Lights are in place, the trees are up, the wine is mulling and the straw is down ready for the arrival of Father Christmas’ reindeer as the National Trust’s team finalise preparations to welcome thousands to one of the counties best loved festive days out – Christmas at Trelissick.
One of south Cornwall’s most prominent houses with beautiful views over the Fal, Trelissick has once again been lovingly decorated by staff and volunteers and will be awash with colourful illuminations after dusk. The Garden and house will be open from 10.30am ‘til 7pm on twelve days this month for all the family to enjoy a visit which will also include the opportunity of a warm glass of mulled wine from the Aga in the kitchen, a room only opened during December. Father Christmas will also be visiting daily and you have the exclusive chance to meet two of his reindeer in the stables on each Saturday and Sunday in December.
In 2014 over ten thousand people arrived to enjoy Christmas at Trelissick, but this year the team are offering something different, as Jon Cummins, Visitor Services and Enterprises Manager explains: “to help us bring to life the Christmas spirit and with it some of Trelissick’s stories we are working with a Cornish firm of young and emerging performers, The Story Republic.”
Amanda Harris Director of Story Republic says: “The Story Republic is very excited to be working with Trelissick over Christmas. We have commissioned new stories inspired by the house, developed a repertoire of wintry songs and poems and mixed them with a touch of glamour and magic to surprise and delight the visitor … I can’t give much more away, you’ll have to come and see us”
We can reveal that one story will feature former owner of Trelissick, Thomas ‘Guinea a minute’ Daniell – so called as he allegedly made a guinea a minute from tin and copper mining in the 1780’s. The Daniell family have strong links to Truro and are featured in the Poldark novels.
If you were watching Truro’s City of Lights parade last month you might remember that a sculpture of Daniell featured, this will be on display as part of Christmas at Trelissick.
Preparing for the festivities at Trelissick isn’t that different to being at home, as Jon explains:
“You get the tree in, decorate it, string some lights in the garden and lay the table, however the difference at Trelissick is that this means getting in 30 trees (several are five metres tall), an army of volunteers and staff to decorate them, using the finest Spode Copeland china and lighting up 200-year-old trees and a classical mansion.”
Jon adds: “Preparing our Christmas programme is a huge team effort involving all the team from gardeners and rangers to the car parkers and our cooks. We have people involved who’ve been with us four months, others who’ve known Trelissick for decades”.
One such character is volunteer, Barry Champion, who has a connection to Trelissick stretching back some 37 years. While he was putting the finishing touches to some of the decorations Barry told us:
“I started at Trelissick back in the mid-1970’s, living on the property and working as head gardener. Since retiring I’ve returned as a volunteer, along with my wife Lynn. We’re now involved as house guides, in research and in preparing for Christmas opening. I’ve seen Trelissick grow enormously over the years and it now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year but no matter how busy we are it still retains a tight knit family feel – we always have a laugh and smile as we work”.
The team in Crofters Café will have a tasty festive menu on sale including their famous mince pies, the National Trust Shop and our second-hand bookshop are offering a great selection of gifts for all the family. With their own ‘Black Friday’ on 4 December everyone can also get 20% off everything exclusively at Trelissick National Trust’s shop, the largest in Cornwall and Devon.
With all of this together it really wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Trelissick.