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Mulled wine, crackers and audience participation; Lindsay Lloyd's country house party was the perfect lead-up to our Christmas celebrations. We villagers and estate workers were welcomed to the Big House – the sumptuous surroundings of Hylands doubling for Downton - by Lord and Lady Grandish themselves, all bonhomie and condescension, and they kindly allowed their servants to entertain and inform us about life up and downstairs. But did I observe a certain resemblance between the nobility and their underlings? no doubt a legacy from some past dalliances. Everyone from the toffs to the lowliest tweeny gave excellent, enjoyable performances – and the musical duo (Bells and Baxter) was enchanting. A mass cracker-pull and a chaotic but great fun rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas enhanced the warm Christmassy feeling amongst us in the second half. In addition to the insights into the life at the hall we were treated to excerpts from literature both familiar and unfamiliar; Laurie Lee, Dickens and Dylan Thomas amongst others. And, of course, the traditional Christmas ghost story, and a manic melodrama to round it all off.
Barbara Gray December 2016