Christmas magic in Chatsworth shines with fabulous decorations and storybook scenes
The best moments of the festive shows of the past two decades have been reinterpreted for 2021 and presented to the public on Saturday, November 6.
A giant 24-foot tree decorated with 2,000 balls greets visitors in Painted Hall, the inner courtyard is blanketed in snow, the State Dining Room table is on fire with vibrant flower arrangements, drawn crackers and party poppers and Jack’s bean rises from a staircase.
In the Oak Room, mischievous weasels loot a box of decorations while Mr. Toad relaxes in front of a fire.
This year’s highlights include a life-size music box that takes pride of place in the chapel and outdoor snow scene, with snow flurries, Narnia recalls.
Suzie Stokoe, Head of Textiles, is responsible for the Christmas design at Chatsworth. She said: “We really wanted to capture the magic and nostalgia of Christmas.
“For me, Christmas is a time when the Chatsworth family unites on a common project. Florists made the flowers on the dining table, curatorial assistants made paper figures for The 12 Days. Christmas, the garden team brought in the trees and the house team made the fake fireplaces. There is pride in the people who work here for what we deliver. Christmas is and that’s what I love. “
Suzie described the preparation for opening day as “a bit of a juggernaut”. Staff should dress the house in their Christmas ornaments when visitors are not around and keep abreast of their main duties.
But the dedication the Chatsworth family puts in making it a magical experience for the public is rewarded by the interest the Christmas event generates. Suzie said: “Christmas has been so difficult for everyone last year, so this year there is a real desire and a need to go out and have a good time with friends and family. We’ve broken social media records in three and a half hours this season. “
Visitors will notice a few missing features in the Magic of Christmas display compared to previous years as part of measures to minimize the risk of Covid infection. Suzie said: “We can’t have wishing trees, which is something very popular in Chatsworth, as people stop and read them, share pencils and share the office.”
The actors are also absent to avoid traffic jams due to groups of people taking photos and due to budget restrictions.
Ironically, the theme for 2020 was Merry Christmas and the staff were hopeful the audience would see their work sparkling. Suzie said: “We found out three days before the opening that we weren’t going to open, so we decided to finish it anyway. Walking through and turning off the lights was sad as we then went into lockout. “
The magic of Christmas comes full circle in history. This year’s exhibit celebrates two decades since Chatsworth House opened for the holiday season to help revive the tourism industry which was hit hard by foot-and-mouth disease in 2001.