Christmas with the National Trust 2

Six more Christmas National Trust ideas for places to go, things to see. These are slightly further afield but make a great day out.

by Katy Dunn

The National Trust historic houses are decorated in the style of Christmases gone by.  Stroll through frosty winter gardens, discover festive crafts to try at home, and tuck into delicious seasonal treats.

Don’t forget about the special Percy the Park Keeper winter trails at 122 National Trust places. Nick Butterworth’s most beloved characters will help your little ones enjoy the great outdoors!

Each of your festive days out will support the National Trust’s work as a charity looking after special places for future generations to enjoy.

1. Hughenden (near High Wycombe)

Hughenden is celebrating the nature, beauty, and history of their gardens this Christmas. The gardens were created in the 1860s by Mary Anne Disraeli and the garden team of today continue to care for them.

Mary Anne’s love of bright, bold colours is reflected in the colour scheme of vibrant reds, iridescent blue, and gold. In the stableyard, the 15-foot conifer tree features garden icons in miniature. Look for the spades and trowels, wheelbarrows and wellies.

In the manor, wooden baubles in the library reflect Disraeli’s passion for trees and books. Volunteers hand-carved the baubles using wood from the Hughenden estate. The garden hall, with its beautiful views of the formal gardens, features the showpiece of the Christmas theme. The showpiece is a glittering red blue, and gold homage to Disraeli’s beloved peacocks who roamed the estate.

Opening times

10am-4pm, last entry 3.30pm. Saturday, 20 November to Monday, 3 January.

House – 11am-3pm, last entry 2.15pm. Numbers in the house are limited for safety, places available on a first-come, first-serve basis on the day only.

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

From 10am – 3.30pm, Saturday, 4 December – Monday, 3 January. Pick up your trail sheet from visitor reception when you arrive. Suitable for children aged 3-8 years.

2. Cliveden (near Maidenhead)

Winter is a wonderful time of year to reconnect with family and friends on frosty walks in the great outdoors. Spend time making new memories or picking up where you left off in Cliveden’s 400 acres of gardens, woodland, and riverside .

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Saturday 4 December – Thursday 23, December. Meet by the Info Centre to collect a trail map.

3. Basildon Park (near Reading)

This year, Basildon Park is inviting the woodland into the house, and bringing lights to the wintry woodland. The walk up to the house is full of shadow and mystery throughout autumn. The lights transform it in winter into a twinkling promenade of hope and reflection. Inside the house, a forest of Christmas trees awaits to delight the senses. There are sounds of woodland animals, the smell of pine, orange and cinnamon and the gentle caress of cool, silky fir branches.

There are also wreath-making workshops to book onto at the Basildon Park website from 26 November.

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Sat 4 Dec – Mon 3 Jan, 10am-4pm

4. The Vyne (near Basingstoke)

This year, the mansion is luxuriously decorated like a Victorian Christmas. Glittering Christmas trees and traditional decorations fill the ground floor rooms. An indoor family trail takes children on an adventure back in time. Enjoy wintery walks with beautiful views across fields, woods, and wetlands. At the end of the walk, enjoy warm mulled wine and mince pies in the café.

27 November – 2 January (closed 24 & 25 December)

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Saturday 4 December – Monday, 3 January

5. Greys Court (near Henley-on-Thames)

Greys Court is celebrating a family Christmas this year with Brunner family traditions. Christmas dinner is on the dining table and handmade decorations are all around. There is the scent of real fir trees and music playing throughout the house. Sense the nostalgic feel of happy Christmas memories spent with loved ones.

Throughout December book one of the candlelit tours on selected evenings. It promises to be a cosy, festive experience in the house at Greys Court. If you’re lucky on your visit, you may be able to sample some of Lady Brunner’s gingerbread. Our volunteers lovingly bake them to her recipe.

6. Chastleton (near Stow-on-the-Wold)

This Christmas we invite you to imagine the festive season as enjoyed by the first owner of Chastleton House, Walter Jones.

See the house decked in traditional Jacobean style, complete with dried flowers and greenery from the garden. As you wind your way through the decorated rooms, you may notice the scents of Christmas; wood smoke, oranges and spices. Listen to the sounds of the fire crackling in the grate, traditional lute music and the bustle of festivities.

Along the way, you can discover stories of how the Jones family may have celebrated the season. Look out for the Great Hall, its table is laid with the family pewter, glinting in the firelight. The kitchen will be the heart of festive preparation, with ale and food arriving through the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Opening Times

11am – 3pm, last entry into the house at 2.30pm, Saturday 27 November – Sunday, 5 December

For more information visit

National Trust

Father Christmas at Bucks County Museum

Meet Father Christmas with a Georgian twist!

