Doddington Hall is a family home located in the village of Doddington about five miles from the city of Lincoln, UK. It was built in the 16th century and is similar in design to other Elizabethan halls built at that time. I don’t intend to write about the history of the Hall at this stage, but here are a few more photos of the East Front as we approached after getting our tickets at the Gate House. The unicorn sculptures and topiaries are significant in that the unicorn is the family crest.
The Hall has a large estate on which Christmas trees are grown and a careful programme of replanting is carried out. We’ve bought our Christmas trees here for some years now but this is only the second time we’ve actually been inside the Hall itself – and I’m really glad we did.
Between November 29 and December 23 this year, Doddington Hall is open to the public at weekends (10-4 pm) and on Wednesadays ( 3-7 pm). It has been beautifully and imaginatively decorated to present a Fairytale Christmas, many of the main rooms having specific themes with scenes and characters from well-loved fairy stories. The team responsible for creating the wonderful displays include Claire Birch – who runs the estate with her husband James – several members of staff, florist Rachel Petheran, the resident cutting gardener, and lighting and production designer Howell Thomas with students from Lincoln College.
On entering through the East Front doorway we found ourselves in the Great Hall. This room’s long dining table is decorated and set for a festive meal for some interesting people or possibly elves/gnomes/dwarfs.
From the Great Hall we headed across to the Brown Parlour, decorated as The Sweet World of Hansel and Gretel. One of the central items on display is a gingerbread cottage, and there are candy sticks and other ‘sweet’ items hanging from the ceiling and in jars and containers around the room. This room also had a Christmas tree and a nice old rocking horse.
On leaving the Brown Room we entered the hallway in order to head up to the first floor. The elegant staircase has not escaped themed decoration, either. A beautifully made green beanstalk (as in the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk) follows the stairs right up to the top/second floor where ‘the goose that lays the golden eggs’ sits on a fluffy white cloud. But it seems the giant has detected intruders and his lowering boot shows he’s coming to investigate . . .
On the first floor landing we were greeted by a friendly looking dragon made of willow . . .
. . . before we entered the first one of two bedrooms to view on this floor. This one depicted The Princess and the Pea story. An antique four-poster bed is cleverly piled high with mattresses with the princess lying on the top. Her dress sits on a nearby chair, next to a table on which was another Christmas tree.
Unfortunetely, in the other bedroom on this floor we couldn’t get any photos at all as it is really dark in there and no flash photography is permitted. The whole room has been cleverly transformed into a scene from Sleeping Beauty. The princess lies sleeping in a four-poster bed for a hundred years whilst around her the thorns and brambles of the forest continue to flourish.
After being greeted by the goose and descending giant on the top/second floor, we headed into a bedroom decked out as Aladdin’s Cave. This impressive display was also difficult to catch on camera because of the glaringly coloured lights, which could have been partially countered by using flash. The lights constantly changed colours in ‘the cave’ so we have three different coloured genies and treasures. It was also difficult at first to pick out Aladdin’s lamp.
Also on the top floor is the 96-foot-long Long Gallery, the room in which people of bygone times would have walked up and down for their exercise when the weather was ‘inclement’ (unpleasantly cold or wet). This was a particularly beautifully decorated room: a snowy woodland fairyland and realm of the (absent) Snow Queen. At the far end of the gallery, a throne awaits any lady willing to be photographed wearing the queen’s crown and fur coat. Our photos of this room aren’t too wonderful either, unfortunately, as it is fairly dark, especially at the end away from the windows.
Finally, on our way down, we found this very pretty little elf on the first floor who kindly agreed to let us take her photo. Thank you, Elf, for posing so beautifully for us. 😀
I’m already wondering which theme will be chosen for next year’s Christmas decorations at Doddington Hall.