Sunday, December 19, 2010

"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?

Read more in: Author Preview

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!

~*~Giveaway Details~*~
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)
For Extra Entries (do one or more of the following for extra shots at winning):
+2 'Friend' Nicola Cornick on Facebook
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+4 Spread the word: Tweet on Twitter, Post a Facebook status, or blog about this guest post and giveaway (provide a link in you entry comment)
+5 Become a Follower/ Be a Follower

-Tell me in your comment which extra entries you are entitled to or they won't count
Hope you enjoyed today's X-mas Guest Post from Nicola Cornick in:


  1. The house sounds wonderful, Nicola, but I'll stay by the mulled wine and mince pies while I wave you off on your walk.

    Happy Christmas everyone!

  2. Hi Nicola!
    I'd love to go on a sleigh ride. Your posts always have such interesting tidbits. I never knew about Lord Misrule and his connection with the Christmas crackers.
    Happy holidays!

  3. Hi Nicola, a walk in snowy woods please!

    Already a friend on FB
    and Follower of blog.

    Merry Christmas all!

  4. Hi Nicola,
    Don't enter me as I just won your book.But I loved this post. That's some Country Manor. I'd love to be the Lady of the manor. :)
    Carol L

  5. Mulled wine and a walk in the woods, please! :) Such a lovely post, Nicola. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Hello Nicola,
    Ashdown house looks lovely! I'd take a walk in the woods with my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, and a glass of mulled wine by that crackling fire afterwards. I wouldn't mind a peek at the Ashdown Ghost either. Who is he/she?

    Oh, and I just followed you. This blog is a treat.

  7. Hi Nicola,

    Love hearing about Christmas traditions. I think it would be great writing material to sit down with the Ghost of Ashdown and find out little tidbits of gossip about those who came before us.

    BTW, I adore you book covers. Absolutely beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing.


  8. Hi everyone! Just waded my way home through the snow, which feels very christmassy! Thanks so much for dropping in and sharing your favourite old traditions. Jennifer, a sleigh ride would be fabulous at the moment with so much snow around here! Nas, Jennie, the dogs would love a walk in the woods and then we could all join Liz and Gillian the mulled wine around the fire!

    Carol, I'm so pleased you liked the post! Tracey, I'd love to know the history of the several ghosts of Ashdown House...

  9. I'd like to be Lady Misrule, that sounds like a lot of fun:)
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  10. I think I'd like to be Lady of Misrule if Richard Armitage was my Lord of Misrule!! I would love to see Ashdown House in all of its Christmas Glory!

  11. I love hearing about others Christmas traditions. Especially when they are old traditions. I would like to experience anything that involves snow. Since I live in Central Florida where it is hot 80% out of the year I have never seen snow. I want to go on sleigh rides, make angels, snowball fights, anything that pertains to snow.
    +2 'Friend' Nicola Cornick on Facebook
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  12. the decorations sound wonderful (for the house not me), enjoying the festive decor with family/friends & good food /drink in front of a cozy fire also sounds delightful. I don't think I'd want to be the Lady of Misrule -- to much responsibiilty, I'd rather just enjoy ;) Have a wonderful holiday.

    gamistress66 (at)
    aol (dot) com
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  13. Cath, I love the concept of Lady Misrule! I was thinking about this and there is definitely a great story idea in there - I wonder if anyone has written that yet?

    Louisa, Gamistress, I'd be happy to show you Ashdown in its festive glory (sadly, can;t promise RA as well!)

    Danielle, I'd love to send you some of our snow!

    Thanks for the warm welcome on the blog and for all your lovely comments!

  14. I would love to be lady of the house but drinking mulled wine and eating minced pies sounds like my idea of a good time too. I think I would be too tired for the walk though! My servants could do it for me though and tell me all about it later! Thanks for sharing. I now know the reason behind the paper hats I had been curious about that!

  15. Darn, I forgot my email and points here it is:


    +2 like Nicola Cornick on FB
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  16. Mince pies and mulled cider sound great! Anything to keep me warm during a cold winter's day would be great.

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  17. remember the movie The FAmily MAn, i'd love to be given that similar chance to see another aspect of my life.

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  18. Thanks for the giveaway and a look at Christmas traditions. I'd love to be the Lady of Misrule.

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  19. Im gonna go with mulled wine mince pie and a walk. There is nothing like a walk in the snow.

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