Tin Box Tot playing with a cup and ball at Mottisfont Abbey
Hampshire days out

A Christmas Carol at Mottisfont Abbey

There are few stories that sum up the festive season more than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
 
So when I heard that there was A Christmas Carol themed trail at Mottisfont Abbey near Romsey in Hampshire I made sure it was on our bucket list of pre-Christmas family activities.
 
While we haven’t been able to do everything we originally hoped to we made sure we found time for Mottisfont and I’m so glad we did.
 

About Mottisfont Abbey

 
Mottisfont Abbey



The house began life as a priory in the 13th Century and like many properties belonging to the Catholic Church was given to a noble under the rule of King Henry VIII. There have been extensions and renovations over the centuries including the addition of a stone facade in Georgian times.

 
Today you can walk along the river that runs through the estate, admire the gardens with their huge London Plane trees, tour the house and visit the changing art exhibition in the attic.

Mr Tin Box and Tin Box Tot walking along the river at Mottisfont Abbey
Tin Box Tot walking in the gardens at Mottisfont Abbey


 

On the trail of A Christmas Carol

Mr Tin Box had a rare week day off – the perfect opportunity to enjoy some family time. My parents who are National Trust members and seasoned visitors to Mottisfont also joined us for the day.

We arrived as Mottisfont opened and made a beeline for the cafe as it was time for Tin Box Baby’s mid-morning milk. It also allowed us to shelter from the drizzle and gave us the chance to check out the two maps we’d been given – one for adults and another for Tin Box Tot with lots of activities for her to do as we walked the trail. 
 
The main cafe is in the kitchens of the house and has plenty of original features including working fireplaces, stoves and a large kitchen table laid out with period utensils. 
 
After a hot drink we were relieved to find that the rain had stopped. We wandered back towards the entrance where we began the trail. 

Tin Box Tot looks at holly and ivy in an old market cart at Mottisfont Abbey


 
We were taken on journey though a Dickensian Christmas with street sellers’ carts trading holly, bread and brick-a-brack. At the stables there was a beautiful Christmas tree, surrounded by all sorts of things for TBT to explore and try out. Everything was very hands on, which was a relief for us as parents of an inquisitive toddler.

Tin Box Tot looks at bread in a market cart at Mottisfont Abbey
Tin Box Tot playing with an old cup and ball toy at Mottisfont Abbey
Tin Box Tot sat on a horses saddle in a stable at Mottisfont Abbey
Tin Box Tot enjoying the Punch and Judy show at Mottisfont Abbey


 
TBT’s favourite trail activity at the stables was the DIY Punch and Judy show. Mr Tin Box was first to try his hand at being the puppet master but it wasn’t long before TBT also wanted some of the action. It was lucky we visited on a week day as she monopolised the crocodile for quite a while.
 
She also had a go at writing with a quill in Scrooge’s counting house and crafted her own bird in a cage.

Tin Box Tot and Mr Tin Box sat at an old fashioned desk at Mottisfont Abbey


 
Next the trail led us around the outside of the house where it took a spooky turn. In the old nave of the church we found the ghost of Jabob Marley. 

A scene from A Christmas Carol with the ghost of Jacob Marley



TBT took it all in her stride and was more interested in making paper chains – the kids activity at this point on the trial – and being chased around the medieval vault by Mr TB.

 
The trial continued inside the house. In several of the rooms there were Dickensian characters adorned with the most beautiful outfits created from paper. The lighting was a bit atmospheric so excuse the poor quality of my pictures – they really don’t do the scenes from Scrooge’s visions justice.

Scrooge in bed and the Ghost of Christmas Past at Mottifont Abbey
At the end of the Mottisfont Abbey trail there is a huge Christmas tree and we asked my dad to take a family photo. Unfortunately TBT wasn’t playing ball but we managed get a picture with TBB – it’s so much easier when they can’t run off!

Tin Box Traveller, Mr Tin Box and Tin Box Baby in front of the Christmas tree at Mottisfont Abbey
Christmas tree at Mottifont Abbey



We had a lovely day at Mottisfont Abbey. There was plenty to keep the whole family entertained and TBT was shattered by the end of our visit – always a bonus! 

The A Christmas Carol trail is on until Sunday 3 January 2016 (excluding 24 and 25 December). There’s a suggested donation of £1 for the trail on top of your entrance fee. Admission with Gift Aid for adults costs £14 and for children costs £6.50.

Good to know

  • Not all parts of the trail are pushchair friendly – we had to leave ours outside the house
  • The ice-cream parlour was closed during our visit as there’s some renovation work going on to improve the cafe facilities at the stables.
  • The Tin Box Grandparents highly recommend visiting Mottisfont in the spring or summer to see the gardens at their best. We enjoyed them in the winter too.

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