'Angels on High' at Castle Howard this Christmas
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:46 09 January 2018
Theatre experts set the scene for Christmas at one of Yorkshire's historic homes
Images of angels found in historic artworks provide heavenly inspiration for this year’s festive spectacular at one of Yorkshire’s finest stately homes. ‘Angels on High’ will watch over visitors to Castle Howard’s elaborate Christmas decorations and setting the scene at the North Yorkshire house are creative producer and co-director of Oxford Shakespeare Company and Lamplighter Drama, Charlotte Lloyd Webber together with award-winning Canadian theatre designer, Bretta Gerecke.
They have joined the Howard family and site team to transform the house into a remarkable Christmas experience that feels like a theatre performance – but without live performers. ‘As a theatre practitioner, the idea of a house that’s built on theatre, as this was, by playwright and dramatist, Vanbrugh, is totally fascinating. It’s a bit like theatre made stone,’ explains Charlotte. She has taken inspiration from paintings, architecture and stained glass on display at Castle Howard to create an angelic festive theme that reflects its surroundings. She and Bretta are treating the 26 discrete spaces they are decorating as theatrical sets – mini or maxi operas depending on the size of the room.
‘We want visitors to walk through the spaces and feel that they are familiar and beautiful and respectful of the house, but also a bit magical, infused with our own new offerings for Christmas. We want them to leave feeling an uplifting sense of thrill, even more engaged with this beautiful, beautiful house, and seeing it anew,’ explains Bretta.
Each of the rooms will have its own angelic detailing, some with subtle references to angels, and others filled with a host of seraphs – including a stunning centrepiece in the Long Gallery. Inspired by the intricate designs of 18th century Baroque and created using the contemporary art of laser cutting, Gallery of Angels will have a host of golden heavenly angels flying the 45 metre length of the impressive space.
‘Castle Howard has a long reputation for having the most elaborate and extensive Christmas decorations in Yorkshire, and dressing a property of this size is a huge undertaking,’ says Nicolas Howard. ‘So we are delighted to have Charlotte and Bretta leading the team this year. Their understanding of the architectural drama within the house has enabled them to develop this unique theme that will connect every room in such a beautiful way.’
The elaborate Christmas decorations are part of a packed programme of seasonal activity at Castle Howard, the planning for which started 12 months ago.
• Christmas afternoon tea, served by a roaring fire in the Grecian Hall, with savoury treats created by head chef David Haynes, and stunning scones and patisserie created by head pastry chef Vanessa Wade.
• Indoor Christmas market in the Courtyard in the recently renovated Old Stables to operate alongside the farm shop, Courtyard Café, Carriage House gift shop and garden centre. Accessible daily from 21 October, free of charge.
• Father Christmas experiences, including the Enchanted Evening with Father Christmas, which includes a fireside tea party and a candlelit trail into the house before meeting the great man himself in the Great Hall (limited spaces available).
• The return of the gingerbread Castle Howard, created in 2016 by Bompas & Parr. This elaborate illuminated biscuit model of the house and grounds is displayed complete with a working gingerbread train in the darkened setting of the Cabinet Room.
• Father Christmas’s Magical Garden, a new family-friendly sequence of rooms, with cabins for Castle Howard’s younger visitors to explore.
For more details call 01653 348333 or go to castlehoward.co.uk