Muddy’s Christmas Wreath Making at Chatsworth
Combining feel-good festive creativity with a trip to one of her favourite childhood stomping grounds, Muddy Warwickshire’s Rhiannon Pursall heads north for a wreath making workshop at Chatsworth.
The Chatsworth estate stands proudly in the rolling hills of Derbyshire, near the market town of Bakewell. Car parking is included with your wreath making ticket, or you can catch a bus from various surrounding town and cities including Bakewell, Buxton, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
It’s a breathtaking place, especially on the day we visit; muted, misty winter colours with gentle sun rays and sparkling frost. We drive through the expansive estate, past resident deer and sheep grazing in groups, their breath forming clouds of steam in the crisp air. Chatsworth House glints majestically as we approach, owing in part to the Devonshire family’s recent re-gilding of the windows with gold.
The estate provides a full day out on its own, regardless of the fantastic events diary that seems to expand every year. The house and private 105-acre gardens are open to the public from mid-March to December, with private tours offered; and out of season, during January, February and the first half of March, the car park, shops, restaurant and 1000-acre estate park remain open to explore.
There are three different time slots for the wreath making class – 9.30am, 12pm and 2.30pm – and tickets include entry to the house and gardens too. We’re booked into the midday class, so we decide to tour round the house beforehand.
This year’s theme is In a Land Far, Far Away, so we pass through rooms decorated with traditions and backdrops reflecting how different regions of the world will look this Yuletide. Previous themes have included Wind in the Willows, Fairytales and – my personal favourite – Dickens at Christmas.
After our stroll through the grand rooms and corridors, there’s just time to collect the hot drink included in our ticket before heading to class.
The workshop takes place in an intriguing private theatre not usually open to visitors, tucked away in a wing of the house. We climb the stairs to the characterful venue (a stair climber is available for those with restricted mobility) and are welcomed by members of Chatsworth’s friendly garden and florist teams…plus a plate of mince pies!
Tables are set so each person has their own scissors, wire and – thankfully – ready-mossed wreath ring (we once attended a class elsewhere where we had to moss our own rings and I wasn’t a fan…I’d far rather someone else did the wet, muddy and slightly painful bit!). Our table of four also has a huge pile of spruce (which smells divine) and a trug bearing a glorious selection of traditional embellishments: cones, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.
There’s also a tub of holly and assorted ribbon at the front of the class that we can help ourselves to.
We enjoy our drinks while watching a demo from one of the experienced team and then it’s time to get to work.
The class contains around 20 people, so it feels intimate and relaxed and there are plenty of staff who keep checking that we’re doing OK.
It doesn’t take us too long to bind our foliage onto the rings, then we’re onto the best bit – adorning and personalising.
I go for a slightly Scandi vibe, sticking to wooden embellishments and a jute ribbon. I’ve also brought my own little stars, which I spotted in a craft shop a few days previous.
My mum goes for a sumptuously seasonal style, with red holly berries and a tartan ribbon that makes her design pop.
It’s funny how diverse the wreaths can be in shape and size, even though they all begin with the same rings; Mum’s is neat and compact, whereas mine is – er – a bit loose and wild.
We finish up around 1.15pm and pop our masterpieces in a dedicated space outside the room, ready to collect later. Then we head for a well-earned lunch in the Carriage House Café, with its grand high ceilings festooned in bauble-strewn garlands.
The Muddy Verdict:
It’s been a brilliant day and I’m left with that inner Christmassy glow, a sense of accomplishment and a personalised decoration for my door. We first came to this class in 2018 too and by May 2019 I’d already booked for this year; rest assured I’ll be keeping my eyes open for Christmas 2020 bookings next Spring!
£55 per person. Chatsworth’s Christmas wreath making workshops are usually held across one weekend and quickly sell out. A hot drink and mince pie, as well as admission to the house and garden on the day are included.