I have been wanting to visit Doddington Hall and Gardens for a really long time and seeing as my parents came to visit Lincoln this weekend for the annual Christmas market, we decided to go together. Doddington Hall, the surrounding gardens and park are on the outskirts of Lincoln and only take around 10 minutes to get to by car from the centre of Lincoln. So, as the weather was clear and crisp on Saturday morning, we packed some lunch and headed out.
Doddington Hall and Gardens
The hall and gardens were very easy to find and we found plenty of free parking opposite, with extra parking inside the park down by the seasonal ‘Bauble Barn’! The hall is currently decorated for Christmas in a ‘White Christmas’ style, and has been open to the public since the weekend of 30th November/1st December 2013. From then onwards Doddington is open every weekend until 21st/22nd December and admission is only £6 per person to visit both the hall and gardens (Usually it is £9.50 for adults and £4.75 for children to visit the hall and gardens – for more details see here).
We started our visit by crossing the entrance driveway, where currently the grounds are decorated with Christmas lights, trees and interesting wooden sculptures. You enter the gardens through the original coach house, where you pay admission and can purchase guide books.
Once you pass through a lovely old wooden door you find yourself in a large courtyard directly in front of Doddington Hall. Like many houses I have visited, the courtyard is surrounded by a large red brick wall, with carefully trimmed topiaries – I particular liked the unicorns holding family crests! The hall itself has got to be one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever visited. Started in 1595 by the Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson and completed in 1600. Originally the hall was built for Thomas Tailor, the registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln and it’s exterior hasn’t been changed very much since it’s completion. However, internally the building over went a large scale re decoration to the elegant Georgian style seen today by John Delaval of Seaton Delaval in Northumberland in 1749.
You enter the Hall through the original front entrance, which is really nice to be able to do, and immediately find yourself in the beautiful grand hall. The guide present greeted us straight away and spent time giving us a really interesting talk regarding the history of the family and grand hall itself.
The grand hall was decorated beautifully with large tissue paper pom-poms above the large table, an enormous Christmas tree in the corner and interesting family belongings throughout. One aspect I found particularly interesting was the example of traditional glass that used to present when the Hall was originally built compared to the newer glass that is now present throughout the building.
We were also told that the family still live on the left hand side of the building, while visitors are allowed to visit the traditionally kept right hand side. As I already mentioned, this year the hall is decorated in a ‘white Christmas’ style, with each floor having an individual theme based from this. Dried flowers and plants as well as seasonal foliage which have been spray painted are also seen throughout the hall. I think they added a wonderful feel to the Hall, bringing the outside in and creating a great festive feel!
As you leave the grand hall you are greeted by a huge and very beautiful staircase that continues all the way up to the top floor. There are around 2-3 rooms currently open on each of the floors, however this does change based on the time of year so I would love to come back to see the other rooms open. One display I found particularly interesting held the uniform of one family member who was killed in action during war service. You can see the hole where the bullet that killed him passed through his outer armor and inner uniform.
On the first floor in the drawing room there is currently a themed display based on the very cold winter of 1814, which creates a really interesting experience. Every room is full of family belongings, a variety of paintings/photographs and seasonal decoration. The guides throughout our visit were very friendly and knowledgeable, which I always really enjoy as I love to hear the interesting stories they tell.
One of my favourite rooms was definitely the long gallery, which was decorated with sprayed birch saplings and fallen topiary along with plenty of snow and a large lantern unicorn filled with fairy lights at the end.
I also really enjoyed the library which was filled with paper snowflakes and paper trees created by the current family, as well as old books and photos of the family over the years.
When you have finished exploring you leave the hall through the same entrance and can then head left into the walled kitchen garden. At this time of year there isn’t as much to see in the garden, however you can still see winter vegetables, seasonal holly, ivy and mistletoe. We then explored the surrounding gardens as well as one of walks that takes you through woodland before heading back up in front of the hall.
Once finished we left the hall and decided to head over to the nearby farm shop which was well stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. There is also a cafe towards the back of the shop and a small courtyard which would be lovely in summer. If you carry on walking behind the farm shop there are a few shops to visit before you reach the bauble barn and Christmas trees for sale. There was a good selection of Norwegian firs and spruces, of varying sizes, heights and very reasonable prices. So reasonable that we found ourselves leaving with our very own tree, that then had to travel all the way back to Oxfordshire!
I really enjoyed my visit to Doddington and will definitely be visiting again. The hall is beautiful inside and out, all the guides were very friendly and knowledgeable, and the grounds were great to explore. Although the price is a bit more expensive at other times during the year, I really think you get a lot for your money. If you have the chance I would definitely recommend visiting while the hall and grounds are decorated for Christmas as the white Christmas theme is really well done and unique.
A Year in the Life…