Once again the House is decorated for the Christmas event, with the aromas of mince pies and mulled wine and the appearance of staff and volunteers in an eclectic array of costume and coiffure. The Tredegar House Christmas is very popular in Newport and the surrounding area. Indeed, for many locals Christmas commences with their visit to the House. The popularity of Tredegar as a venue for Christmas carousing throughout the month of December and beyond is not a new thing though.
Take a look at the National Library of Wales Blog here http://www.llgc.org.uk/blog/?p=323 and you will see that from its very beginnings, this Restoration Period home was renowned for its Yuletide hospitality. Later Sir Charles Morgan would become known as one of the great Christmas hosts of the Nineteenth Century. Some accounts of the races, masquerade parties, banquets, servants’ balls, hunts and cattle shows are included in “A Monmouthshire Christmas” compiled by Maria and Andrew Hubert. When General Thomas Molyneux visited in 1808 he was impressed by the numbers – eighty guests and just as many servants (who were entertained in the Servants Hall) and over a hundred horses easily accommodated in the Tredegar stables. The General was an annual visitor to Tredegar House over the next eight years and seems to have eagerly anticipated the masquerades in particular. The event was so big that it provided a boost to the tradesmen of Newport and those further afield in Bristol too.
“About a dozen firms were dependent on the patronage of the house in Bristol alone, an a further six or seven in Newport. The grocery bill in the early 1830s seems to have been twice as much as the wages bill for the whole household. The seasonal house party in 1838 accounted for the slaughter of 5 bullocks, 29 sheep, 10 pigs, 1 lamb and 2 calves.
……. Candles were a huge expense, especially to keep Christmas bright during the six-week season; in 1818 the December / January bill was for 1,153 candles”.
Christmas is still a good excuse for dressing up at Tredegar House and this year the theme is Sleeping Beauty. Mixed in with the fairy-tale characters are Staff, Volunteers, Friends and visitors in Georgian and Victorian costume. And, of course, Mr Scrooge. One year, when Newport’s ‘finest council house’ dropped the Scrooge character, there were complaints from Councillors and so he was reinstated the following Christmas. If you come to the House tonight make sure you wish him “A very Merry Christmas!”