Deck the halls

Boy playing the piano at Christmas

Boy playing the piano at Christmas - Credit: Archant

Christmas at the National Trust in Kent is always a festival of traditional decorations, delicious food and fun, family event

This Christmas festive treats are happening across Kent, with highlights including Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s Westerham home, opening the main house over the festive period for the first time. There will also be a series of Christmas workshops and events taking place at Knole in Sevenoaks.

A 1930’s Chartwell Christmas

The inaugural opening of the main house this Christmas allows the team at Chartwell to show visitors how some of the rooms would have been decorated for a Churchill family 1930’s Christmas (see also page 20).

Painstaking research was carried out by the Chartwell house team earlier in the year, led by intern Kay Bisbrown and assistant house steward Sophie West.

They looked particularly into the kind of decorations and food that would have been part of a 1930’s Christmas and examined Churchill family memoires to further authenticate the modern-day recreations.

Visitors will be able to view the sitting room, dressed in brightly coloured tinsel and baubles, where the family opened their presents before heading off to church on Christmas morning. An equally colourful 1930’s-themed Christmas tree will adorn the hall, while the dining room and kitchen will display elements of a yuletide feast.

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A winter exhibition will also be running, focusing on the state funeral of Sir Winston ahead of next year, which marks 50 years since his passing in 1965 (of which much more in January 2015 Kent Life).

The house will be open on a free-flow basis between 11am and 3pm over the weekends of 6 and 7 December (when Father Christmas will be dropping by) and also 13 and 14 December.

During the last weekend before Christmas visitors can also enjoy family craft sessions, guided tours, talks and festive choral performances.

The rest of the estate, including the gardens, restaurant and studio, opens daily (except 24 and 25 December) from 11am until 4pm for winter strolls and pre-bookable Christmas lunches.

Further details can be found at: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell.

Great fun in Knole’s Great Hall

Christmas at Knole is synonymous with bright colours, family crafts and traditional festive entertainment. This year sees the return of several annual favourites, including Christmas workshops in the Great Hall, where participants can learn how to make swags on 5 December; all materials are included (please bring your own secateurs). The day costs £55 and must be booked in advance on 01732 462100.

Crafting opportunities are also available for all the family at Knole, with storytelling and craft sessions taking place on 20 and 21 December. Snuggle up with a warming hot chocolate as you listen to a Knole Christmas tale told by professionals, before making a beautiful memento to take home.

A family ticket to this event costs £35 (two adults and two children over five) and must be booked in advance: 01732 462100.

Two special events are also included in Knole’s festive programme, with Lord Sackville giving his popular Christmas lecture in the Great Hall on 2 December, accompanied by canapés and Champagne.

The Great Hall will ring to the sound of Christmas carols on 7 and 14 December as the Knole Singers provide beautiful music in a series of pre-Christmas concerts. For tickets to both events, call 0844 249 1895.

Knole’s Christmas extravaganza comes ahead of extensive conservation work planned for the Great Hall next year. Visitors will be able to see the specialist work carry on throughout 2015 and ask questions as it progresses. n