Join us at Discover Bucks Museum in Aylesbury for a traditional Georgian Christmas full of Georgian-inspired games, crafts, and gifts.
By Charlotte, Bucks Museum

Discover some of the seasonal festivities of the 1700s at our traditional Saint Nicholas event. Since this day out only takes place on Saturday, 11 December, 10.30am – 4pm, BOOK NOW! Don’t miss out.

Children will be delighted to visit our Green St. Nick for storytelling and receive a wonderful traditional gift*.

Meet the costumed re-enactors from The Mannered Mob. They’ll be giving fascinating demonstrations and engaging talks about life in Georgian times. There will be crafters, musicians, and even a Georgian doctor on hand!

Food historian, The Copper Pot will share customs around food and cooking. You’ll certainly be tempted to buy and try a very different, authentic Georgian-recipe hot chocolate.

There will be parlour games, fan and wig decorating, pomander making and be sure to try out the trails. There is so much more! Why wouldn’t you want to find out more about Georgian Christmas?


Our reasonable prices are:

  • Adult £8
  • Child £5.50(includes traditional toy gift and craft activities).
  • Under 3-year-olds go free.

*Gifts for children 3 years plus.

Book your tickets online at
Find us

Discover Bucks Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury HP20 2QP.

About Discover Bucks Museum

The museum is a space to explore, learn and wonder about Bucks. You can find out about the stories of people and places in this area and beyond.  It looks after 130,000 objects telling the story of Bucks and beyond from 200 million years ago to the present day. 

In 2014, an independent trust took over the museum which Bucks County Council had previously run.  Of course, the change didn’t change our charity status and our charity name remains Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust, with registered charity number 1153345.
Graphic designer, Ravi Chandwani designed the new logo. He used vibrant colours, inspired by the Buckinghamshire coat of arms.


Christmas Celebrations at the National Trust

As the nights are drawing in and the air is getting colder, of course, Christmas isn’t far away. Finally, it’s time to get into the festive spirit! And, there’s no better way than visiting National Trust places all decked out for the season.

by Katy Dunn

The historic National Trust houses in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire are all decorated in the style of Christmases gone by. Stroll through frosty winter gardens, discover festive crafts to try at home, and tuck into delicious seasonal treats.

After all that, warm yourself with the knowledge that each festive day out supports the National Trust’s work. The charity looks after special places for future generations to enjoy.

Plus Percy the Park Keeper Activity Trail

The National Trust is working in association with the best-selling author and illustrator Nick Butterworth. Together they bring Percy the Park Keeper winter wander to introduce children and their families to the busy park keeper and his animal friends.

The self-led trail invites you and your family and friends to join Percy’s team as he races to get the park and its animals ready for winter.

Read Percy’s handwritten note and donn his famous hat. You can then follow clues to help find Percy’s equipment. Along the way enjoy activities and games as you complete the trail.

At the end of the trail celebrate with a photo-op with Percy and your little ones will take home a prize too.

Trail information
  • Price: £2 per trail, plus normal admission applies.

Celebrate places and seasonal events at National Trust properties in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

Stowe (near Buckingham)

The garden glistens with crisp frost in winter and the mist drifts across the lakes. This is what makes Stowe all the more mysterious and magical at this time of year. Once a hostelry, New Inn will be decorated to welcome you to Stowe in the spirit of festive cheer. There are also festive delights in the café and Christmas shopping in the shop.

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

10am – 4pm, Saturday 4 December – Monday 3 January. Last admission at 3pm.

Canons Ashby (North of Towcester)

Canons Ashby will be dressed in festive finery with traditional and natural decorations and hand-made paper displays. There’ll be a feast fit for the season in the Georgian Dining Room and photo opportunities in the Great Hall. There are Christmas wreath workshops in November.

Traditional Christmas concert with Eboracum Baroque on 5.30-6.30pm, Saturday, 27 November. (book on the website).

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Saturday, 4 December – Sunday, 2 January. Pick up trails from visitor reception.

Waddesdon (near Aylesbury)

Christmas at Waddesdon is back with magical lights and the gardens aglow in an enchanting outdoor extravaganza. As twilight falls, stroll under the stars beneath magically illuminated tree canopies. Moving lights and playful installations will transform them. The rose garden will glow with flowers, there are giant dandelions and an interactive area with bubble tubes.

For the first time ever, the Parterre gets in on the act with a light show highlighting the geometric shapes of the bedding. The Manor’s facade will be bathed in dancing light set to music, and along Miss Alice’s Drive, there’s a display of lanterns and boats decorated by local schoolchildren.

The famous Christmas Fair is also back, where you can soak up the Christmas atmosphere. You’ll certainly be able to stock up on gifts from selected exhibitors in charming wooden chalets.

Christmas Market

12 noon-7 pm, 13 November -23 December 2021, Wednesday-Sunday. Booking necessary.

Light show in the grounds 13 November – 23 December. Wed to Sun. Booking necessary.


