Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Mansion Christmas

I was lucky to spend Christmas in Newport, Rhode Island. We were there to visit the Newport mansions , or to use their correct term, 'cottages' (not a typical cottage as I know it from living in England, that's for sure!) which are decorated for the season. Only three of the Newport Preservation Society properties are open this time of year, but on visiting the Newport Visitor website, I read about another mansion just a few miles away that I thought we should visit.

Blithewold is in the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, just up the road from the Roger Williams University. Not a huge imposing property, but a nice, large family home with views of Narragansett Bay. The house was built for the Van Wickle family and still looks as if they live there.

The rooms were lavishly decorated for Christmas using the theme "You are invited..." with each room being decorated by a different person or persons. The rooms took on the feel of a New Year Party or an Engagement Party, or Fancy Dress Party to name but a few.

I was most taken with a small bedroom which is called the sewing room, where under the window was the sewing machine, with a party frock waiting for some attention. Fine embroidered linens lay on the bed, ready to be put out for the family and guests.

In a couple of glass showcases two dresses have been conserved and are on display. One lavishly beaded, the other a more simple silk day gown.

Yes, I enjoyed the 'cottages' on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, but the surprise of Blithewold in Bristol made Christmas really special.

Blithewold Mansion, gardens and arboretum can be found at 101 Ferry Road, Bristol, Rhode Island.

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