By this point in the year you’ve probably packed away your Christmas decorations and it’s the same at Attingham. Although, as might be imagined, tidying up after our 1940s Christmas took place on a much larger scale in the mansion!
The mansion was closed on Christmas Eve so that the house team and volunteer flower arrangers can remove the flower arrangements and as many of the Christmas trees as possible. If they were left too long in the mansion when it is closed then decaying flowers or falling pine needles might damage historic surfaces, even though we tried to protect them as well as possible with sheets of Melinex plastic. The water used to prolong the life of the flowers and trees might damage the collection by leaking or evaporating into the atmosphere and raising humidity levels. The basement volunteers were also busy in the aftermath of Christmas packing away food that was made for displays so that it did not decay or attract pests.
It felt strange to be putting away Christmas decorations the day before Christmas but it was satisfying to know we’ve made a start undecorating ready for the New Year. The Butler’s Pantry was used as a store for decorations as they were carefully removed from the trees and organised ready for reusing next year. Having a separate bag for each of the three different colours of baubles on the Drawing Room tree helped.
Removing the vintage teacups that were individually wired onto the branches of the Dining Room tree was particularly nerve-wracking. Unwinding the tree lights can sometimes be tricky, especially the ones that were cable tied to the trees!
It was high time to remove many of the trees as they were dropping lots of needles. The needles falling off the Servant’s Hall tree as it was undecorated sounded like monsoon rain falling onto the plastic protection!
The warden team helped with removing the trees from the house and loading them into their trailer to take to burn on the estate. Some of the trees were so large that they needed to be sawn into smaller sections so that they fitted through the doors without causing damage. It was easier bringing them in when they were compressed in netting bags!
With Christmas out of the way the house team are now deep cleaning the mansion and returning furniture moved over Christmas to the show rooms. You can enjoy guided tours of the mansion this winter and maybe see some conservation work in progress. Winter Mansion Tours take place at timed intervals on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the 11th of February and can be booked via the National Trust’s What’s On web page for Attingham, or call 03442491895.