Decorating “The Palace in the Woods”, Hampton Mansion

Decorating Hampton mansion for Christmas
Decorating Hampton mansion for Christmas

Every year, I help with the decorating of “The Palace in the Woods”, Hampton Mansion National Historic site, for their Yuletide celebration.  Back in the eighteenth century, Hampton was a large estate built in the Georgian architectural style, situated on many acres including a farm, greenhouses, slave quarters, an orangery, large Italianate gardens, horse stables, cemetery, and an English style park-like setting. Built as a country seat just after the Revolutionary War by the prominent Ridgely family, the house and its immediate surroundings are just a remnant of the Hampton estate of the early 1800s.

English: Hampton mansion, Maryland, USA from t...
English: Hampton mansion, Maryland, USA from the southwest. Hampton National Historic Site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Decorating the Mansion along with the Park service is a lot of fun, and gives me ideas on decorating my house with fresh greens, garland, natural materials, and fresh flowers and fruit – all materials that were used back “in the day”, Williamsburg  or Colonial style.

Christmas tree at Hampton
Christmas tree at Hampton

Located in the music room, the Christmas tree exudes Victorian elegance with the hand-made ornaments reflecting the ornate Victorian era. The screens in the background are hand painted with colorful scenes and the furnishings reflect the lavish decorating in vogue at that time for the wealthy.

Peacock hand painted screen
Peacock hand painted screen
Festive settings for a dinner party at Hampton
Festive settings for a dinner party at Hampton

Place settings are in the cranberry colors befitting the Yuletide season, and sideboards and tables are laid with the house silver and groaning with food ( good quality fakes), but set up for a typical Christmas dinner of the period.

Portrait of Eliza Ridgely
Portrait of Eliza Ridgely

The Federated Maryland Garden Clubs take charge of the festive greenery decorations, as well as the fresh floral arrangements, all with the time period in mind when choosing materials. There are dilapidated greenhouses on site, slated to be restored, which the Ridgelys used for out of season food and flowers.

Landing arrangement with peach roses
Landing arrangement with peach roses
Old greenhouses at Hampton
Old greenhouses at Hampton

We meet in the old Orangery to work our magic on beautifying the mansion.  Armed with fresh-cut greens, we bring cut flowers, pods, cones, fruit,  and pomanders. The Park Service also will cut some special greens from the landscape, like ivy berries, which are beautiful and cut boxwood.

Mature Ivy
Mature Ivy
Pomanders in arrangement
Pomanders in arrangement
Making Christmas arrangements for Hampton
Making Christmas arrangements for Hampton
Simple holly arrangement
Simple holly arrangement
Hampton arrangement
Hampton arrangement
Decorated table at Hampton
Decorated table at Hampton

At night the mansion is full of musicians, carolers, and docents who will answer questions about daily life of the Ridgelys, as well as the many slaves who lived on the grounds.

Doll's tea party set up in the nursery
Doll’s tea party set up in the nursery

If you are in the Towson area this weekend, be sure to stop in Friday, December 13, from 6 to 8:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, from 1 to 4PM.

4 Replies to “Decorating “The Palace in the Woods”, Hampton Mansion”

  1. Hi, Claire. Thank you so much for the beautiful pix of the Mansion.  Norm and I will be there Friday to see it in all its glory.  Great job with both the decorating and the blog. Rosemary  Bronzert 

  2. FYI   Dad and I will be going Friday evening.  This a wonderful event every year.  Claire is Uncle Bob’s daughter-in-law and, s you can see, writes an informative and beautifully illustrated blog on gardening.  It’s a very festive occasion if ou have time to see it.  Also, FREE. Love, Mom

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