National Trust's 18th century Nostell Priory's dolls' house gets the festive treatment

Visitors to Nostell near Wakefield will not only see a stately home dressed for Christmas but also a mini version of it in the shape of a 300-year-old dolls’ house.
Trust property curator Simon McCormack dressing the dolls' house for ChristmasTrust property curator Simon McCormack dressing the dolls' house for Christmas
Trust property curator Simon McCormack dressing the dolls' house for Christmas

The National Trust, whic looks after Nostell, has given the 6.5feet high dolls’ house a festive make-over, it’s the first dressing on this scale.

It’s been a delicate operation as the dolls’ house is one of only a handful of surviving 18th-century dolls’ houses in the country.

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“It’s nine rooms are a representation of Nostell, a mood board of sorts, informing the décor of the real house which was being built around the same time,” said Simon McCormack, the Trust’s property xurator

Nostell Dolls House dressed for ChristmasNostell Dolls House dressed for Christmas
Nostell Dolls House dressed for Christmas

"It’s very special, and more intact than the full-size house which has undergone redecoration and alteration over time.

" As you can imagine, decorating it for Christmas required a lot of planning, thought and care.

“A team of staff sourced suitably sized trees for five of the rooms. Everything is to scale, and the trees we used are eight inches high, equivalent to about 12-foot high tree in a full sized house.

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“We used beads and gems as bauble decorations and protected the floor. We also had to consider weight. And check there were no fumes coming from the artificial trees that could harm 300-year-old materials in the room.

“Because the rooms are so small, we planned in advance what had to move where to create the space to add the trees.

“We found an artificial swag to dress the hall stairs with, something which we’ve done in the ‘big’ house too. As well as visitors, we hope the dolls in the house enjoy the decorations,” adds Simon.

In the 18th century dolls’ houses, known as ‘baby houses’ were not playthings for children. Older girls and young women would have used them to develop their design and household management skills. And skilled craftsmen would have been employed to furnish them.

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There are lots of festive things going on at Nostell this month.

The house is decorated with the finest foliage from Nostell's landscape.

The fires will be lit, seasonal music will be playing and there will be Christmas crafts to keep the little ones entertained in the workshop.

Adding to the magic, the exquisite doll’s house will also be decorated with miniature Christmas trimmings.

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Father Christmas is expected to visit the house on most weekends during December so you might spot him as he walks around the house or, perhaps you’ll see him having a cheeky pre-Christmas snooze by the fire.

Outside the parkland and gardens are the perfect backdrop to a winter walk and there’s a winter trail for families to follow, before calling into the cafe for a warming hot chocolate and a slice of cake to refuel.

The house is open selected days in December, while the parkland, gardens and tea-room are open daily – except Christmas Day.

You can also visit other Trust properties including: Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden, Ripon; Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire; Treasurer’s House, York; Beningbrough Hall, East Riddlesden Hall, near Keighley; Wentworth Castle Gardens, Rotherham, South Yorkshire and coast and countryside places – Roseberry Topping, Brimham Rocks, Marsden Moor, Hardcastle Crags and parts of the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park