grand Cheshire Christmas at Capesthorne Hall
Christmas time at Capesthorne Hall has always been special for Lady Bromley-Davenport. She leads a team of helpers who enhance her elegant country home for the festive season
Capesthorne Hall is a building that needs no introduction. The turreted, red-brick Jacobean style home in Siddington is surrounded by more the 100 acres of Cheshire parkland. It is full of fine art, marble sculptures and Regency antiques. It is a place that has captured the imagination of not only Sir William and Lady Bromley-Davenport, the couple who are proud to call it home, but also that of droves of visitors who cross its threshold every year.
But it is at Christmas that this wonderful country house really comes into its own. For the past seven years the grand rooms of Capesthorne have been adorned with beautiful festive decorations for the public to view.
While you might think specialist interior designers would be brought in for such a huge undertaking, it is the hard work of Lady Bromley-Davenport, the dedicated team at Capesthorne Hall and her children and grandchildren, which brings about the transformation.
Lady Bromley-Davenport, who took a major role in the interior decoration of the hall when her husband, Sir William succeeded to Capesthorne, said: ‘There is not a person here who does not have something to do with the decoration. That is the best thing about it, we’re a fantastic team. There are also volunteers who help because they enjoy it so much. It is wonderful because people also realise just how creative they can be.
‘My oldest friend from America usually comes over. She does decoupage and is very talented and she loves doing this with me. It is a very special time for us all to get together to turn the hall into a special place to be at Christmas. Everyone is very proud of the house and garden.’
While a team of people are busy making decorations for the interior, the estate gardeners produce stunning wreaths to welcome visitors when they reach the front door. The huge 18ft Christmas tree, a striking addition, is also sourced from nearby Macclesfield Forest. The same gentleman has been tasked with this important job for more than 50 years.
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Several treasured family heirlooms and gifts are pulled out of storage. The Santa Claus collection, given pride of place in the entrance hall, is a diverse range of different statues and models of St Nicholas. Many were given to Lady Bromley Davenport by family members including her mum, Mayor Hitchcock, her husband, Sir William, their daughter, Liberty and her aunt, Lib Schley.
There is also a gingerbread house that is covered in sweets every year – something Lady Bromley-Davenport can remember doing at Capesthorne as a child.The downstairs areas are always decorated in a similar fashion with colourful masks placed on several busts of previous Capesthorne residents in the Sculpture Hall. There is also the treasured Santa Claus collection and special ornaments and trinkets collected from different countries.
But the upstairs rooms take on a different theme every year. From November 23rd – 25th, one room will be turned into a carnival, bursting with life and colour; another, once occupied by Dorothy Davenport, will be laid with a traditional dinner table setting and there will be a fun d�cor in the children’s room.
One room will mark this year’s Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, London 2012 and Sir William and Lady Bromley-Davenport’s golden wedding anniversary, which takes place this month.Music also plays an important part in the festive celebrations and two rooms will be turned into concert halls. This year schoolchildren from Smallwood Primary, Marton and District C of E Aided Primary, Pownall Hall School, The Grange School and The Ryleys School, will sing songs. Harpist Jessica Sutton, handbell ringers and members of South Cheshire Young Musicians will also add to the Christmas frivolities and Bostock Singers will entertain the crowds as they arrive in the courtyard.
Lady Bromley-Davenport said: ‘The house is always full of music. There is always an incredible atmosphere. It is quite magical. For the first time we will have music in the courtyard too. Before we open the house people can take lots of time exploring, visit our craft fair, have some mulled wine and mince pies and enjoy all of the traditional things.
‘Then you come in and the first thing you see is the tree and the Santa Claus collection. It feels magical, it is special and I love standing and watching people as they walk in. It is just fantastic.’
Decorating and seeing the hall in its festive finery brings back many happy Christmas memories for Lady Bromley-Davenport. She first visited the hall as a young girl.She remembered: ‘I have been here for Christmases as early as the 50s – there used to always be lots of people staying here. I can remember exactly what it was like and the hall still reminds me of it now.
‘Carol singers used to come the night before Christmas. We used to have Christmas lunch together too and it would be such a special occasion.
‘That is what I love about Capesthorne at Christmas. This is not just a building, this is a home filled with happy memories and it is decorated with that in mind. It is wonderful watching what everyone achieves here at Christmas.’