From the famous Bath Christmas market to snow-covered Cotswolds pubs, England offers some of the most wonderfully festive experiences. In our totally unbiased opinion, there’s really nothing quite like England at Christmas.
Each year when December comes around, England lights up – speaking both literally and metaphorically. Whether falling snow turns the country into a winter wonderland or whether it’s just a crisp, cold chill in the air, there’s a truly palpable feeling of Christmas magic that spreads through our cities and towns.
Once upon a time, Christmas looked rather different to how it does now, but if you look closely at the past, you’ll spot many traditions that resemble those of today.
Just one of England’s many historic houses and only a short drive from Bath, Dyrham Park
is a 17th Century country house set within a deer park. Visiting Dyrham at any time of year is quite an enchanting experience, but at Christmas time it offers a rare glimpse into Christmas celebrations of the past.
If you pay Dyrham Park a visit this Christmas time, you’ll be immersed in the festivities of the 17th Century, with festive greenery decking the halls, carols sung by local choirs in the neighbouring St Peter’s Church and pop-up performances on various days throughout December. You’ll get the chance to learn about the history of the house and the Christmases that its inhabitants once enjoyed. Surrounded by the grandeur, it’s not difficult to imagine the Blathwayt family, who made the house the place you see today, delighting in Christmases all those years ago.
Despite the merriment enjoyed by Dyrham Park’s 17th Century dwellers, Christmas actually wasn’t largely celebrated in England until the end of the 19th Century. We predominantly have Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, to thank for bringing about many of our modern Christmas traditions. Prince Albert, who was from Germany, brought the concept of the Christmas tree over to England. In 1848, an illustration of the Royal Family around their decorated tree was published by Illustrated London News and soon enough it became a country-wide tradition.
It was also during the Victorian era that the singing of carols was popularised. Christmas carols did exist before this time but the tradition was revived by the Victorians, who put the words of old carols to new music and revelled in this musical form of entertainment.
Of course, we now see lavishly decorated Christmas trees in the windows of most homes in England, as well as at the centre of many villages, towns and cities; Carols are sung nationwide and many other traditions of the past live on, all helping to shape what Christmas means to us today.