A National Trust Christmas - Uppark

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Many of the National Trust homes open their doors for winter these days and allow us a glimpse of Christmas NT style. We recently went to Uppark this weekend to take a glimpse at the below stairs for a Victorian Christmas Party.

Uppark has always been a family favourite to visit – I can remember the fire in the ‘80s and so we have watched with delight as money has been invested into visitor experiences and become a great place for children to explore. At the start of the property is a cabin to pick up the children’s trail which are free although they would love a donation. The boys ran straight over and stayed chatting with the fabulous staff for a good twenty minutes. 

The choice you are greeted with is to hit the new café – absolutely scrumptious and fabulous range – or explore the underground servants’ tunnels or to head into the main house…of course the first thing the boys wanted to do was to hit the tunnels! As ever they were baffled but how on earth the huge long ladder that runs the length of the tunnel can get out, the bat hole – yes truly – was thoroughly watched and then we headed down the tunnel to the sound of the brass band playing over head to the house.

You come in the basement of the house and the children’s trail continues through the rooms down here. The boys rushed from room to room and loved the detail which the staff had put in. Inside the servant’s room is a dance floor and tree festooned with decorations made by Upparks volunteers. A menu is laid out of the meal the servants are preparing. One of our favourite rooms in the National Trust house have to be the kitchens and Uppark delivers here. The boys each took a turn to stir the Christmas pudding mixture and make a wish. They loved the mannequins throughout the house which are designed and created by Denise Watson of Delicarta. The servants’ clothes are made of painted paper – hard to tell they are material and you catch them as they are tidying up after the party upstairs.

One of the benefits of the children’s trail is it opens their eyes to all the smaller details you’re likely to miss as you glance around the room. As they hunt for the box there’s guaranteed to be little squeals of delight as they notice something else sticking out the corner or hidden under the table! Uppark is host also to one of the most stunning doll houses I have ever seen and it even captures the boys’ attentions. They also adore looking in the rooms of the second dolls houses which is a model of the house they are in! Upstairs the house is mostly closed for winter but the dining hall is open allowing you to catch the family in action after the food has been eaten. The attention to detail is stunning but the menu left the boys making demands for Christmas dinner!!!

The new café in the east pavilion is the perfect place to head this winter and if you can try and poach a chair by the window as the view is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. It’s rare for us to be able to all eat a decent meal out – allergy’s and fussy kids – and yet the café has such a huge range of food there was a meal to delight us all. From the chilli non carne to the turkey wellington we all dug in and adored the extra touch of crackers which accompanied the meals.

After such a fabulous meal, of course we had to finish exploring and we had great fun in the stables dressing up and taking pictures with their props. As headed across the park to the dairy our friends couldn’t help but burst in to dance and music!! The lawn does rather cry out for a run and hop I have to say – in summer it’s also perfect for rolling down. We spent a good three hours exploring Uppark and its delights and as day trip out we can highly recommend it regardless of weather conditions!

The National Trust have a lovely array of what’s on this winter – take a look here to see what’s on near you – personally I can’t wait to see the Brothers Grimm display at Hinton Ampner!

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