Victorian “Festmas” at Rockingham Castle…..with thanks to jenn @jenn for the new word!
In 1544 Henry V111 granted Rockingham Castle to Edward Watson who turned the dilapidated castle unto a family home. Since then, for almost 500 years, it has remained in the hands of the Watson family.
On a dank tuesday OH and myself drove to Rockingham Castle to meet friends Liam and Liz. We had the obligatory tea and coffee in a (draughty) marquee and caught up with the news. Much refreshed we made our way to the courtyard where the butler was waiting to greet us.
We presented our tickets at the office where a Victorian lady was officiating behind the till. She observed that all the ladies were wearing strange things on their legs…….had they borrowed their husband’s breeches, she asked. One elderly lady said we could take them off, to the amusement of the visitors! I asked if we could take photographs and she said that lightboxes had not been invented and pointed to a notice asking that cameras and phones should not be used……..I hope you realise that I am going to get into serious trouble one day for sneaking photos for you lot when nobody is looking!!! Some of the photos are a little out of focus because I was having to take them as quickly as possible……along with another lady who was asked to put her “lightbox” away.
We moved into the servant’s living room where the governess was waiting to give us the story and tour of the rooms……..and so we begin.
It is Christmas Eve 1849……..the first room was the kitchen with a table laden with mince pies, cakes and everything that would have been prepared for the family. Sadly I didn’t manage a photo but out in the corridor in front of the kitchen hatch were these goodies…..quite authentic aren’t they?
As we walked along the corridor we peeped into the butler’s pantry before entering the family dining room.
In each of the rooms the governess would tell us tales of the family and her charges and there was a lot of good natured banter between her and us. She recited part of a poem for us as well.
I managed to take some photos of the corridor tree and other bits while she was recounting more tales but I didn’t take one of the library which was a lovely cosy family room.
Next to the housekeeper’s sitting room (a very garrulous lady) where she approached Liz and I and remarked that, as we were in strange leg wear, she was a very good dressmaker and could make us a dress each at a reasonable price. I informed her that we couldn’t afford a dress and she was most unhappy as she thought we were gentry……ha ha! No photo here as there were too many servants about!
Finally we made our way upstairs to the grand gallery where a pianist was playing. We were shown portraits of the master and his lady and the governess’s two charges. She then invited us all to sing around the piano and We Wish You a Merry Christmas resounded round the room.
I can’t really convey what a lovely tour it was due to the lack of photos and the fact that it was all due to the “governess” taking us all back to that time. This was our 3rd visit and each time we have had a different guide, the first two being the butler and the housekeeper so you get a different aspect of life there each time.
After the tour we, of course, headed for the restaurant and were lucky to get a table fairly quickly. We all enjoyed a roast turkey lunch followed by xmas pudding in brandy sauce……yummy.
Time to walk off all that food so come into the garden with me.
There was a lot of tree work going on and, later in the rose garden where, incidentally there were loads of blooms and buds, three gardeners looking very busy.
This is called the elephant hedge….can you see why?!
A pergola and down at the bottom, one lone delphinium.
Tucked away we came upon a water feature.
We finished our day in the gift shop which is always a little bit different from others. We decided not to have a cuppa as we were all full so we made our way back to the cars and said goodbye. I spotted this pretty cottage on the way out.