In a state of undress at Ightham Mote

A box of Christmas decorations for the Great Hall tree at Ightham Mote

There's certainly a buzz about Ightham Mote when the boxes of Christmas decorations come down from the attics and start to get unpacked. Here's a sneak peek of the fun and games the team have as the house is dressed for Christmas.

Rocking around the Christmas tree

Rocking around the Christmas tree
Putting up the Christmas tree in the Great Hall at Ightham Mote

With a medieval house, the floor isn't particularly level, so trying to stop the Christmas tree rocking about becomes a mammoth task. Thank goodness the branches are colour coded, but it's still taken four people to put this puzzle together. And for those of you going shock horror, an artificial tree...they do have their benefits as you don't have to water them or keep hoovering up the needles. Besides, the Victorians used artificial trees, although theirs were initially made from goose feathers that were dyed green, with very few branches.  

 

Up a bit, down a bit

Up a bit, down a bit
The team decorate the Christmas tree in the Great Hall at Ightha Mote with candle lights

Having checked the five strings of lights to make sure each bulb is working, and untangled them (despite having put them away carefully) the task of adding the lights to the tree begins. And why is it that even when you've carefully untangled them, they re-tangle as you start to put them on the tree? It's taken five people to get the lights put up, plus the photographer who just sat there going "left a bit, right a bit, up, no down, maybe left a bit..." (there's always one.)

 

Gloves on, gloves off

Gloves on, gloves off
Unwrapping pieces for the Christmas table at Ightham Mote

All the items for the dinner are carefully packed away in acid free tissue paper, which means it's a bit like unwrapping presents as you have the surprise of discovering what's inside. Unlike with Christmas presents though, you don't have to decide whether you need to wear white cotton gloves or not. As soon as we realise the item is metal, the gloves go on to prevent the acidic oils from our hands damaging them; whereas when we know it's glass and china we have to take the gloves off again as they're too slippery.

 

It's a bit old to eat, but it does look good

Jars of Christmas delights
Jars of Christmas preserves, including pontack sauce are used to decorate the servant's areas at Ightham Mote

With the Christmas trees dressed and the table laid, it's time to add the finishing touches. In the servants areas, we like to show some traditional Christmas goodies; but whilst they may look good enough to eat, they are definitely not for sampling. There are jars labelled with delights such as pontac sauce (elderberry sauce I believe), potted stilton and apple sauce to name but a few.  And when you see the mince pies, we'll let you in to a little secret - it's not a dusting of icing sugar, but a sprinkle of talcum powder.