A golden gateway to a Victorian Christmas framed the Tredegar House, located in Newport. The walls surrounding the 17th century mansion concealed Christmas trees, decorations, presents and an odious gentleman. “Bah,” said the angry gentleman, wearing a white nightgown and cap.
Scrooge sat in Tredegar House counting gold, and bringing a distinct chill to the room. The embers in the fire did not warm Scrooge’s welcome. He stared, in disgust, at his guests and did his best to make them feel unwelcome.
“I hate Christmas! There’s no point in all that nonsense,” sneered Scrooge at the suspicious children passing by.
A young boy stamped his foot on the oak floor. “I like Christmas. I’m getting a new bike,” declared the fair-haired boy. He looked up at his father for reassurance.
Scrooge placed his arms lovingly around his piles of gold. ‘Humbug!’ he repeated constantly in his ‘grating voice’.
I heard the guests’ ‘laughter and good humour’, and this melted the frosty reception of Scrooge. I heard parents retelling A Christmas Carol and explaining the character of Scrooge. It was wonderful to observe literature brought to life through this interactive approach.
A child, called Beth, joined in the fun and declared, “Bah, humbug” to all the members of staff positioned in each room. A toddler playing with a wooden train set, in the nursery, was reluctant to return it. The cook invited everyone to stir the Christmas pudding, as she explained the glorious Christmas feast the family would have enjoyed. The quantities of food consumed in the grand house did make me wonder how that would have contrasted with the average Victorian Christmas. But the thought didn’t linger too long, because I was distracted by the sight dark-haired fellow, pacing up and down the court yard. Later, I saw the gentleman at the writing desk. I peered in his notebook and it said, ‘Scrooge to honour Christmas’.
Many thanks to the National Trust, staff and volunteers for organising the festive experience. Archways, gates, gardens and rooms were decked with Christmas cheer. Not even Scrooge could freeze the glorious atmosphere at Tredegar House.
Following the visit, I decided it was time to decorate my own home. I confess I watched Miracle on 34th Street, as I decorated each Christmas tree. I heard Valentine Davies say:
“Well, this is the Imagination. And once you get there you can do almost anything you want.”
I do hope the children visiting Scrooge found their imagination in that cold room, and will tell the story of their experience.