Erddig country house

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It's a beautiful sunny and crisp day in Wrexham today (Wednesday) where I've come to record an edition of Country Focus at Erddig, the National Trust property described as the 'jewel in the crown of Welsh country houses'.

For the first time this year, parts of the main house are being opened up to the public as part of the Trust's plans to open their properties 364 days a year.

Normally the house would be in darkness, with the furniture covered in cream-coloured shrouds throughout the winter months, as part of the process which involves 'putting the house to bed'.

At Erddig, the servants areas of the house, including the hall where they ate their meals together, are open to the public, all decorated for Christmas, with clove-studded oranges, paper chains and bunches of holly adorning the long tables and corridors.

I also took a peek behind the scenes to find out what was going on at Erddig in the rest of the house.

In one of the bedrooms, two members of staff were busy giving the room a 'deep clean', dusting and vacuuming every nook and cranny and carefully inspecting for signs of the dreaded carpet beetles which can cause so much havoc in a large country house.

Further along the corridor, the state bedroom is undergoing a transformation. The furniture and even the wallpaper in this room are so delicate and precious that visitors can only look into the room through a glass box inside the door.

The magnificent bed itself dates to the 1720's and the Chinese silk wallpaper is around four hundred years old.

The glass viewing panels are now being replaced with a more modern and accessible version which will give the room added protection.

I felt quite honoured to be allowed in to the room and imagine what it was like to stay there as a guest.

Outside I met Head Gardener Glyn Smith who had given up on 'leaf duty' today because of the strong winds.

He took me to see the impressive formal gardens, complete with conical yew trees, mushroom-shaped box hedges and apple trees training along the walls.

We went via the internal courtyards which at the moment are housing around fifty wooden chalets for the Erddig Victorian Christmas Fair which is taking place at the weekends.

I asked Glyn how a Head Gardener spends his Christmas and he admitted that he'll be in watering the greenhouses on Christmas Day, making sure that everything is surviving. It seems that a house and garden like Erddig never sleeps.

The Erddig Christmas Village is open weekends on December 10, 11, 17 and 18 from 10 am to 5 pm.

For more information, phone 01978 355314 or email: erddig@nationaltrust.org.uk

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