Only 2 more days to go before Christmas and with a brief lull in the awful weather we have had the past couple of days, Mr PP and I took ourselves off to Petworth House to see their festive decorations. Last year they turned part of the ground floor of the house into a Middle Eastern extravaganza telling an imaginary story of Balthazar (one of the 3 wise men) and his palace. This year, things were more light-hearted and saw the kitchens being transformed into a Christmas preparation pageant. Please excuse the grainy photos, but the lighting levels were very low (no flash allowed) and what little light there was available was often blue!
The main kitchen centre piece was a scale model of Petworth House made from Gingerbread! The smell was absolutely delicious. Also present were a giant turtle swimming in its own soup while on a dresser sat a peacock, stuffed and ready for the table, together with smaller pies containing (probably) four and twenty blackbirds and at the far end of the kitchen a maid servant turns the suckling pig on the spit.
The Lady of the House inspects the Gingerbread House
A maid servant turns the spit
Stuffed and dressed peacock
In the scullery there seems to have been a disaster with the dishwasher and the floor has flooded, soapsuds everywhere together with piles of dishes. Looks like someone’s work won’t be finished before the clock strikes 12!
“Cinderella” in the scullery
A little further along the corridor, past the Chef’s Parlour (where incidentally he is snoring loudly after a little too much cooking wine); the Fish Larder is full to over flowing…
giant fantasy fish swim in (float over) a pool of shimmering water
Back out into the long dark corridor lit solely by a single light shrouded by a paper lantern that casts it eerie glow and moon-like reflection on the dead leaves lining the floor, we found ourselves in the Meat Larder, which had been dressed out as a dark woodland clearing, where a Huntsman has stopped to eat his lunch on a litter of leaves and mushrooms.
Lunch in the woods
Back into the corridor again and we find ourselves in the Winter Dairy where a cheeky maid has climbed a ladder to sample the giant Christmas Cake which has been left to chill in the snow.
Finally, it is onwards into the Dining Room where a party is in full swing. The guests dressed in their most extravagant outfits, the room adorned with gilded cages containing owls, while the table is heavily laden with the delights from the kitchen, the whole creating a magical scene of opulence and excess.
A Fabulous, Fantastic, Fantasy Feast!
I almost didn’t go to see this as the write-up on the National Trust website gave me the impression it was more for the kiddies. Definitely NOT! (There was a supplementary children’s trail of mice in tableau in each room). I am so glad I went as this was a really unusual and festive offering with atmosphere in spades telling a sort of jumble of seasonal fairy tales with great attention to detail.