Narnia, of course.
To get to Narnia, you’d need a vintage wardrobe in a 1940’s country home. The sort to which, four children might be evacuated. An English country home like Mottisfont in Hampshire.
Mottisfont has evolved through time and ownership. The old stones have seen life as a priory, Tudor palace and a Georgian country estate.
By the 1930’s, the house had been sold to Gilbert and Maud Russell. Under the guidance of Maud- fashionable, creative, well respected for her knowledge of the arts- the house we see today was created. A luxurious, classical home.
Mottisfont and the surrounding gardens are beautiful at any time of year, but particularly when dressed for Christmas. This year is extra special as Mottisfont is hosting a magical reimagining of the C.S Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Mottisfont At Christmas
You can’t just go haring off into Narnia. There’s a little scene setting to be done first.
As you enter the house, you fall into a 1940’s Christmas and into the story of Edmund, Lucy, Susan and Peter. For this season only, Mottisfont has been transformed into the country home of Professor Digory Kirke, where the children found themselves when evacuated from the bombs of The Blitz.
Going through the doors to begin the festive trail, it’s impossible not to feel a little thrill. A beautiful room, a fire burning in the grate, a traditionally dressed tree. A beautiful beginning, a welcome full of warmth and sparkle.
The house is stunning. Every aspect designed to be pleasing to the eye, but it still homely and warm, especially at Christmas. First the bedrooms, starting with The Boys Room. Full of vintage treasures but with a rough and tumble feel. Traditional train sets laid out on the floor and aircraft overhead.
Even the corridor leading off from the bedrooms, simple and understated compared to the rest of the house, is gorgeous. Lots of symmetry, traditional garlands and chandeliers overhead.
The next bedroom, in contrast, a thing of absolute beauty. Feminine and luxurious, a four-poster bed taking pride of place. A vintage rocking horse in front of the most beautifully decorated fireplace I have ever seen. Christmas decor goals.
I told Mr THL this was the life to which I’d like to become accustomed, but his snort in reply wasn’t very encouraging. A girl can dream, hey?
Stepping into Narnia
What do you need to step into Narnia? A wardrobe. One big enough to step into and emerge into a land of winter and magic. After a little bit of exploring the house, you’ll come across such a wardrobe. Just like Lucy in The Lion. The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Each room beyond the wardrobe is lavishly decorated, inspired by the kingdom of the White Witch. There are frosted trees, a sleigh, twinkling lights. A table laden with a forest and fairytale themed buffet. One side warm and woodland inspired, the other from the Land of Perpetual Winter.
The Narnia inspired trail ends with an explosion of festive spirit. In the final room, Aslan the lion presides over the crowning of the new kings and queens of Narnia.
He stands alongside a 16ft Christmas tree adorned with decorations in purple, red and gold. Piles of gifts, beautifully wrapped, are stacked around the bottom of the tree.
An impressive ending to an impressive and feel-good family experience.
As well as the whimsical and lavish Narnia inspired dressing of the house, Mottisfont is hosting an exhibition showing 16 water colour illustrations of the story by Pauline Baynes.
Each illustration brings to life a scene from the story. I read that C.S Lewis and Baynes only met a handful of times and that he wasn’t the greatest fan of her work, but I like the illustrations. I think she captured beautifully the malevolence of the Witch, the bustling charm of Mr and Mrs Beaver and – my favourite- an inquisitive Lucy climbing into the wardrobe.
The gardens at Mottisfont are always worth a wander, and they too have been dusted with some Narnia inspired magic. There are floral arrangements featuring tiny wardrobes and life size wardrobes that allow you to step into a scene from the story. No pictures of the latter- we visited on opening day and couldn’t get near.
Elsewhere in the grounds and gardens, there is much that might not be magical but that is definitely worth exploring. Wander the Kitchen Garden and the Rose Garden, view the house in all its glory from the formal lawns, find the last horse in the old stables and seek out the concealed entrance to the old icehouse.
The Practical Stuff
Mottisfont House & Gardens can be found near Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 0LP.
Standard adult entry £16, child £8. Family tickets available, free entry for National Trust members.
Full details on the Mottisfont website.
If you liked this post, try these ones next: Finding Narnia in Oxford and A Day Out at Mottisfont
That’s interesting. As a child, I had the fully imagined house scenes in my head, and wouldn’t have welcomed anybody else’s take on them. I might be more forgiving now. It sounds fun, and quite thoughtful, and well worth a day out.
