Each year in late December, the Van Wickle/McKee family would return to Blithewold to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. The household staff would arrive days before the family to ready the house for all the holiday celebrations. The head gardener and caretaker would gather evergreen boughs from the property and cut down a tall tree from the grounds. The housekeeper and maids would decorate the entrance and the mantles in each room, ensuring that visitors would be welcomed into a warm house filled with the fragrance of Christmas.
Today’s Blithewold finds our volunteer decorators echoing the spirit of the past by transforming the house for our visitors. Our volunteers their time and talent to transform Blithewold each Christmas according to a theme that explores the interests of the Van Wickle/McKee family during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This Year’s Theme: “All About Augustine!”
This season we’ll be shining a light on the fascinating life of Augustine Van Wickle Shaw Toland. She was the youngest daughter of Bessie and Augustus Van Wickle. Recently acquired photos, letters, and other personal items have echoed what we knew, as well as shown us more about the interesting and adventurous life of Augustine. She was happiest outdoors, gardening, horseback riding, camping, swimming, and skiing. She was also the most interesting (and beautiful) girl at every party! Look closely as you tour the house; you’ll find framed photographs of Augustine in every room. And, don’t miss a very special exhibit on the second floor – a selection of Augustine’s beautiful dresses.
Everywhere you look, you’ll be filled with the joy of the holiday season past and present.
Come join us this Christmas at Blithewold.
Visit our program and events page to join us for some seasonal fun.
Learn about our opening hours here.