A very ‘Victorian Christmas’ was planned as our seasonal theme for our open weekends on the run up to the end of the year. As the house was all tree’d up and ready to go, there just remained the running plan. We had a variety of choirs and musicians lined up to make use of the fabulous acoustics in the Great Hall. The first of the festive weekends had Margaret Jones on duty and judging by the note she had left in the office it had gone really well but was ‘a little hectic’.
So forewarned is forearmed. During the week between the open weekends we had the chance of fine tuning the house and route so we could better accommodate visitors and hopefully lessen the impact on our beloved house. We also had a visit from members of the V&A which was the first time we had to have the whole house open since we had closed. The winter cleaning schedule progresses, and we had covered all the furniture and moved all the ceramics into storage that are not in the rooms that are open.
So the day finally arrived and with our room guide volunteers dressed in period costume, including a butler for the door, we were ready(ish) for the public. It was a good indication of things to come as we looked out the window 5mins before we were due to open to see a que of visitors going from the front door all down the West Terrace to the steps, waiting to come in. It was a fairly calm, steady influx and all seemed to be in festive spirits. Having entered the house through the West door, the route then goes straight into the Great Hall, through the Dining room, Drawing room and out of the house to the Church via the normally closed off Church passage. At the end of the day a comfortable 744 had visited. Sunday was a slightly different story.