Sarah Beeny’s Rise Hall Christ­mas

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

In 2001, Sarah Beeny and her hus­band Gra­ham Swift bought the Grade II listed Rise Hall in York­shire for £435,000. They set about ren­o­vat­ing the 97-room stately home, start­ing with the leak­ing roof. It was a mam­moth task, with mul­ti­ple hor­ren­dous set­backs, which made riv­et­ing tele­vi­sion over two se­ries, Beeny’s Restora­tion Night­mare. It’s a mir­a­cle that they man­aged it, with four chil­dren, and re­mained mar­ried, and sane. In this Christ­mas spe­cial, the fam­ily traces the history of the fes­tive sea­son and recre­ates the style of past cel­e­bra­tions Rise Hall would have hosted go­ing back to 1773, when the orig­i­nal house was built. (The es­tate it­self dates from 1066 and rates a men­tion in the Domes­day Book.) The fam­ily ex­plores the ori­gins of tra­di­tional Christ­mas cus­toms from the Christ­mas tree, tur­key and mince pies to crack­ers, send­ing cards and ex­chang­ing gifts. Tra­di­tions that are fa­mil­iar to us to­day evolved through time — from the party-lov­ing Ge­or­gians and fam­ily con­scious Vic­to­ri­ans to the “make-do” years dur­ing the two world wars and the largesse of to­day. Al­though she dresses in pe­riod cos­tume here, usu­ally Beeny doesn’t much care for ap­pear­ances, which makes her both lik­able and real. She also knows what she’s talk­ing about when it comes to real es­tate. And Rise Hall, all dressed up for Christ­mas and cloaked in snow, has never looked bet­ter.

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