|Edition One Hundred and Twelve|
A very attractive First Period Worcester slops bowl, decorated in underglaze cobalt blue with applied gilt decoration in the form of flowers and delicate foliage. This bowl dates from c1775 and is marked with the underglaze blue open crescent mark of the famous Worcester factory. This mark was used at the factory between 1755-90.
More details of this item and other tea related antiques can be found by visiting my web site at www.TeaAntiques.com.
Last Christmas, was I think, in England one of the mildest ones on record - certainly not a white Christmas! However, the National Trust put on a 'white Christmas' at one of their houses, Hinton Ampner, Hampshire. As with Hinton Ampner, many other National trust properties decorate their house in period style, often with a particular theme. At Hinton Ampner it was decorated in everything white in a period around the 1950's. Included in their Christmas opening is one opening during the evening hours so that the visitor can enjoy the house lit for Christmas.
Visitors were greeted this year by a classic old white Zephyr car parked outside the front door, wrapped in a red ribbon, like a Christmas gift. Inside the car it was packed with Christmas parcels all wrapped in neat white wrapping and tied with bright red ribbons.
Entering the Hall of the house the magic of Christmas begun with the first of the Christmas trees bedecked with white baubles and pure white lights. Surrounding the tree on the marble floor a stash of white wrapped Christmas parcels, as if there waiting for them to be torn open on Christmas morning by eager little children.
A brass band was seated in the Hall welcoming visitors with the playing of well known Christmas Carols. Some visitors felt inclined to join in and sing the words, I thought better of it knowing how my own voice would sound!
At one end of the Hall a fireplace set with a white light glow in the grate and a garland of fresh greenery gathered from the garden swaged along the mantelpiece. Enriched with white ribbons, the garland had four white festive Christmas stocking hanging ready for Santa to fill with toys and goodies for the children.
The theme turned more towards adult Christmas entertainment in the truly beautiful yellow Drawing room. In front of one of the fireplaces stood a handsome Georgian cellaret, filled with artificial ice and holding bottles of Champagne and Champagne glasses as if on chill ready for the celebrations to begin.
The fireplace mantelpiece was decorated with a mistletoe garland, this having an abundance of its pure snow white berries. The garland was filled with a string of tiny white lights.
Turning towards the second part of the room, the true Christmas glory became apparent in the large and beautifully decorated Christmas tree positioned in the elegant bay window. Again the tree was decorated with an abundance of white Christmas decorations and white lights. More presents wrapped in crisp white paper and white ribbons were pilled up around the room waiting for the recipients to open on Christmas day.
Even the orchids in pots in this room had pure white flowers.
Once again the mantelpiece was embellished with a festive garland, this time with ivy and white flower heads. More white parcels were pilled up around the foot of the Christmas tree.
Moving through into the Library, we can see this as a rather male domain, there is a top hat perched on a settee together with a fine pair of white cloves - necessary accessories for a top class formal evening party. Next to the settee an attractive table, the top of which is inset with different types of marble. On this table is a bottle of Cinzano and on another a tray of glasses ready for that all important cocktail to be mixed and served.
In what was Ralph Dutton's, the owner and builder of the this house, Study the fireplace is filled with white logs from a silver birch tree. around which are tangled a set of little white lights for a very festive effect. On the fire hearth are placed a multitude of candles in various sizes. What a picture they would make when lit on a dark winter's evening.
Finally, the pièce de résistance, the Dining Room. This beautiful room painted in a soft green is decorated in the style of Robert Adam. In the centre of the room a magnificent dining table decorated all in white in readiness for formal Christmas dinner.
The table is covered with a crisp white tablecloth and each place setting is set with an elegantly folded napkin. The finely polished silver cutlery shows up beautifully against the starched white table cloth. Along the centre of the table are a series of very tall silver candelabra and vases holding posies of white flowers. These decorations are deliberately high so as not to block the view between guests on either side of the table.
As well as the sparkling cut crystal wine glasses on the table, there are dome covered tazzas containing fluffy white meringues for the dessert and a fine sweet wine. All the splendour of this table is reflected in the elegant circular fan shaped gilded mirror on the wall at the head of the table.
A two pier side-board sits in an arched recess behind the table. On this sits exquisite silver-gilt glass bowled desert stands and porcelain serving dishes, from which the dinner will be served.
The fireplace is again beautifully decorated with the pure white berried mistletoe and bright white lights.
In the bay window of the room there is yet another Christmas tree, this time an artificial one all in white surrounded by more white Christmas parcels.
On leaving the house, I noticed by the front door a line up of white Wellington boots, maybe ready for some of the household to partake in a little walk around the gardens after all the Christmas excesses?
Although there is no snow to be seen outside, this night was a perfect night lit by a full moon throwing an eerie light on the house and garden. Walking round the outside of the house, it was nice to peer into the windows to see the Christmas lights and decorations - how warm, cosy and inviting it all appeared.
If ever you get the opportunity to visit one of the many National Trust houses opening their doors for Christmas, I can strongly recommend them to get you into the Christmas spirit of times past.
A few pictures from 2012 Victorian Christmas at Hinton Ampner
Bramdean, near Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 0LA
Telephone: 01962 771305
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