"Christmas at an English Country House": X-mas Guest Post and Giveaway with Nicola Cornick
Christmas at an English Country House
Thank you very much for inviting me to visit the blog and join in the Christmas celebrations here!
This year I’m celebrating Christmas at an English Country House. Not my country house (though I’m working on that!) but the one where I work when I’m not writing. Ashdown House is a seventeenth century hunting lodge in the most romantic setting imaginable, an ancient forest. In the deep midwinter it looks like a fairytale castle.
How do we dress a historic house for Christmas?
Before the 19th century it was not traditional to have a tree but people used to dress themselves as well as their homes with branches of greenery – rosemary, bay, laurel and mistletoe entwined with branches of pine. Ashdown has a collection of stag’s antlers that are the most perfect place to twine branches and of course the herbs make the house smell delicious.
The huge open fire in the servants’ hall is a lovely place to gather to drink mulled wine, eat mince pies or Christmas cake (or Twelfth Cake, as it was known in those days because it was eaten on Twelfth Night) and sing carols by candlelight. And if we are lucky there is always the chance of a glimpse of the Ashdown ghost…
My favourite old tradition, though, is the Lord of Misrule. From the 17th to the 23rd of December in the houses of the nobility the traditional order of things was overturned, with the nobles waiting on the servants and a great deal of merriment and celebration. A remnant of this ancient custom exists in the current practice of pulling Christmas crackers: after the muffled explosion of the cracker, the prizes are generally revealed to be a joke, a toy or charm, and the paper crown that was once worn by the Lord of Misrule.
And after all that Christmas indulgence it’s no wonder I need to go out for a walk in the snowy woods with the dog on Boxing Day!
So which old fashioned Christmas celebration would you like best? Would you deck yourself – never mind the halls – with boughs of holly or would you like to be the Lord or Lady of Misrule? Would you like to meet the Ghost of Ashdown Christmas Past or would you just prefer the mulled wine, mince pies and a walk in the snowy woods?
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Let me know your preferences and in return I’d like to give a copy of my Christmas-themed book Mistress By Midnight to one commenter.
Very best wishes to everyone for a very Happy Holiday wherever in the world you are celebrating!
Nicola Cornick has generously offered to giveaway a copy of her latest Christmas-themed release, 'Mistress By Midnight' to one (1) lucky commenter! Follow the guidelines below and comment for your chance to win! The giveaway will end on Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 at 11:59:00 PM. The winner will be announced on Christmas Eve and contacted via email shortly after.
Giveaway Guidelines: To be entered in the giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment with either an answer to Nicola's question or a question of your own!
*Make sure to include your email address (NO EMAIL= INVALID ENTRY)