Electra all electric boat Bedfordshire waterways

An Electric Winter Warmer on the Water

Enjoy the run-up to Christmas with a “Coffee and Cake” cruise. Invite your friends on the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust’s boat Electra. Electra is the first all-electric trip boat that Warwickshire-based boatbuilders Colecraft Engineering built.

by Steve Ashley

The volunteer Electra team has released its autumn programme of cruises. During the first three weeks of November, this will include morning “Coffee & Cake” cruises.

Lead Cabin Host, James Clifton said:

“Having listened to feedback from our guests, we could see that ‘elevenses’ would be a popular offer: a cafetiere of coffee and a slice of cake. Also on offer is tea, or a mug of hot chocolate complete with whipped cream and topped with marshmallows.”

“Our cruises are regularly fully booked, with almost 1,000 guests enjoying a cruise on the all-electric boat in the three months since we started at the end of July.”

Cruises depart from Campbell Wharf at 10.45am, returning at around one o’clock. Book your tickets in advance through the online booking found at Electra booking.  Coffee & Cake is also available to order on Autumn Charters in November.

Electra is a brand-new fully electric, 54-foot narrowboat. It is crewed by trained volunteers from the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust. In addition, it is accessible, with a lift and lavatory that can accommodate a standard-sized wheelchair.

Make sure you wrap up warmly! Although Electra is fully enclosed and has heating,  we keep the front windows open to improve ventilation.

MacIntyre Bakery at Great Holm, will be supplying the cakes. The charity provides learning, support and care for more than 1,200 children, young people and adults who have a learning disability and/or autism. They are based at various locations across England and Wales.

Get in Touch

Website Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust

About Bedford &Milton Keynes Waterway Trust

Milton Keynes Community Boat Electra is operated by Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Enterprise Ltd. (BMKWEL) the trading company of Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust. BMKWEL is a limited company registered in England No. 08224728. Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust. A limited company registered in England No. 05760839. Registered Office: 30 St John Street, Newport Pagnell MK16 8HJ. A registered charitable company limited by guarantee registered charity no 1114294

Essentially Local Christmas Drawing Competition 2021

Shout-out – Christmas Drawing Competition 2021

It’s our annual shout-out to Young Artists for the Christmas Drawing Competition. Get your entry to the Stony Sweet Shop by 12 noon on 9 October 2021.

by Emma Johnson

If your child loves Christmas as much as they love draw and colour, then this is the competition for them.  Our Annual Christmas Drawing Competition is open and waiting to see their gorgeous Christmas pictures.

What do you Need to Do?

  1. Use brightly coloured felt pens or paint
  2. Take an A4 sheet of paper
  3. Let your imagination run away with you
  4. Create your picture
  5. Take your finished picture to the Stony Sweet Shop, Stony Stratford

What do we Do?

  1. We take your pictures in. Once we’ve got all the pictures, we then ask a group of lovely people to judge. They choose the ones they think should be featured on the front of the Essentially Local magazine.
  2. We scan every picture for our advent countdown on social media. This means that every day from 1-25 December 2021, you will be able to look at our FB and Instagram accounts for the pictures. At some time during this advent your lovely picture to appear. Of course, we love nothing better than writing a few words to let you know what we think of your picture.
  3. After this, we mount every picture on some lovely coloured card, print out your name and then put the pictures into an exhibition. Normally, we hold the exhibition in the Stony Stratford Library. This year might be a little different. The library is being transformed – read more here and it might not be ready in time! I promise, we are all keeping our fingers crossed.
  4. A little extra. This year we plan to create a video of all the pictures on our YouTube channel for an extra little memory. You’ll also be able to share this with friends and family who are far away.

A Couple of Little Things to Remember

  1. We don’t accept computer drawings
  2. All pictures must be original and hand-drawn
  3. Please don’t use glitter and high-lighter pens don’t show up
  4. Put the picture in an envelope and don’t bend it
  5. Take care with your entry. We are not responsible for any entry that is lost, delayed, misplaced or incomplete or cannot be delivered for any reason. Proof of delivery of entry is not proof of receipt.

Who can enter?

If you between 4-12 years of age, send in your entry to the competition. If you are older or younger, we’d love to see your picture. It might not be entered into the competition but we’d love to include it in our exhibition.

Parents and Carers

Dear parents and carers please make sure you include your details, a contact number and email address with the entry for the drawing competition. This is the way we’ll get in touch to let you know all about the winners, the exhibition and anything else.

We won’t bombard you with any advertising material – that’s not what this is all about!

We’ll keep your information for as long as the competition runs and make sure you confirm you are happy for us to use your information like this.

We don’t normally return pictures but you are welcome to go and collect your child’s picture at the end of the exhibition.

For details about the Stony Sweet Shop 

Telephone:  01908 262728

Address: Stratford Arcade, 75 High St, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes MK11 1AY