Full of mystery and mystique, and with little mayhem thrown in for good measure, four of the stately rooms in Petworth House were recently home to a festive Christmas masquerade.

Set amongst the rolling hills of the South Downs in West Sussex, England, the austere facade looked an unlikely venue for such frolics.


But if you’d stepped inside, you’d have found yourself confronted by mannequins lavishly and intricately dressed from hair to shoes made from paper. A gloriously organic and recyclable collection designed and created by Denise Watson of Delicarta.
With inspiration drawn from the Italian artwork in Petworth House, the mannequins looked bizarrely at home next to the great works of art and and the fine furniture in the stately home.


As you wandered from room to room under the dimmed lights, you were transported from one fantastical world to another. I loved the Venice inspired one;


So much detail! The ringlets of paper hair, the jewellery and the props all so expertly and beautifully crafted by hand. The ambiance of intrigue and mystery… each collection telling it’s own special story.
Made especially for the occasion also was a 6 tier, 70 kilogram cake. An amazing creation by Choccywoccydoodah. Definitely too good to eat!


Visitors were encouraged to don masks and enter into the spirit of things. There was a good array of masks to choose from if you’d fancied – something I just couldn’t resist doing!


One of the volunteers proudly told me that after the event the huge handmade paper mache masks on the wall would be recycled along with all the paper clothes, props and lavish Christmas origami decorations. Great to know they care about the environment.


Quotes from a whole spectrum of famous people lined the path to the entry of the house; from Shakespeare to Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Mary Poppins and Mickey Mouse they all had something to say. I couldn’t help feeling Roald Dahl’s quote was so very apt;


The Historic kitchens were also open to visitors during this month long event. Not so organically decorated or in keeping with the Italian Masquerade theme but still a pleasure to see.


A volunteer was on hand in the kitchens to explain things, but come the end of the day and nearing the end of the month-long exhibition, it was no wonder the poor man was exhausted!


Time for coffee and a snack and to enjoy a bit of Christmas frivolity in the Petworth House cafe;


Then a final stroll in the grounds before the house closed for the day.


With the fading light and the mist hovering over the lake, the vistas were as magical as the masquerade. So very stunning.


The Christmas masquerade at Petworth House was held from 2nd December till 3rd January 2017 and took 8 months to prepare for.