30th November 2022
We visited the National Trust’s Chastleton House to see it decorated for Christmas. We try and visit a National Trust house at this time of year to see the Christmas decorations. We bypass houses such as Waddesdon Manor, as a protest, because they charge NT members who visit at Christmas time.
Chastleton House is a large house clothed in dilapidated splendour. The previous owners fell on hard times, with the resultant leaking roofs, no heating and poor decoration. The NT has preserved this look throughout the house. The house was decorated for a 1960s Christmas. You can see vinyl records, the old tube monochrome TV, the old 60s GPO phones and valve radios. The homemade crackers were brilliantly made by the volunteers from crêpe paper and toilet rolls. Do you remember making paper chains by sticking together coloured pieces of paper? The volunteers must have spent a while making all those on display! Great use was made of games and various glasses and cocktail paraphernalia. Champagne coups were a feature and some wonderful 60s food. There were also exhibits from before the 1960s. At Christmas in 1938, the children’s parcels were parachuted in by an uncle who was an RAF pilot. The parcels were scattered across the front lawn, stuck in trees and attached to the house. R spied a thriller written by one of the last private owners. Yes, she ordered a copy, but sadly could not find one with the same attractive jacket.
There was limited access to the gardens, but nice for a quick wander.
After our visit we looked for somewhere to eat (yes, shockingly there is no NT tea-room!), and ended up in the roadside Cotswold Cafe next to a garage. Excellent; it was very clean and served very good basic grub. I had a baked potato with baked beans, cheese and salad while R had a tuna mayonnaise filled roll with salad. The cafe was decorated with old motoring memorabilia, see the model campervan photo.
After our lunch we headed to the nearby limestone Rollright Stones, where you park in a layby in Oxfordshire. There is a nominal fee of a quid each to visit, which we put in the honesty box. There are three monuments – The Kings Men, a late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age stone circle, with nearby an Early or Middle Neolithic dolmen, named the Whispering Knights, while across the road (and in another county, Warwickshire) lies the King Stone, thought to be a single monolith Bronze Age grave marker.
Well worth a visit, though everything would have looked better on a bright sunny spring or frosty winter day, rather than the heavy overcast sky we were greeted with.