This weekend the medieval Great Barn at Buckland Abbey, near Plymouth in Devon opened its doors for Christmas to reveal a forest of two hundred twinkly trees and a Christmas star constellation created by visitors and volunteers.
The Christmas star constellation was inspired by the guiding stars Sir Francis Drake followed to circumnavigate the globe before he returned home to Buckland Abbey. Each star represents a Christmas wish or has been made in tribute to someone special. Hundreds of willow stars made by visitors and volunteers fill the roof and top two hundred twinkling Christmas trees.
Helen Trebble, Visitor Experience Manager said: ‘Buckland’s Great Barn is one of the largest medieval barns left in England, and throughout its history there are stories of it being a place where the community are brought together. An army of volunteers, staff, school groups, scouts and visitors have helped create this magical display, a place to reflect on the genuine Christmas.’
Natalie Walters, Visitor Experience Officer added: ‘Besides the incredible work in the Great Barn, visitors will see that the true community effort from our volunteers runs through the whole of Buckland Abbey. Over sixty volunteers have helped with every little detail including making evergreen arbours for the doorways, dressing Christmas trees with stars and sewing the Georgian staircase cascade. All the rooms in the Abbey are beautifully decorated in an Elizabethan-style for feast and festivity!’
Inside the Abbey, thousands of hours of needlework have been put into a beautifully detailed Christmas cascade. Fifteen talented volunteers from the Costume Group have spent six months sewing over six hundred individual pieces to create a cascade that hangs the full length of the Georgian staircase depicting the history of Buckland Abbey.
Sue Allen has spent six Christmases volunteering at Buckland Abbey. Sue said: ‘I’ve always felt connected to the place but it’s particularly special at Christmas time. It's been fantastic to help create something that brings people together and it is so exciting to see the place looking so beautifully festive. However, the greatest joy for me has been working as one of a huge team of dedicated volunteers and committed staff - great fun!’
Volunteer Rangers Geoff Bown and Roy Wilcockson added: ‘There is a community spirit and teamwork in volunteering here. Decorating the arbours for the doorways was one of a wide variety of Christmas jobs we helped with. Hopefully our work will be seen by lots of visitors, helping them get into the true spirit of Christmas.’
Buckland Abbey and the Great Barn is open throughout December. Check the website for opening times and the full list of family events, including local choirs and Olde Father Christmas telling stories at weekends. Go to nationaltrust.org.uk/bucklandabbey