Festive season takes wing
Caroline Bingham visited Doddington Hall & Gardens on the eve of the second lockdown of 2020. Their popular Farm Shop Chat + Collect service was ready to come back and preparations for a Christmas ‘Secret Gardens’ spectacular were underway.
The Farm Shop Chat + Collect service was a boon during the spring, serving the local community during lockdown so the service was re-opened on Monday 9th November, letting customers order their shopping essentials over the phone and then collect their orders without having to leave their car. The phone line, 01522 688581, is open 9.30am-3.30pm daily with collection slots available to book Monday-Friday.
Claire Birch, owner of Doddington Hall & Gardens, said: “We know how much Chat + Collect served as a vital link for our customers during the first lockdown, especially the most vulnerable in our community. So in these uncertain times, the team is ready to serve once again, to take your orders, to chat to you about our range and help you to get all the essentials you need.”
The Farm Shop is remaining open to the public 9am-5pm daily (Sundays 10am-4pm) during lockdown as essential retail, providing a safe and socially-distanced service and promoting ‘Hands. Face. Space’ at all times.
I was making what has now become an annual date in my diary to preview their themed decoration of the Hall for Christmas, plans for which began in January, as soon as the 2019 festive season was over.
Opening on 2nd December, subject to restrictions, Doddington Hall & Gardens is bringing a little bit of magic to families in Lincolnshire this Christmas with a spectacular ‘Secret Gardens’ Covid-secure experience with plenty of seasonal fun.
The magnificent manor house will be transformed into a series of Secret Gardens, inspired by Doddington Hall’s spectacular walled and wild gardens. Bringing the outside indoors, each floor of the hall will feature rooms filled to the brim with incredible handmade decorations made by the talented team at Doddington Hall as a festive celebration of nature.
I met Claire Birch in the Drawing Room where she has designed a magnificent butterfly garden, filled with hundreds of handmade, origami butterflies and flowers. Most were made during Lockdown One by volunteers using recyclable wallpaper, magazines and newspapers. I was about to add a Lincolnshire Life version made from the cover of a back copy of the magazine.
Claire very patiently talked me through the folds and technique for stabilising the finished insect and securing it to the long floristry wire, which was being used to suspend them onto the display’s frame. The soaring funnel of butterflies will rise from a shrubbery of paper blooms, cross the Drawing Room and decorate a Christmas tree as they land on the opposite side. Even from these early stages it promises to be a spectacular sight. (We have included the folding instructions in the side panel if you would like to make your own festive butterflies.)
I also had chance to look at some of the other themes this year’s designers have created. The Great Hall will be adorned with natural materials from Doddington’s gardens by Rachel Petheram of Catkin Flowers to create a forgotten Secret Garden. The Brown Parlour will be a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired garden, featuring a magical chocolate river and decorated with giant sweets – all created by local set designer and builder, James Richards, of Sets Role.
One of my personal favourites was in the Tent Room; a magical water garden filled with glowing goldfish handcrafted by Michelle Kelsey, who is also building a Mr McGregor inspired vegetable garden. At the top of the Hall in The Long Gallery will be a breathtaking moonlit garden by Howell Thomas and students from Lincoln College. Visitors will also be able to spot some wonderful wildlife including the cock robin Claire and Michelle are holding in our photograph.
Every effort has been made to source materials and produce from the estate grounds and decorations from the Secret Gardens will be recycled where possible to ensure that Christmas at Doddington is as sustainable as possible.
“2020 has been quite the year for many of us,” said Claire, “so it’s important that as the festive season approaches, we all find comfort in a bit of Christmas sparkle.
“Christmas is looking a bit uncertain for many of us, but what we can be certain of is that Doddington Hall is going to open its doors wide to welcome families from across the area so they can enjoy a truly magical experience safely. Christmas at Doddington has been a wonderful tradition for families over the last 50 years, so we want to play our part in helping people to create special memories.”
Visitors will explore Doddington Hall’s magical Secret Gardens using a one-way system. Face coverings must be worn at all times, social distancing must be adhered to and hand sanitiser will be available throughout.
How to fold an origami butterfly
Cut out a square from coloured card or paper – the bigger the piece, the easier the folds are to make. 4″ x 4″ is a good size for a small butterfly, 6″ x 6″ for medium and 10″ x 10″ for large. Don’t go any smaller than 3″ x 3″ or it will not fold.
Turn the square over and fold along one of the diagonals then unfold. Fold along the other diagonal then unfold.
Fold the square in half horizontally then unfold. Fold the square in half vertically then unfold.
Holding two opposite sides, push the centres together until they meet in the middle of the square. Flatten the sides above and below so you’re left with a flat triangle with several layers.
Take the bottom corners of the top layer triangle and fold them to meet at the top corner.
Turn the card over and fold the top of the triangle backwards over the bottom edge, so the tip sticks out a little bit. Make sure you don’t flatten the raised edges – these will form part of the butterfly’s wings and look more realistic.
Tuck the tip that sticks out over the side and turn the paper over. Fold in half and you have your butterfly.
Elsewhere on the Estate
Enjoy a festive treat in the Doddington Tea Room, which is serving a range of speciality Christmas themed afternoon teas. Booking is essential and can be made online. Christmas lunch is also being served in the cafe, which will feature traditional dishes, Including Doddington herd Lincoln Red beef, as well as a vegan wellington and indulgent desserts.
The Coffee Shop, situated in the Giant Bike Store, offers table service with a choice of indoor or outdoor seating.
The Bauble Barn will be open daily 9am-5pm and 10am-4pm on Sunday, while the Christmas Tree Yard will open from 21st November.
A new Chat + Collect service will also be in place for Doddington at Home, Farrow & Ball and Country Clothing. Cosy home furnishings and accessories, books for all ages, candles, bath and body products, ladieswear and menswear clothing, accessories, footwear and much more is available. Safely order gifts and tick off Christmas lists over the phone by calling 01522 812512 between 9.30am-3.30pm daily.
(Once lockdown lifts but all subject to Government restrictions, please visit doddingtonhall.com)