Travel back in time with the spirits of Past Christmases to experience the festivities of the Edwardian and Victorian eras. Here are the top five Christmas houses to visit around London this holiday season in no given order.
This historic estate was gifted by Queen Anne to Sir John Churchill for defeating the French armies in 1704. Through its over 300 years of history, it has been the home of the Churchill family, and most notably, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The Palace, the Park and the wider Estate are all part of the World Heritage List.
This year the Palace’s Christmas decoration was inspired by a Danish fairy tale, ‘The Snow Queen’, re-imagined for 2022. Following the adventures of the two children, the rooms have been transformed and filled with hidden surprises, including the Land of Snowflakes and the Kingdom of Ice.
In The Great Outdoors area, visitors can admire the after-dark illuminated trail, and enjoy the Christmas Market with many crafts and artisan products, along with independent street food stands. For ticket holders, The Christmas Afternoon Tea in the Palace’s Orangery is also available to book.
Festive events: 18th November 2022 – 2nd January 2023
The Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885 to display his art collection. The building and the surrounding area are managed by the Rothschild Foundation, providing a home for collections of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts.
For the Christmas season, a new route through the East Wing has been decorated with sparkling trees and extravagant displays, inspired by the Manor’s many treasures.
The light installations in the surrounding garden are part of the Winter Light magic, accompanying the front of the house festive fair, and the 20ft Christmas tree. For an extra special holiday experience, visitors can also book a room in the historic Five Arrows hotel, located at the gates of Waddesdon Manor.
Festive events: 12th November 2022 – 2nd January 2023
The Edwardian country house was the home of socialite Margaret Greville, and her impressive collection of paintings, ceramics and French furniture. Its history however goes all the way back to 1336 when the first house was built on the land.
Polesden Lacey welcomes its visitors with a 17ft tall Christmas tree as they step into the central hall. The ‘12 Days of Christmas’ themed decorations are the highlight of the house, including the hidden inner courtyard, decorated with falling snow and a golden partridge in a pear tree, as well as an outdoor installation of Seven Swans Swimming. Music performances are also taking place on selected Fridays and Saturdays.
Festive events: 3th December 2022 – 2nd January 2023
The Manor was first recorded in 1086 on the lands of Queen Edith and later served as the country house of Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th century.
Just like in Polesden Lacey, this Victorian mansion also recreates the scenes of ‘12 Days of Christmas’, including the Seven Swans Swimming and five giant gold rings. Visitors are invited to join live story-telling performances and crafts in the cosy second-hand bookshop while trying the spot 12 hidden gifts.
Throughout December musical performances will be held every weekend, including Christmas carols and festive dancing. Another highlight is the twilight Christmas tours, leading around the house and grounds by candlelight to discover the ‘12 Days of Christmas’.
Visitors are encouraged to start the tour with mulled wine and mince pie to keep warm during the frosty night.
Festive events: 21st November 2022 – 2nd January 2023
This charming house also shares its history with Churchill, who bought the estate in 1922. Its origins reach back to 1382 and have seen many owners through the centuries. Churchill and Lady Clementine Churchill made many happy Christmas memories at Chartwell.
Visitors can learn about the Christmas traditions the Churchill family shared, discovering their connection with Hallmark cards and how they reorganised the dining room after dinner. This year the drawing room will be decorated for the first time, with interiors inspired by Clementine’s characteristic festive taste. The list of presents Winston received in 1946 and the gift he was given by President Roosevelt will also be displayed.
The Chartwell Christmas Fair is also back with a range of stallholders selling handmade crafts and local products. The gardens will feature sparkling lanterns to guide the way through the ‘Wrapped Orchard’ path to Churchill’s studio where the Christmas tree is decorated in homage to his vibrant paintings.
Festive events: 17th November 2022 – 2nd January 2023
Words: Anna Kamocsai | Subbing: I. B. Beres