A decorated Christmas 2016

Visitors looking at a festivly decorate table at Stourhead

Each Christmas we open the doors to Stourhead House and welcome visitors to explore the family home at this festive time.

It doesn’t all happen overnight and behind the scenes a team of staff and volunteers have been working hard once again to create decorations for the house this Christmas. Every year when the house opens its doors for the festive season, all the decorations on show have been handmade and can inspire with ideas for your own home.

The decorations have been created to showcase Harry Hoare’s childhood, how the family enjoyed the festive period and the collection within the house itself.

The Entrance Hall welcomes you with Christmas decorations from the past, when it was traditional to deck the walls and windows with evergreens and foliage. This echo from customs long ago gives a gentle transition from the outdoors to the formal indoor space.

Like many families today, Harry, his parents and ancestors dating back to Henry the Good, loved animals and the Inner Hall is dressed to showcase this. Animals were an important part of their lives, and Harry was given his very own dog, a black retriever called Sweep when he was 12 years old. “We bred him in the kennels and he has lived in the house since March 1910” Lady Hoare wrote in her diary.

Harry’s Mother, Alda was a keen supporter or literature and music the decorations in the Italian room represents this. She had formed a close relationship with local author Thomas Hardy and as such the library contains a collection of first edition volumes signed by Hardy and annotated by Lady Hoare. Some of the decorations that adorn the tree are made from a second hand copy of Thomas Hardy’s The Well-Beloved and vintage sheet music.

The Picture Gallery is the last room that you will enter, and was commissioned by Sir Richard Colt Hoare and completed in 1802 to house the families collection of Old Masters and contemporary paintings. At Christmas it captures Harry’s Victorian childhood with Rosalinda the rocking horse taking centre stage underneath the tree. This year we are looking forward to also displaying a selection of little boys toys on loan from the Sudbury Museum of Childhood.

The Christmas trees and their decorations are accompanied by wonderful seasonal flower arrangements with foliage from the garden. They are created by volunteers, the local Women’s Institute and local florists and a real sight to behold.

Harry’s childhood was a happy and loving one, we hope that you too feel the joy and love that the family shared this Christmas time.

The house is open every day from 28 November until the 22 December, 11am – 3.30pm (last entry at 3pm) so do come along and be inspired with ideas for your own home this Christmas.