Sunday, 11 December 2011

Heigh Ho the Holly

A really seasonal evening in the Great Hall of Ham House with a concert of sixteenth and century music played on period instruments by the wonderful City Musick ensemble who combine their research into the 'waits' - professional musicians employed by towns and cities to play at civic ceremonies and in exceptional circumstances to keep the hours - with gorgeous playing of sackbutts, cornetts and bagpipes.

The evening interspersed carol and wassailing with carefully chosen secular readings, mostly centred on music making, from Shakespeare to Hardy delivered with charm and wit by the treacle voiced actor Andrew Harvill and we in the audience snuggled up in the appropriately freezing hall for an hour of wonderfully evocative entertainment that really ushered in the festive season. Sounds and stories from the past reminding us that in the ever changing world of consumer must haves the spirit of Christmas has essentially stayed the same.

Afterwards we were taken through the upper rooms, through the gallery and past the substantial library to the orangery for mulled wine and hot mince pies. Outside the wind blew up and December rain began to fall. It mattered not a jot. The holidays are fast approaching.

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