In the house at Greys Court at Christmas

This article is from 2017, and this event has now finished. This festive season at Grey's Court we're doing something a bit different. It's going to be Christmas Eve night everyday in the house, and the curtains will be drawn, so you can experience Greys Court as the Brunners prepared for Christmas Day. With seasonal collection pieces to look out for, and the possibility of some scrumptious tasters in the kitchen, there's plenty to keep everyone entertained.

Christmas collection around the house

When it comes to the Christmas dressing of the house, there are a few special items that only come out around this time of the year.

In various rooms around the house look out for copies of original, family, Christmas photographs of the Brunners, which are brought out of the archives just for Christmas.

You can also wonder at the beautifully created Laurence Irving calendars, placed around the house, that he used to give as gifts to the Brunner family every Christmas.

The stunning glassware in the dining room is only on display during the festive season as well. This would have been the set they used for entertaining in this season, and at Christmas dinner.

Over the picture of Sir John Brunner in the school room, you will notice a Father Christmas hat sitting on top. The Brunner boys used to do this every year when they were young boys, having some festive, mischievous fun.

Decorations in the school room at Greys Court, Oxfordshire
Close up of Christmas decorations in the school room in the house at Greys Court
Decorations in the school room at Greys Court, Oxfordshire

Sir Hugo Brunner’s memories of Greys Court at Christmas

Our Senior House Steward, Tessa Blake, sat down with Sir Hugo Brunner to hear about his memories of how Christmas was done at Greys Court.  

The Brunner family Christmas celebrations started with attending the Christmas Eve carol service at the local church, St Nicholas’.

On Christmas Day they would attend the 11am church service and then walk back to Greys Court to enjoy mince pies and mulled wine in the Drawing Room, where they would also continue singing Christmas carols. They would then go on to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner in the Dining Room. Sir Hugo said he remembers the traditional turkey, delightful roast potatoes, Christmas pudding with hidden sixpence pieces and home-made tangerine ice-cream in particular. Laurence Irving, Elizabeth Brunner’s brother, and his family used to stay for Christmas lunch as well.

Presents at Greys Court, Oxfordshire
Close up of Christmas presents on a trunk in the house at Greys Court
Presents at Greys Court, Oxfordshire

Presents were always opened after lunch. The Brunner family used to put their Christmas tree on top of the piano in the Drawing Room, with all the presents going underneath the tree on top of the piano! An angel was suspended from the ceiling just above the top of the tree to be the tree topper. The family would then retire to the Schoolroom to toast the Queen’s speech with a glass of port.

The boys used to take part in a number of activities to keep them entertained at Christmas. A game of football on the top lawn became a much-loved tradition, as well as sledging down the hill near Rocky Lane when it snowed, or shooting around the estate.

Baking in the kitchen at Christmas

Christmas cooking in the kitchen at Greys Court
Christmas cooking ingredients and equipment in the kitchen at Greys Court
Christmas cooking in the kitchen at Greys Court

As befitted a former chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Lady Brunner was enthusiastic when it came to home-made food, and this was certainly no different during the Christmas season.

Each week during December the wonderful house volunteers will be baking a different Christmas recipe in the kitchen of the main house. There will be copies of these original Lady Brunner recipes available for visitors to take home from the kitchen, and there may even be some delightful tasters on offer as well.