Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. Nadolig Llawen!
A very enjoyable and educational visit to Chirk Castle at Christmas, 20th December 2019.
At the top of the staircase we enter the State Dining Room. This is a very elegant room with white panelling round the bottom of the walls and pale green paint above, with decorative plaster insets picked out on gold. The C18th fireplace was placed here by Howard de Walden in the C20th.
From the Dining Room we enter the Saloon, originally the Great Parlour. Collections of paintings, tapestries and furniture were on display and guests were often entertained here. The ceiling is the original neo-classical ceiling from the 1770s and features scenes from Greek mythology. On the walls are Mortlake tapestries telling the story of Cadmus, King of Thebes.
Next comes the Long Gallery, my favourite place in the Castle. It had various uses throughout the centuries. In 1910 the castle was leased to Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, the 8th Lord Howard of Walden. He has been described as a shy man, a polymath (a man of many interests) and an eccentric millionaire. His wife, Marguerita, daughter of Charles van Raalte, was a fabulous party organiser, and soprano singer, and Chirk Castle became a regular haunt for royalty, statesmen and the glitterarti. Much of the entertainment took place in the Long Gallery.
Thomas wrote plays for his six children to perform every Christmas in the Long Gallery.
As we near the 2020’s, Chirk Castle is looking back to Christmas in the 1920’s, celebrating this unusual former tenant. The National Trust, who manage the castle, have used Thomas’s plays to inspire a Christmas makeover, with six Pantomime- themed trees decorating the grandest rooms. Dozens of staff and volunteers have spent weeks transforming the building into a festive fairytale castle.
Sitting by a window overlooking the courtyard and imagining how life could have been back then.
And a final visit to the Chapel.