Finding myself out of bed and dressed before ten on a cold and frosty Sunday morning, I decided to take my new camera along to Seaton Delaval Hall, having spotted something on twitter earlier this week about a Christmas Fair taking place there this weekend. Small, but perfectly formed, I find the gardens here so peaceful. With the brightly coloured roses in the ornate box hedge cut back for winter and trees devoid of colour, it was down to the holly bushes with their vivid red berries and Georgian architecture to do the talking.
The grounds are pleasure gardens for young and old, and continue to delight no matter the season. This morning, they were particularly beautiful as frost clung to branches under a golden halo of winter sun. Tree-lined gravel pathways lead you down to the old weeping willow (an impressive 300+ years old) where you’ll find a pretty summerhouse tucked behind the trees in the Privy Garden.
Generously decorated with wings, balustrades, towers and turrets; to me Seaton Delaval Hall is like a miniature Palace of Versailles.
Pushing open an enormous door into the entrance, it felt like you were entering a fairy story through a door so large it was surely designed for some mythical creature or giant instead of ordinary you. As the bright winter sunlight dashed across the sky-high ceiling and golden sandstone, garlands and wreaths hung daintily overhead. Spotting a few familiar faces amongst the stalls, I headed to French Oven for a freshly baked croissant and four of their finest rum truffles (my absolute favourite!)
Further on through the Hall were more festive stalls, but my favourite had to be the wreath making stall filled with festive foliage like fresh holly and ivy from the gardens. Stopping for a photo opportunity every five minutes, I finally found my perfect shot inside the stables as I stumbled upon a string quartet sat playing carols. Little ones, big ones, grandmas and granddads all huddled around the players and sang carols to their tune. Taking me back to primary school and putting on nativity shows, I was surprised at how many of the words I remembered. I must have sat there for at least half an hour before the players enjoyed a final applause and rounds of hot cocoa.
Slipping out of the stables after a mug of cocoa, I walked back to the car with a big smile on my face. Feeling festive and warm inside, it seems I’d come at the right time this morning as the crowds began to descend into the hall in search of festive spirit.