I am very fortunate to live within a few miles of two outstanding National Trust properties. Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton are within walking distance of each other and during the summer I visit them on my bike. Both houses have different charms. Baddesley is a moated house in a picturesque setting. The gardens are well laid out and are fantastic to see in the summer months when they are in full bloom. Packwood house is charming and whilst it does not have a moat, there are other unique features. Packwood has the amazing topiary called the Sermon on the Mount and a walled kitchen garden where one can follow the changes in the vegetation during the year. There is little to choose between the two houses.
This Christmas both houses have upped their game and have really gone to town with their decorations. You would almost think that there is a competition between the two properties on who could put on the better display. Looking on the web, I realise that the majority of the National Trust properties enjoy putting up their decorations. This story of Christmas between these two houses is reenacted up and down the country.
Visiting Packwood each December is a delight and this year the house looked very Christmassy inside. Each room of the house has a Christmas tree. The larger Christmas trees are naturally in the bigger rooms. The Entrance Hall Christmas tree is decorated with handmade decorations and has a commanding presence. The three adjacent rooms each with their own Christmas tree are set up for welcoming guests to dinner in the 1920s. The place settings and the arrangement of the food on the table is carefully choreographed.
When photographing National Trust properties, I always look for the small things and those details that you miss whilst looking around the room. I am naturally drawn to the bigger view and as I entered each room, your eyes quickly alight on the brightly lit Christmas trees. The polished wooden floors reflect the light from the trees. For inside photography, I use my iPhone15 as the sensor quickly picks up the colours in the low light. I did try and use a long exposure setting with my compact camera but there were too many people moving around in a small space. Plus the volunteers do become worried when you bring out the tripod even though it is a small travel one.
Packwood has one room off the Long Gallery, that is set up with a minature town scene with skaters on white icelike flooring. As the picture shows the lighting effect in the darkened room produces a magical effect.
The Long Gallery has two more Christmas trees and the final room has a long narrow decorated table that leads to another impressive tree. I counted 8 trees in all (I could be wrong). Along the way there was a story being told as the place was set up for a Christmas masquerade ball.
I did enjoy visiting the house, however, the place I loved the most was the kitchen garden. Here the old tree near to the entrance was decorated with all types of decorations. The afternoon light shimmered on the shiny lanterns. Many of the decorations like those in the house were hand made. There was continuation of the skating theme on the potting shelves.
My Verdict on Packwood. The house is amazing with the Christmas trees that enhanced the beauty of the old building. The best part of my visit was viewing the outside tree in the Kitchen Garden.
Baddesley Clinton is fully prepared for Christmas. As you pass through the shop into the courtyard you, a Christmas tree awaits you. Before entering the house, I walked along the garden paths and loved the large, big red ribbons and the decorations of the summer house with the story of the Holly and the Ivy.
The larger sloping greenhouse on the garden wall had orange slices hung up as decorations and there were pomanders (oranges with cloves) adorning the ceiling. Recipes for making mulled wine and smoking Bishops were available. I love the name of Smoking Bishop for an alcoholic drink. The walled garden and the vegetable growing areas were being prepared for winter by the gardeners and my time slot for the house entrance was due.
The walk through the house was a Christmas tour de force. The kitchen was getting ready for a grand feast. There was a Christmas card display to browse over before entering the grand Christmas tree by an open fire in the Great Hall. The downstairs rooms were a delight to visit with preparations for dinner and carols being many of the activities being featured.
Upstairs the first two rooms were all ready for Christmas presents to be delivered. Lady Chatterton’s Bedroom on the corner room overlooking the orchid was beautifully laid out and included a decorated tree. The next room was the Great Parlour and there was a spectacular frieze of children skating. This had the wow factor. There were two Christmas trees, children skating on the ice and little owls watching the proceedings. The final room had a frieze of a family singing carols. In the room, the exhibit I found most interesting was of the glass ornament that had a model of the house in a large jar.
After such an exciting visit to the house, I retired to the cafe and had a Turkey Bap with trimmings. This was a Christmas dinner at a reasonable price. Another highlight of my visit to the property.
My Verdict on Baddesley Clinton. Great food, some wonderful ideas put into practice with the decoration of the rooms and a garden ready for Christmas.
So two houses, giving two versions of Christmas, lots of trees, decorations, and food. Which of the two properties is better prepared for Christmas? I would recommend visiting and if you read this at a later date, my answer is that they both have captured the Christmas Spirit in a brilliant manner.
Thanks must go the National Trust employees and the volunteers whose industry at Christmas and throughout the year make these properties such fun places to visit. If you enjoyed this blog then I do have other entries of my visits to National Trust properties around the area. Click on this link to find all my visits.
I visited Packwood House at Christmas in 2021 and if you want to see what they did back then, the blog is below.