It’s been really well done, Margaret, and the volunteers were having a great time with it which just put even more smiles into our day. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but I used to spend a lot of time at a place called Matfen Hall up in Northumberland and I was always convinced that was THE Narnia house. I think now though, it will always be Mottisfont!
I don’t know Matfen, but it’s more reachable than Mottisfont for me, so perhaps I should. Thanks!
A great tour through an impressive house that has been transformed to fully promote the spirit of the holidays. Very welcoming indeed. The illustrations shown here are beautifully done.
It’s a beautiful theme for the festive season, and I think it will encourage a lot of visitors to read- or reread- the novel. The illustrations are enchanting, aren’t they.
How wonderful! I still remember the enchantment of being seven and having our class teacher read us a chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the end of each day. At one time I read the full set annually, but I seem to have grown out of them now. I’d love this house though!
Visiting the house has made me want to reread the books, they are enchanting. The house is beautiful and the woman behind its revival very much walked her own path! Worth a visit if you are ever in Hampshire.
A lovely house and beautifully decorated to invoke Christmas magic and spirit. I would love to have a wander through the house and its gardens, the book was a staple of my childhood. And I can only imagine how thrilled a child would be to step into Narnia. It’s that time of the year and Christmas posts are making me a touch homesick.
It’s a great choice of theme for celebration, isn’t it? Pure nostalgia for adults who read the story as children and full of magic for children just getting into it. Hope the homesickness doesn’t get you down, are you still in Georgia?
Oh it’s not that bad, just a pang really. Yes, we are in Tbilisi at the moment. It’s getting cold.
Such a lovely setting for Narnia. And Mr THL looks quite at home there. What a fabulous day out!
Thanks Jo, it was lovely. And even lovelier for having Mr THL along- never a given!
What a beautiful place. It must be such a good experience to do with children.
It was beautiful- a magical way to begin the Christmas season.
How delightful. We used to visit Mottisfont every year for the outdoor Shakespeare in the summer enjoying a picnic as the play developed around us. Happy family memories from the 70s.i wonder if they still do it.
Not sure about Shakespeare, but they still do Summer theatre. I like to think Maud Russell would have approved 😊
What a clever way to add interest and beauty to an already lovely house! For me Narnia will always look as Pauline Baynes painted it 🙂
Absolutely. The copy I owned as a child featured her illustrations and they are very much part of the story for me 😊
I have always loved ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ from the first time I read the book, then reading it to my younger brother and sister and then to my sons. Mottisfont has done a wonderful job in recreating Narnia and your photos capture the magic of Narnia. Lovely post!
Thanks June. It’s a timeless tale, isn’t it? One of the things I liked on the day was how many multi-generational groups were there. Some just discovering Narnia, some rediscovering it!
So lovely to view the house dressed for Christmas.
What a magical day out, I’m so glad you get to climb through a wardrobe. A brilliant idea indeed!
Lovely! I went to Mottisfont last summer, but it looks even more magical in its Christmas clothes 🙂
It’s a beautiful place at any time of year, but the festive season has really brought some extra magic with it!
This would make a magical day out! Especially at Christmas. Thanks for sharing
Omggg, this house looks like it’s from a Christmas movie. I love the idea of experiencing Christmas in different places.
Oh, I’m so sorry for the late reply. This comment went astray and I’m just seeing it now! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. The house is like a movie set, they pick a different theme every year. It must be a lot of fun- and a lot of work- coming up with each one.
Great post! Thanks for sharing!
What a beautiful Christmas idea! And the perfect setting for it.
Yes, the house lends itself beautifully to the story and the season. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment- appreciate it!
How beautiful, and the work to create this is amazing, ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ was a favourite of my children and my grandchildren love it also…what a special experience this is
It was really magical and timeless, a real family friendly celebration!
Wow, this looks absolutely wonderful! Such a unique experience, I’ll have to go there sometime!
Oh, that looks like super fun!! I would love to visit! And would be fab if they did overnight stays! Maybe a few days a year!?
I’m so sorry for the late reply, I’ve just found a batch of comments that went astray! I really do appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Oh, overnight stays would be fabulous. Like stepping back in time.
It looks beautiful and I love the idea of stepping through the wardrobe!
I would have loved to have seen that. The Chronicles of Narnia were great favourites of mine when I was a child, and I still have the boxset of books I received one birthday way back in nineteen hundred and freezing cold!
proper Narnia! I loved the books and the TV series and the movies:)