Just when you thought all your favourite National Trust properties had closed for the winter, some of Derbyshire’s finest country houses, including Kedleston Hall, Sudbury Hall and Hardwick Hall, have re-opened their doors for the festive season.
In the case of Kedleston, the chance to view the house by candlelight is not to be missed. It’s so atmospheric with the flickering rays playing on the heavily-gilded eighteenth-century furnishings. Before you panic I should add that the candles are fake, but the effect is stunning none the less and makes what can seem like cold, expansive spaces appear a lot more homely.
The Eastern Museum remains closed, but during weekends in December the state rooms are open and suitably decorated for a country house Christmas. Each room is dressed to make you feel like the family have just popped out – so in the drawing room you’ll find there is an abandoned pack of playing cards, but someone’s been cheating and secreted a stray card under their cushion. There’s even a selection of empty drinks glasses which the room steward assured me did not belong to him! Meanwhile, In the saloon the Voices choir were singing Carols around the Christmas tree – the addition of music really brings the place to life and made my visit really quite magical.