Less than 15 shopping days to Christmas and finally some crisp and even weather to get us in the festive spirit. The frost gives dog Walpole extra bounce and I am off to solve my Christmas shopping dilemmas with original gifts and Christmas fripperies from country house shops.
Blenheim Palace’s East Courtyard shop is twinkling with lights and original gifts, try household gifts from the Below Stairs range, get books from the Palace Bookshop, gardening gifts from the Pleasure Gardens Shop or perfect stocking fillers from the Children’s Shop. The range of shops in Hatfield House’s Stable Yard are a treat, particularly Tudor inspired jewellery and the Hatfield range inspired by portraits of Elizabeth I in the house.
Chatsworth’s shops are rightly famous and a great way to be sure that your gifts are original. Emulate Chatsworth’s grand interiors with home décor items, choose toys from the Farmyard shop or Chatsworth’s renowned produce from the Pantry shop. Christmas at Holkham Hall in Norfolk is always scintillating and you can shop here too. How irresistible would a Holkham teddy be sticking out of the top of stocking on Christmas morning!
Country house shops are the ideal places to find original local crafts. Cheeseboards and table mats made of local Lakeland Burlington Slate available from Holker Hall gift shop in Cumbria this Christmas are right on trend. The Weald & Downland Museum in West Sussex is backing up the craftsmen who operate on site throughout the year with handcrafted gifts including delicious baked goods using flour from their restored 17th century water mill. Still in Sussex, check out the lovely handcrafted journals and diaries at the Cloisters Shop in Chichester Cathedral. More art than craft are items in the shop at Hylands House in Essex, where resident artists have original glass platters and rock star portraits from around £100. Make your own chocolate gifts at Stansted Park in Hampshire’s Salon de Chocolate workshops on 14th December and don’t miss a magical array of Christmas decorations sparkling in the Bauble Barn at Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire where interiors, outdoor clothing, toy and delicatessen outlets should make your Christmas shopping effortless.
In Scotland, Abbotsford in the Borders has tweed and tartan gifts and porcelain inspired by Sir Walter Scott as well as gorgeous Pringle knitwear and a Christmas Farmer’s Market on 14th December. Stirling Castle gift shop has a great array of Scottish gifts including maps and guides to tracing your genealogy.
If you are really stuck, try online. I’m ordering The Mistresses’ Breakfast from Dalemain online shop (£15.99), the perfect gift from the home of the World’s Original Marmalade Festival. National Trust shops have always been terrific for gift shopping on site and online. My favourite in their range this year is Save the Red Squirrel (£10 – available online) which directs your money to protecting native squirrels on National Trust land and lets your recipient know they have supported a good cause with a suitably cute card.
From English Heritage’s online shop, my seasonal favourite is a Stonehenge snowglobe (£11.95), available online and a great way to mark this momentous year when Stonehenge has finally become a truly inspiring place to visit.
So join me and select original gifts and have fun doing it at country house gift shops all over the country and celebrate British heritage this Christmas!