A classic Christmas at Narborough Hall

Well, bonfire night is over, my Christmas competition has been announced and so we’re hurtling towards Christmas. In the week where I’ve seen very little except Leicester MP Keith Vaz campaigning to prevent a soft drink truck coming to Leicester on its festive foray* and a major department store apparently threatening to unleash another Christmas advertisement on us today which we will no doubt all be forced to endure several thousand times before the big day comes, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a bit of a scrooge when it comes to Christmas.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As a committed atheist, I adore having a midwinter celebration to bring a bit of sparkle to the dark nights. I love the chance to spend time catching up with friends and family and all of the little trimmings that make Christmas what it is for me. This includes endless festive films, even the terrible Hallmark ones, which eventually drive The Boy to the brink of distraction, and I love decorating my house. Putting up the tree is usually an all day affair in my house as I have collected so many decorations over the year. I tend to put in a different colour scheme each year depending on how I feel on the day.

Period features abound

Scarily I have enough decorations to actually do a base colour scheme on spec, but I do like to treat myself to a few additional decorations to add to it each year. I was delighted to be invited to the Narborough Hall Christmas preview a few weeks ago and it got me all excited about the season of excessive glitter and pretty lights being on us once again.

If you haven’t been to Narborough Hall before, it’s a beautiful 400 year old Elizabethan house which was rescued from dereliction in the 1970s and has now been converted sympathetically into a unique lifestyle and interiors shop. 

They stock a wide range of products that you won’t really see anywhere else, from the cute and kitsch to the stylish and high end including masses of suitable man-presents (always the hardest thing to find) and a beautiful card gallery which is crowned with a period stained glass window.

In time for us all decorating our houses beautifully in a few weeks time, the staff at Narborough Hall have carefully crafted a stunning Christmas shop to showcase the best of what they have to offer this year. It’s a magical space – you walk through an ‘ice palace’ corridor, into a veritable grotto of delights. The shop is arranged by theme, making it easy to find which section you need to suit your own style, although I would highly recommend taking the time to have a good old browse all over because there are little gems everywhere!

I really liked that they had something to suit every pocket, there are small decorations for just a pound or two each, right up to more elaborate displays of full trees, lanterns and hand-beaten copper bowls which cost a bit more. Incidentally, the staff were really helpful in showing me what was on offer this year and I noted that a big trend for Xmas 2015 will actually be copper. 

I particularly liked the copper snowflake decorations, which felt lovely in the hand because of the weight and coolness of the metal and of course the colour is beautiful. They are a good size, I’d guess about 20cm or so across and are only £4.99. The carefully orchestrated displays at the shop showed perfectly how the copper accents could be woven in to a gorgeous overall display, in fact I asked them if I could just move in there for the next couple of months but they didn’t seem too keen!

One of the other areas I also liked was the sort of more handmade feeling decorations, in particular all of the little felt woodland animals that were available. Hung on a tree just made from bare branches I thought this was an unusual but really lovely concept for your decorating. 

When I left the preview, Narbrough Hall gave me a wonderful goodie bag which contained the most wonderful busy life diary, which will not leave my side in 2016, amongst other delightful presents. However, I was probably most excited about the ‘sew your own badger’ kit, who I have dutifully sewn and will be gracing my Christmas tree this year, and every year, as part of my felt animal assemblage.

So go and take a look for yourself. It’s a great place to pick up little accent accessories, Christmas gifts and even homewares and the building itself is just beautiful, absolutely not to be missed. If you’re going to go commercial at Christmas, why not make it local and independent?

If you happen to be looking for something special for the wine blogger in your life, you could probably do worse than picking up one of these super awesome
Vineyard Candles too! 

Just sayin’…

* To be honest I totally agree with this, it just shows the invidious nature of the impact of giant corporation’s marketing on our society. I do feel a bit sad for the commentator who wrote “He is being a killjoy. The truck itself represents Christmas for me.” I’d hate to go to Christmas dinner at their house.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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