A Celebration of Christmas Trees at Doddington Hall

Doddington Hall is situated in the Lincolnshire village of Doddington, about seven miles from the city of Lincoln. It was built between 1593 and 1600 by Robert Smythson, one of England’s most renowned architects.  The Hall has a large estate on which Christmas trees are grown and a careful programme of planting/replanting is carried out. We have bought our tree from here for many years now.


For the past six or seven years Doddington Hall has opened its doors for the Christmas season, this year from November 25 to December 23. The rooms are decorated to a particular festive theme each year, this year ‘s being simply, Christmas at Doddington. Last year the theme was Christmas in Wonderland, which can be seen here  and the previous year’s was A Fairytale Christmas, here. Both were a delight to see.
Christmas trees were first planted at Doddington 60 years ago and this year’s theme in is celebration of that, with decorations inspired by the carol O Christmas Tree. A great selection of Christmas trees adorn the rooms and hallways, all different in size and shape, and each decorated differently by using an incredible array of objects and materials. Some of the ‘trees’ are actual trees, others are created from either natural vegetation or seasonal/festive items such as drinking glasses and wine bottles. It’s all very colourful and in keeping with the Georgian ‘feel’ of the hall – the period in which Doddington was refurbished in the style it still looks today. And once through the front door, passing a tiny ‘tree’ decorated with good old Brussels Sprouts!. . .

. . . we’re straight into the large dining room.Here are some photos of how it looks this year. Most of the small ‘trees’ are along the dining table, others sat on smaller tables or window ledges:

By the entrance to the hall from the dining room is a little room in which we found another ‘tree’ made of bottles, these containing varying amounts of liquids – presumably of the original wine, spirit or liqueur:

Also on the ground floor was the parlour, an interesting room, in keeping with Victorian  entertainments and parlour games, as played following the popularising of the Christmas tree by Prince Albert in 1840.

Waiting in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs was a very smiley and welcoming ‘Head Elf’. . .

. . . who we had a little chat with before heading up the impressive staircase. . .

. . . to reach the first and second floors – with Christmas trees hanging on the landings between:

On the first floor landing itself was… yes!… another tree! A real spruce this time:

 On this floor there were three rooms open to the public, although we took no photos in one because it was too dark, and we assumed flash photography wasn’t allowed. One room was a small child’s bedroom, in which was a Scots Pine Christmas tree:

The other room on this floor served is the drawing room (or, withdrawing room) – to which genteel ladies would retreat after dinner, leaving the men to talk politics – or whatever! This room was very unusual, in that a number of ladies’ dresses had been created out of… yes, again!… Christmas trees (real ones), along with other bird-inspired decorations:

Eventually we got to the second/top floor, passing on the landing en-route a Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling to display its roots!

There are two rooms on view at the ‘ top’. One was decorated to show the inside of an Egyptian tent – a real one, too. The tree was lovely, displaying colourful roses, made of  thin card, as far as we could tell. We wondered whether the ‘roses’ were to represent  ‘sand roses’ found in desert environments:

This is a little bit about the actual tent (not the roses) from a much longer piece in the room:

The tent was made around 1880 in Cairo, where similar tents are still used today for weddings, festivals and fairs. It was given to Doddington by Viscount Harry Crookshank, who was MP for (nearby) Gainsborough for over 31 years, until 1961. He was born in Cairo, where his father was Surgeon General and the tent was part of his father’s ‘Eastern Curiosities’.

Lastly is the largest upstairs room, This year it displayed models of a village and nearby railway on a Christmas Eve.

Doddington  Hall at Christmas is a delight for people of all ages to soak up the historic, Christmassy atmosphere. At £11 per adult and £5.50 per child (under 3 years free and  family entry £29) it isn’t particularly cheap. But for the time and energy that the staff put into these displays, it’s well worth a visit. Bookings can also be made for children to visit Father Christmas in his grotto on certain days.

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Christmas in Wonderland at Doddington Hall

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.

Alice Falling Down the Rabbit Hole. Image from Shutterstock

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 Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Image courtesy of Pixabay

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?

Alice in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham: Advice From a Caterpillar. Public Domain

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.

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A Fairytale Christmas at Doddington Hall

doddington-hall-from-the-gatehouse

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 . . .

greeted-by-a-dragon-at-the-top-of-the-stairs-first-floor

. . . 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. 😀

a-very-pretty-elf-we-found-at-th-top-of-the-stairs-first-floor

I’m already wondering which theme will be chosen for next year’s Christmas decorations at Doddington Hall.