Twinkling trees, a crackling fire, magical landscapes and Father Christmas – there are so many wonderful images that conjure up the perfect traditional Christmas.
This winter, make the National Trust part of your family’s Christmas tradition. Houses in West Sussex are set in some of the country’s most picturesque locations, and they’re hosting an imaginative programme of delights for all ages, mixing festive favourites with new experiences that are unique to our properties.
Discover beautifully decorated rooms, crafty fun and enchanting trails. The National Trust is also helping Father Christmas prepare for the festive season, sourcing the very special locations for his grotto.
Every single visit this Christmas will support the Trust’s work as a charity looking after special places for future generations to enjoy.
Here are some Christmas highlights in West Sussex:
Petworth House and Park
A Country House Christmas
Inspired by period issues of Country Life magazine, this magnificent 17th-century mansion presents several rooms dressed for a vintage-style country house Christmas, with a quirky twist.
Step into a welcoming atmosphere of log fires and wellingtons, evergreen trees and glamorous sparkle. The rooms are set to welcome guests for a luxurious evening of traditional entertainments and dinner. From warm tweed rugs to magnificent fir trees, gilded baroque angels to a vintage Nativity scene, Petworth House is dressed to impress this winter. There are seasonal treats on offer too; visit the famous Servants’ Quarters to discover more.
There’s lots of fun for younger visitors to Petworth House this Christmas. Follow the quiz trail through the grounds, then write and post your very own letter to Santa. You can meet the man himself for a chat and a chocolate gift too. Work off some energy after Christmas by following the cook’s trail in the gardens; you’ll discover the recipe ingredients to make a gingerbread snowman at home.
A Country House Christmas: 6 December – 2 January, 11am – 3pm (closed 24 & 25 Dec)
All I want for Christmas trail: 13 – 24 December, 10.30am – 3pm, £3
Meet Father Christmas: 13, 14, 20, 21 December, 11am – 3pm, £5 (including treat)
Gingerbread trail: 26 December – 2 January, 10.30am – 3pm, £3
For more information on Petworth House call 01798 342207 or visit ww.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house.
A 1920s Christmas
Explore the sparkling world of a 1920s Christmas at Nymans - one of the National Trust’s most picturesque places. Enjoy a stroll through the famous gardens, beautifully lit for the festive season; then peep into the candlelit decorated Garden Hall* to find out what Christmas in the 1920s was like when the artistic Messel family lived here. There are mince pies and mulled wine to warm you, whilst in Nymans’ pretty forecourt visitors are invited to try one of the Messels’ favourite cocktails, made from calvados, dubonnet and grapefruit juice!
Nymans’ new Christmas trail takes children on a journey through the gardens. Father Christmas is in residence, ready to receive those all-important wish lists, and distribute gifts to all his young visitors. Cosy up by the fire in the Potting Shed for storytelling, or indulge in some crafty Christmas fun.
Nymans is alive with the sounds of Christmas this winter, with community and school choirs singing favourite carols.
Nymans presents a 1920s Christmas: 1 December – 6 January, 10am – 4pm, normal admission charge only. *Garden Hall open until 24 December, 11am – 3pm
Father Christmas visits: 6, 7, 13, 14 December, 10.30am – 3.30pm, £5, booking essential on the Santa Hotline – 01444 405250
Storytelling: 22 December, 1 – 3.30pm
Christmas crafts in the Potting Shed: every day, at various times throughout the day
Christmas carols: 6, 13, 20 December, at various times throughout the day
For more information on Nymans call 01444 405250 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans
Uppark House and Garden
Sir Harry’s Christmas Party
Uppark was once the home of 19th-century party boy Harry Fetherstonhaugh, who loved to entertain. This winter, wander through rooms decorated for Harry’s Christmas party; the Dining Room is set for a sumptuous feast, whilst the Tapestry Bedroom is dressed for a children’s Christmas. Visit the servants’ quarters to find out what special ingredients go into a traditional Christmas pudding. Miniature festive decorations can also be glimpsed inside Uppark’s famous doll’s house.
Outside, the stables have been transformed for an important visit from Father Christmas; children can make their way through a winter wonderland to meet him, and to receive a special gift.
Kick-start some Christmas spirit with Stir Up Sundays at Uppark. Stir a traditional Christmas pudding, make a wish and take home a bag of spaces and a sixpence for your own pudding.
A Victorian Christmas at Uppark: 6, 7, 14, 21 December, 11am - 3pm
Meet Father Christmas: 6, 7, 14, 21 December, 11am – 3pm, adults £3.50, children £5.50, includes gift (normal admission fee applies)
Stir up Sundays: 22 & 30 November, 11am – 3pm, 50p
For more information on Uppark, please call 01730 825 415 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/uppark
There are warming festive treats on offer at all our properties’ tea rooms and restaurants this Christmas, whilst shops offer a colourful selection of unique Christmas gifts, many locally sourced.
For more information on National Trust events, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events.
Report and pictures contributed by the National Trust.