A Narnian Christmas at Chatsworth House – Part Two
One of the most amazing things about visiting Chatsworth House this week was just the fact that we were allowed to take photos. Anyone who has been round the great stately homes of England will know that this is very unusual, so it felt like a triple privilege being able to take photos of such marvellous architecture and works of art, along with the staggering amount of special Christmas decor plus the magical Narnian theme.
A glory of Chatsworth even under normal conditions is the enormous Painted Hall with the main staircase. Virtually every inch is covered with murals and carving and sculpture. Those of us walking around the house had already begun to gasp as we entered each room, but this next one really took our breath away.
The White Witch had certainly commandeered the best spot, looking magnificent at the top of the main stairs with a cloak flowing down,
with the addition of a few cheeky boxes of turkish delight.
She was standing next to a very impressive throne that looked suspiciously like the silver chair.
Turkish delight was definitely a theme here, even nestling under glass domes on side tables.
It was possible to view the whole scene from a balcony on the upper floor and get an even more amazing perspective.
Here one could see the top of the gigantic Christmas trees.
Apparently it took the staff a week of solid work to decorate the house. I’m surprised it didn’t take a lot longer.
Even though the scene with the White Witch was impressive, the next scene, though on a smaller scale, was even more astonishing. We were suddenly confronted with a life-size Aslan on the Stone Table. He was bound with ropes in the classic pose and there were small white mice moving around on him as if helping to free him. They were animatronic of course but it looked surprisingly realistic. But the most surprising thing was that Aslan’s chest was moving up and down gently as if he had begun to breathe again and was returning to life. I don’t know if they didn’t want to present him as dead so as not to upset children or if this was a genuine theological statement! Of course Aslan, the true King, has given his life in exchange for Edmund, to rescue him from the White Witch. I could have stared at this for ages but of course one has to keep moving and let other people see. The scene fitted remarkably well with the backdrop of the room chosen and felt august and solemn.
Next a statue of a veiled lady reminded me of the women weeping at the tomb of Jesus, and Susan and Lucy mourning Aslan, before they know of his victory over death.
All the way round the house were small lion toys to give the children clues to various questions for them for the quiz on the guide.
Now a whole tree decorated with lots of lion toys seemed to be giving the hint as well that perhaps the witch was not about to have everything her way and Aslan was on the move again…
Part Three concerns the victory of Aslan and the enthronement of the four children at Cair Paravel.