Dyrham Park is offering a break from the hustle and bustle of the modern Christmas experience this year with a chance to take some time out and encounter some 17th-century winter traditions.
December at the National Trust property near Bath will provide a step away from the tinsel, baubles and trees of today and the opportunity to learn about some historic festive customs while taking a moment to stretch your legs, take stock and reconnect with nature.
There will be church choirs, a children’s trail through the parkland, a poetry trail and subtle, scented decorations crafted from plants and dried flowers from around the park and garden.
Senior Visitor Experience Officer Emma Aldred explained: “We know that Christmas and the run-up to it can be a manic time and at Dyrham this year we’re offering visitors the chance to do something a bit different.
“You can forget tinsel, baubles and Father Christmas but we can offer some space to breathe and reflect as well as a selection of trails, interesting crafts, some choirs and a bit of shopping of course.”
Though some of the house is currently closed due to conservation work, a range of rooms will stay open decorated with carefully crafted festive foliage with the scent of orange and spices, cinnamon, pine cones and lavender.
Dried flowers including hydrangea and statice will bring natural colour to the decorations.
Local choirs will sing festive carols in St Peter’s Church which adjoins the property on selected weekends in December.
In the garden and parkland, you can wander at your own pace through the wintry trees or join a guided tour of the park and garden, taking place on most days subject to volunteers.
There will be a children’s trail running through the parkland from Saturday 30th November to Sunday 5th January which will focus on finding natural beauty in the winter season.
In the run-up to Christmas you can make a wish and tie a ribbon on a tree branch in the garden’s nut walk.
Two trails aimed at adults have also been created. The poetry trail leads through the quiet terraces area offering an opportunity to reflect on 17th-century seasonal verse in a peaceful setting.
The winter mindfulness trail takes you around the park and garden suggesting places and areas to stop, think and really focus on you, your feelings and your connections with nature at that moment.
Volunteers dressed as 17th-century servants will be around the site on selected dates in December and early January to talk to visitors about the work they had to do to get ready for Christmas in the late 1600s.
Each weekend in November, there will be natural craft-making focussing on fire, light and candles, the main source of light in a 17th-century home.
You’ll be able to make natural firelighters, create wild candle holders and make beeswax candles using beeswax sheets and wicks.
These activities will take place from 11am to 2pm and there will be a small charge.
For children, each weekend in December starting Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th there will be Christmas crafts based on nature and traditional 17th-century decorations.
You could try your hand at creating a scented pomander bags, some dried orange decorations or a bird feeder.
The festive season will culminate in a noisy celebration of wassailing on Sunday 5th January, 11am-2pm, when visitors are invited to accompany the live music by bashing pots and pans in a traditional celebration to encourage the pear harvest.
Dyrham Park is open daily from 10am-4pm (last entry at 3pm). The whole site is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
It is situated just off junction 18 of the M4 – 8 miles north of Bath and 12 miles east of Bristol. The park is open daily from 10am-4pm (last entry one hour before close).