Osterley Park and House, near Isleworth, in Middlesex, is a magnificent mansion surrounded by gardens, park and farmland. Once described as the 'palace of palaces', it was created in the late 18th century by architect Robert Adam for the Child family to entertain and impress their friends.
On 11 December, fans of Charles Dickens have the unique opportunity to enjoy excerpts from the Victorian Christmas masterpiece, ‘A Christmas Carol’, read by Dickens’ great-great-great-granddaughter, Lucinda Hawksley. An award-winning writer, Lucinda is reading her favourite sections from the novel in the glorious surroundings of Osterley’s imposing Entrance Hall.
The stunning interiors of Osterley Park are still presented as they may have looked when the wealthy 7th Earl of Jersey and his family were in residence at Christmas in the early 19th-century, with show rooms festooned with fresh foliage, sweetly-scented Christmas trees and glittering decorations.
The novel met with instant success and critical acclaim when it was published in 1843. It was written at a time in Victorian Britain when new Christmas customs such as the decoration of trees and the sending of Christmas cards were becoming very popular.
The Entrance Hall at Osterley House welcomes visitors with fruit displays and sweets such as marzipan, sugared almonds and pastries, while the Eating Room is laid ready for a meal, and in the Long Gallery preparations are underway for an evening of music. Visitors can ‘meet’ members of the Jersey family, and find out how servants at Osterley Park prepared elaborate parties for the festive season.
- © Philip V Allingham
- © NTPL
In the historic kitchens, younger visitors can indulge in a spot of spicy Christmas pudding-stirring and make that all-important wish. The house’s pretty Christmas grotto offers a Santa postal service, and children can opt to send letters via an attendant elf, or hang their wishes on a special Wish Tree.
Outside in the stableyard, carol singers will be inviting everyone to join them for some rousing renditions of traditional favourites. A Christmas fair featuring crafts made by local artisans and craftsmen is the perfect place to shop for unusual and unique gifts, while there are plenty of opportunities for children to make their own Christmas decorations at Osterley’s free craft activity afternoons.
On the first three weekends in December the Osterley tea rooms are open for hot lunches and snacks, or pre-book a delicious Christmas lunch, available from Wednesday to Friday, 1-17 December. The menu includes twice-baked salmon and dill soufflé, beef and stilton pie, and a scrumptious sticky toffee pudding.
Osterley Park, Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 4RB
Telephone: 020 8232 5050; or visit nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-osterleypark.
Dates, times and prices
A Christmas Carol: 11 December, excerpts read throughout the day, normal admission charge (see below)
Gift Aid admission (Standard admission prices in brackets): House and garden: adult £8.80 (£8), child £4.40 (£4), family £22 (£20). Garden only: adult £3.85 (£3.50), child £1.95 (£1.75). Car park (Standard Admission): adult £3.50. Park: free.
Christmas at Osterley Park: 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 Dec, 12–3.30pm, normal admission charge.
Christmas craft fair: dates and times as above. Car park charge only.
Carol singing: 5, 12, 19 Dec, 2pm and 3pm. Car park charge only.
Children’s craft afternoons: 5, 12, 19 Dec, 12.30 – 3.30pm. Car park charge only.
Christmas lunches: 1-17 Dec, Wed to Fri, from 12pm, £25.95. Booking essential, at least one week in advance, on 020 8232 5057.