Have yourself a Victorian Christmas

Published 14 December 2015

The Victorians began many of our beloved Christmas traditions; the turkey, mulled wine, cards and of course, the Christmas tree. Rediscover our festive heritage at these museums and grand houses.

1. Tyntesfield, Somerset

Free with National Art Pass

Tyntesfield was originally built as a family home, lived in by four generations of Gibbs between 1843 and 2001. It is a rare example of a Victorian property with a private purpose-built chapel – the design of which was inspired by the flamboyant Gothic architecture of Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Leading up to Christmas, you can enjoy concerts in the chapel with brilliant acoustics. There is also a garden tour on Boxing Day and a dog walk around the spectacular grounds on 27 December.

2. Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Free with National Art Pass

Queen Victoria built her much-loved holiday home as a haven from the pressures of court duties. Osborne House has all the elements and grandeur of an Italian house, however it was really a family retreat where the queen could spend time with her husband and their nine children. This season, you can go on one of the Festive Tours to discover how Christmas was celebrated when Queen Victoria and her family were in residence. You can also join the members of the household as they prepare for a Victorian Christmas weekend.

3. Charles Dickens Museum, London

Free with National Art Pass

The museum, an elegant townhouse, is where Dickens lived at the start of his career and is the birthplace of classics such as Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. This Christmas, it hosts a number of Dickensian events including a special exhibition to celebrate A Christmas Carol (which Dickens wrote in six weeks in the winter of 1843). The exhibition showcases original works by illustration students featuring their take on Dickens’s timeless novella.

4. Preston Park Museum and Grounds, Cleveland

Free with National Art Pass

Preston Hall is a magnificent mansion surrounded by 100 acres of stunning parkland. Don’t miss 1895 – The Victorian Street, a recreation of 19th-century society with a fully restored Victorian tea room and shops including a printer, a draper and a grocer. Every weekend up to Christmas, there will be opportunities to meet Santa Claus as well as craft workshops including one on making Christmas robins.

5. Blists Hill Victorian Town, Shropshire

Free with National Art Pass

Experience life as it was over 100 years ago at this interactive museum based on a typical Victorian town. Spanning 54 acres, gain a real insight into Victorian life by visiting the cottages, shops and work places of the era. Exchange money at the bank into pounds, shillings and pence, tuck into some traditionally cooked fish and chips or take a trip around the town in a horse and cart.

Enjoy 50% off admission price to exhibitions at major museums including Tate, V&A and the National Gallery with a National Art Pass.

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