What goes on behind the scenes at Standen House, an Arts & Crafts family home

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Dressing up the House

Jan and Sue decorating the Stairs this morning

Jan and Sue decorating the Stairs this morning

Every year the house is decorated for Christmas in either a Victorian or 1920s style and you all get to come in and see the finished product. But not this year; if you come to visit in the next two weeks we will still be dressing the house up for the festive season.

Two ladies, Jan and Sue, from our volunteering team are in charge of organizing who does what when as well as being the first ones in to decorate. We do take pictures of what was done the previous Christmas, especially regarding the placement – and decorations – of the Christmas tree but mostly Jan and Sue rely on their memories of what worked – and did not work – from the previous year.P1040305

Christmas in the 1920s was similar to today – although not as commercialized. The children eagerly await the arrival of Father Christmas and their presents. Christmas trees were put up and lit with real candles – tinsel was even used though it looked more like long strands of silver and gold. Whole families would gather together, attend Church and have a big Christmas meal – though you were more likely to find beef on the table instead of turkey. Branches and leaves were used to decorate the house inside and out as well as Christmas Wreaths on the doors.

The Wreaths

The Wreaths

For the Beales, Christmas was a time to gather together. Mr Beale (and later one of his sons) would dress up as Father Christmas whilst the children would hide in the Hall. Father Christmas would then sneak into the Drawing Room, clatter the fire tongs and the children would come running in to see him, most especially to see what presents they were getting.

Later in the life of the Beale family, Christmas became one of the few occasions for the family to gather at Standen.



Getting ready for Christmas: a sneak peek

photo 2

The last week in November is a very busy one here at Standen: all across the house, gardens and estate, preparations are being made for the festive season. So I thought I’d offer you a (very brief) sneak peek of what we in the house have been up to, before I head off to help.

Christmas decorations

Rustic decorations on one of our real Christmas trees

Christmas sees the house dressed for a traditional 1920s celebration with the Beale family. We brought out the vast quantities of Christmas decorations from storage, and brought in the fragrant pine trees from outside, ready for our small army of volunteers to begin decorating.

Christmas decorations

Traditional decorations, handmade by our volunteers

Monday was a long day, punctuated by lots of cups of tea (who knew decorating could be such thirsty work?!), but by the end of the day, we had got a lot of the decorations in place.

By the middle of the week, the house will be ready for Christmas, and we will move on to another of our festive traditions: our annual volunteer Christmas parties, when we get the chance to say thank you to our volunteers, and let them know that we really appreciate all that they do.

So a very busy, but exciting week ahead!

(See here for more about what’s on offer at Standen this Christmas).