Hosting your perfect Christmas is one of best ways to bring family and friends together, but what's your ideal Christmas? Sledging before lunch, or the Boxing Day shoot?
It’s only a few weeks until Christmas already and as the air turns frosty and the sun sits low in the sky, thoughts inevitably turn to festive plans.
But what makes a perfect house for a Christmas celebration? Well there must be roaring fires, of course, and high ceilings for a fine, tall tree. The dining room needs to be grand enough for Christmas lunch, while reception rooms require cosy corners for a post-prandial snooze.
Everyone must have somewhere to sleep which suits, and generous grounds will allow the children to rush about burning off all the sugar, or provide a blustery walk for the adults, while a sporting estate can provide whole days out in the sharp, winter air. But do you want to be miles from anywhere, or close to London? Are you a sporting fanatic or desperate for snow?
It’s not too late to find your perfect Christmas house, and invite your nearest and dearest. We’ve started out, by locating some of the best country houses for sale for the perfect Christmas gathering, depending on your requirements.
The extended family
Trevella is a wonderful Georgian country house dating back to the 18th century. With eight bedrooms in the main house, and an attached three-bedroom cottage it has oodles of space for the whole family at Christmas, and some beautiful reception rooms for long winter evenings catching up by the fire. One can easily imagine an Agatha Christie novel set here: make sure you keep the rat posion locked up just in case.
The grounds come to over 13 acres – ideal for some decent walks and for the children to blow off some steam – while St Austell is just 15 miles, and has direct trains from London Paddington, which means it’s easy to reach from the rest of the country.
The views from this romantic house feature Loch Eishort and stretch to the legendary Black Cullin, and the Isles of Canna and Rhum. This classic period five-bedroom country house would suit a family looking to really get away from it all for Christmas and Skye is the perfect destination: still drivable but with all the other worldly charm of the hebrides.
This house is for romantics: evocative of another era, the main formal rooms all have french oak flooring and there are georgian fireplaces in the drawing room and the library. The large, shaker style kitchen is fully equipped to produce a delicious Christmas lunch, while your chances of a white Christmas are also pretty good.
A White Christmas
A white Christmas may have been standard in Dickens’ time but it’s now rare for most country folks in the UK. Greystones in Ballater, however, is right next door from one of the coldest places in the country, Braemar, which frequently has snowfalls of up to 30cm at a time in winter months, so it’s the perfect place to have a white Christmas.
The six bedroom house was built just outside the village at the end of the 19th century for a retired naval captain. It has magnificent southerly views over the 15th green and 16th tee on Ballater Golf Course and over to the River Dee to the Coyles. The drawing room and sitting room are ideal spaces for entertaining: we just imagine them overflowing with wrapping paper by the end of Christmas day.
If your family is composed of workaholics tied to their desks, or you have Christmas guests flying in from overseas, you won’t want people to have to struggle the length or breath of the country to get to you.
This beautiful period house just outside Alresford in Hampshire is believed to be of William and Mary origin, and provides seven bedrooms in the main house, and two cottages for extended family or friends.
The reception rooms have plenty of space for charades by the fire, but if you were looking for more generous spaces for some amateur dramatics, for instance, or a New Year party for the younger generation the magnificent barns come to over 7,000 sq ft. Nine acres of pretty grounds offer appealing fresh air options.
All this can be found just over an hour and a half from London by car.
If you’re Christmas mad you probably dream of an epic, lavish Christmas week with guests coming and going, long lunches, evening parties and perhaps hosting your own boxing day shoot. In which case you might consider Avishayes, a Grade II* listed very fine Georgian country house with exceptional family accommodation. This house was built for entertaining on a grand scale. Just imagine your Christmas tree in this hallway.
The main house has seven bedroom suites, while a guest cottage and five other dwellings can accommodate a large party of extended family and friends. The estate itself offers around 90 acres of parkland and woodland.
In addition to the main estate, which includes a listed chiming clock tower, shooting rights over about 1,200 acres on the nearby Cricket St Thomas Estate are available by separate negotiation, as are the fine art and furniture as part of the contents of the house.