At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Christmas was not regarded as a significant event. However, in 1848, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree. The trend was adopted by the British people and by the end of the nineteenth century Christmas in the UK had become the major annual celebration it is today, with trees, homemade decorations, Christmas cards and gifts.
Michael Howell will bring ‘A Victorian Christmas at Harewood’ to life as he transforms the iconic House to showcase the Victorians’ love of Christmas. Harewood’s magnificent State Floor, which is one of the principal locations for Victoria, will be beautifully dressed with stunning Victorian decorations, while ‘below stairs’, in the kitchens, visitors will get a sense of the hustle and bustle of a stately country house, with a cornucopia of traditional Christmas foods being prepared.
Harewood’s volunteers will help Michael create this special event with the design and decoration, wrapping presents and preparing the house and grounds. A unique highlight will include loans from Ilkley Toy Museum, including toy soldiers, rare dolls from the era, board games and dolls houses. Visitors will also have the rare opportunity of exploring the award-winning gardens – which are usually closed throughout the winter months – until 3:30pm daily.
As well as ‘A Victorian Christmas’, visitors will be able to enjoy a series of events and activities for all ages, including wreath making, twilight tours, floristry workshops and Fireside Father Christmas.
Harewood House is a treasure that sits in the heart of Yorkshire, a short drive from Leeds, Harrogate and York.
Other events at Harewood House this Christmas include:
Fireside Father Christmas at Harewood
Saturday 25 November – Saturday 23 December 2017
On selected dates, Mr Claus and his elves will be welcoming groups of lucky children into the Servants’ Hall to hear a Christmas story read by Father Christmas and to receive a special gift.
30 November 2017, 7th December, 21st December, 28th December
6.30pm – 8.30pm
Join us for an exclusive out of hours tour of Harewood and explore our Victorian Christmas displays after dark. This special twilight tour includes a welcome drink and mince pie on arrival, before you are taken on an after-hours tour of the State Floor and Below Stairs. See the beautiful rooms dressed by award-winning set designer Michael Howells, and learn more from our expert guides on the history of Harewood, and the stories and traditions of Victorian Christmases in the House.
Christmas Wreath Making with Leafy Couture
Wednesday 6 December 2017
10am – 12pm
Create a beautiful seasonal wreath for your door this festive season with Leafy Couture flower school. Using the most sumptuous seasonal foliages and fruits and berries we shall guide you gently to create a stunning traditional mossed wreath. Taking inspiration from the historic surroundings of Harewood we shall bring the spirit of a traditional Christmas with the scents of cinnamon, herbs and pine.
Toys of the Victorian Era: A Talk and Tour from Ilkley Toy Museum
Monday 11 December 2017
11am – 12.15pm
Join John Samuel from Ilkley Toy Museum for refreshments and a short presentation of how the museum collection came to be formed. Then join him as we tour the House looking at the various toys on loan, and hear some in depth detail and history of the exhibits. Find out about Sophie and Validimir’s links to Queen Victoria and the Russian Royal family, and who Mrs Kendall of Mrs Kendall’s Toy Shop really was!