Decorating “The Palace in the Woods”, Hampton Mansion

Hampton Mansion all lit up for a festive Yuletide night

Hampton Mansion all lit up for a festive Yuletide night

Every year, I help with the decorating of “The Palace in the Woods”, Hampton National Historic site in Towson, Maryland, for their Yuletide celebration.  Dating back to the eighteenth century, Hampton is 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.

Many large mature trees surround Hampton Mansion

Many large mature trees surround Hampton Mansion

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.

Park rangers Amanda and Brooke are very helpful and knowledgeable about decorating the mansion for Christmas

Park Rangers Amanda and Brooke are very helpful and knowledgeable about decorating the mansion for Christmas

hampton

The Christmas tree in the music room is decorated with handmade Victorian ornaments

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 very wealthy. The mansion  showcases Mid-Atlantic life from before the American Revolution to after World War II.

Peacock hand painted screen

Peacock hand painted screen

Drawing room wall paper

Drawing room wall paper

Another beautiful painted screen at Hampton

Another beautiful painted screen at Hampton

The candlelit table is set for a big celebration

The candlelit table is set for a big celebration

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

Food good enough to eat!

Food good enough to eat!

Portrait of Eliza Ridgely, the American heiress and mistress of Hampton for many years

Portrait of Eliza Ridgely, Lady With a Harp, by painter Thomas Sully, the American heiress and mistress of Hampton for many years

hampton

Red Roses were used in most of the arrangements

The Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland take charge of the festive greenery decorations, as well as the fresh floral arrangements, all with the time period in mind when choosing materials. Slated to be restored in the near future, the dilapidated greenhouses were used by the Ridgelys used for out of season food and forcing flowers. Many of the clubs of District III, Baltimore and Harford County, participate and get together to carefully decorate the towering Christmas tree and make lots of labor intensive boxwood wreaths and arrangements.

One of the volunteers working hard on an arrangement

One of the volunteers working hard on an arrangement

 

Using fresh cut greens, a volunteer puts together a large arrangement in a towering urn

Using fresh-cut greens, a volunteer puts together a large arrangement in a towering urn

 

Landing arrangement with peach roses

Landing arrangement with peach roses from 2013

We use a wide variety of fresh evergreens

We use a wide variety of fresh evergreens

The Orangery being used by Garden Clubs to arrange the flowers

The Orangery being used by Garden Clubs to arrange the flowers

 

We meet in the old Orangery to work our magic on beautifying the mansion.  Armed with fresh-cut greens, we bring cut flowers, greens, and cutters. The Park Service also will cut some special greens from the surrounding landscape, like ivy berries, holly, and boxwood, which are beautiful and were certainly used when the Ridgely family lived there.

Mature Ivy

Mature Ivy has great black berries

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. The Hampton estate was the home of the Ridgelys through seven generations, and also of the enslaved people, indentured servants, and paid laborers who supported them, from before the American Revolution to after World War II.

One of the bedrooms with toys that were used in the time period

A bedroom interpreting the life of the children living at Hampton

Paper dolls were typical toys of the time period

Paper dolls were typical toys of the time period

Doll with tea set in one of the bedrooms

Doll with tea set in one of the bedrooms

The servant call bells are still in place

The servant call bells are still in place

One of the many garden club arrangements

One of the many garden club arrangements

About thegardendiaries

Claire Jones is a landscape and floral designer and owner of Claire Jones Landscapes, LLC. She designs and helps people to create their own personal outdoor oasis and loves to write about her gardening failures and successes.
This entry was posted in Decorating Christmas, Floral Arranging, garden travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Decorating “The Palace in the Woods”, Hampton Mansion

  1. Connie says:

    Hi Claire-
    Beautiful pictures, as always. Please remind us about the problems with Hedera helix, and bittersweet. Can’t be too careful.
    I sure miss you, and “garden clubbing”!

    Like

  2. Linda T says:

    Oh Claire, as usual, very informative. I never tire of hearing about Hampton mansion. It was a joy assisting in decorating the Christmas tree once again this year with garden club members. Thanks for all the good information. Have a joyous holiday season.

    Like

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