Re-creating Christmases past at Rockwood Museum


December 12, 1993|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

Rockwood Museum is a 19th-century country estate and one of Wilmington's most interesting attractions. Christmas at Rockwood attracts visitors each year to see the decorations and observe family life during holiday time at the turn of the century. The manor house, built in 1851 by merchant-banker Joseph Shipley, was patterned on an English country house. The estate includes a porter's lodge, gardener's cottage, barn and other outbuildings.

The mansion itself is filled with English, Continental and American decorative arts from the 17th to 19th centuries. A highlight this year is the collection of antique kugels, decorative glass orbs popular in the 1890s. The kugels in the display are on loan from private collections and range in size from miniatures to one 16 inches in diameter, which hung directly over the dance floor to help chaperones keep an eye on the young couples.

A Christmas tree in the parlor is dressed with Victorian ornaments, and the dining-room table is set with the family's best china for a holiday dinner.

Tours are offered Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the last tour beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $6 for adults; $5 for seniors citizens and $2 for ages 5 to 16.

This week from Thursday to Sunday, dramatic presentations will be given during evening tours. Costumed actors will re-create holiday scenes from 1905. Afterward, guests can enjoy wassail and cookies. These tours are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 per person, and reservations are required. Rockwood is at 610 Shipley Road in Wilmington. Call (302) 761-4340.

Down on the farm

An 18th-century Christmas wassail will be held at the Claude Moore Farm at Turkey Run in McLean, Va., to celebrate the winter solstice next Sunday (weather permitting) from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Guests should bring old pots to bang, bells, whistles or other noisemakers so they can join in the ritual of warding off evil spirits that threaten next year's apple crop. Participants will meet in the orchard, sing 18th-century carols and join the farm family in an apple-tree dance. Guests will also get hot cider.

Admission is $3 for adults; $1.50 for senior citizens and children ages 3 to 12. The farm is at 6310 Georgetown Pike in McLean. Call (703) 442-7557.

Country celebration

"Christmas in the Country" is the theme of the holiday celebration in Taneytown. Five private homes and one church will be open for tour today from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

One of the features of the tour is an 1800s log house, which was moved to the property by the present owners. It will be decorated in the style of the period, and an interpreter will prepare early-American food in the open hearth. Complimentary spiced tea and cookies will be served at the Taneytown Baptist )) Church, and the local garden club will have Christmas greens for sale.

Tickets cost $8 for the complete tour or $2 for an individual home. Tickets can be purchased at 65 Frederick St., (near the intersection of routes 194 and 140) or at any of the homes on the tour. Call (410) 751-1318.

Christmas pageant

The Christmas story will be told as it has been for the past six years in a four-acre field near Camp Hill, Pa., from Thursday through next Sunday.

Presented by Christ Community Church, "Pageant '93" is an outdoor production of light and sound with a 200-member cast and live animals, including goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys and three camels. Two performances are held each evening, at 6:30 and 8:30. After the pageant, the audience is invited to view the sets while characters remain in still-life poses for five minutes.

Work on this production goes on throughout the year and involves hundreds of volunteers. It is continually being refined and expanded.

The site is five miles south of Harrisburg, Pa., along U.S. Route 15 at Slate Hill Road. Admission is free. Call (717) 761-2933.

Four centuries of Delaware

"A Festive Christmas in Old New Castle" will be held Friday and Saturday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Visitors can stroll through the cobbled streets of Delaware's Colonial capital to see four centuries of holiday tradition by candlelight.

At the 17th-century Dutch House there will be treats set out for St. Nicholas, wooden shoes filled with straw, carrots for St. Nicholas' horse and three oranges, which symbolize the saint's good deeds. See a holiday dinner at the 18th-century Amstel House and open-hearth cooking demonstrations in the kitchen. Learn about pastimes of the 19th century at the George Read II House, where the back parlor is decorated for a traditional Christmas ball, card games are displayed in the front parlor and a holiday dinner of the 1920s takes place in the dining room. The Presbyterian and Immanuel churches will also be open for tour. On Friday evening there will be musical entertainment in the courthouse by the Susquehanna Consort.

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