Doddington Hall is a large mansion or ‘prodigy house’ built between 1593 and 1600 by Robert Smythson, one of England’s most renowned Elizabethan architects. It is situated in the village of Doddington in Lincolnshire, just outside the historic city of Lincoln. The hall is complete with a gate house and lovely gardens, including a walled garden, and has remained in the same family for 400 years. The Hall itself is surrounded by the extensive Doddington Estate, part of which is devoted to the sustainable growing of several species of Christmas trees which are sold on the site every year.
This year, Doddington Hall is once more open to the public for the festive season, decorated with another Christmassy theme. It is open from November 25 – December 22 and, for the first time, it will also be open on December 28 and 29. Last year the theme was A Fairytale Christmas (which I wrote about here) and the 2017 theme is Christmas in Wonderland – meaning the Wonderland from the Lewis Carroll story of Alice in Wonderland.
On our approach to the hall was an unusual sleigh pulled by unicorns.
This is not as strange as it may seem, considering that unicorns are on the family crest, and there are topiary unicorns to welcome visitors at the front entrance. On the front door was a Christmas wreath, in keeping with this year’s theme, in which TIME plays a dominant part, thanks to the White Rabbit’s obsession with it.
Once through the door, we were straight into the Great Hall, which this year is devoted to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
The long table in the middle was set out with colourful foods, and sleeping in a teapot we found the Dormouse. Side tables displayed a variety of decorative objects associated with the tea party, some of them created from newspaper:
The next room we entered on the ground floor was decorated with all things pertaining to the White Rabbit. Watches and clocks seemed to dominate the room, not to mention the wonderful papier maché version of the White Rabbit himself:
From there we headed out to the ground floor hall, where a table invited us to eat and drink…
Naturally, we declined the kind offers of refreshment and headed for the stairs, all aptly decked out with roses and playing cards, all the way up to the top floor:
The first room we entered on the first floor was the Queen of Hearts’ bedroom, complete with the necessary jam tarts:
Also on this floor was what we called the Roses Room. Painting the Roses Red is a song featured in the 1951 Disney film of Alice in Wonderland.
We carried on up the stairs to the top (second) floor, where we found a dodo waiting for us. The photo is a bit ‘glary’ but it’s the only one we took.
One room on this floor was dedicated to the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, known for repeating the question Whooo Are Youuu?
Lastly, we had a look in the Long Gallery which is also on the top floor. Last year this room was dedicated to the Ice Queen. The snowy woodland scene was similar this year, minus the purple lights, but instead of the Ice Queen’s throne was a display of flamingos. Small flamingos also hung on the trees in place of Christmas baubles. (Flamingos are the birds used by the Queen of Hearts in a croquet game).
One room wasn’t open when we were there as some of the ‘elf helpers’ hadn’t arrived. Perhaps some of the characters from the story that we couldn’t find were in there – including the Cheshire Cat. But as we were going on to see the pantomime, Aladdin, later on, we hadn’t time to wait and see.