THE Yorke family, who called the magnificent house at Erddig home seemingly never threw anything away and today the residence has a unique collection ranging from the rare and magnificent to the ordinary and everyday: indeed, one of the conditions that the last Squire, Philip S. Yorke (1905–1978) imposed on handing over the house and estate to the National Trust in 1973 was that nothing was to be removed from the house.

Among the estimated 30,000 items are dozens of toys which staff at Erddig have now brought to life this Christmas by choosing some of their favourites from the historic collection and commissioning an award-winning photographer to help create an exciting new outdoor exhibition. Set in the house's12.5-acre walled garden, the trail takes visitors through the land of wonder created by two of the Yorke boys who would one day become the last Squires of Erddig.

“There’s something magical about playtime," says Erddig's visitor experience manager, Anne Kurdock, as she shows me around the grounds. "To be able to bring the toys back out into the garden where they were first enjoyed more than 100 years ago is a very special opportunity."

Erddig garden is where the last two brothers in the family, Simon Yorke IV and Philip Yorke III often used to bring their cherished monkeys, elephants, carts and teddies with photographs from the early 20th century showing the boys playing with each toy along the trail.

"To be able to envision that magical world that they created exactly where you are standing is for me is wonderful," says Anne. "Whether your garden is huge like this or much smaller the same themes and ideas ring true and you use your garden to create that world in your imagination.

"In a world where there is so much emphasis on technology, I hope that families enjoy a little nostalgia as they step away from the modern stresses and strains at this time of year and enjoy special time together and a closer look at our traditional toys."

Each item is linked to an historic photograph or story, like the doll’s house which had its windows destroyed during a tantrum by Simon when, as a small boy he was punished and excluded from a shopping trip to Chester. After he broke the windows, he pulled out the king and queen and threw them on the fire.

"It's unique the way the family kept everything for generations," says Jo Hodgson, house steward at Erddig. "We've got everything from the very ordinary to the outstanding so the variety in the collection and the fact they hung onto everything is remarkable.

"The toys themselves were cherished and played with: you can see marks where the teddy bears have been dressed up, things are worn and missing and perhaps an eye or two are gone on some of the toys so they were obviously well loved.

"I've become very attached to many of the toys and we look after everything as if it was our own. It was really nice getting some of things out again - a lot of the collection is usually on show throughout the summer season but some were in storage and I hadn't seen them before so it was really nice to be able to discover some new things."

Graeme Cooper, is the photographer whose broad range of clients include Friends of the Earth, The Whitworth Art Gallery and many major fashion brands, and has helped to create the new outdoor photographic exhibition at the National Trust property.

“I’ve worked in many different locations around the world, but there is something quite fascinating about this Welsh stately home," he says. "I’m naturally drawn to the servants’ quarters owing to a family heritage in tenant farming and was pleased to see the toys that were hand-made by Erddig’s servants alongside the more sophisticated toys in the collection.

“Much of my cultural work is showcased indoors, so it’s wonderful to bring the museum collection outdoors and see my work displayed in an eighteenth century garden. The Victorians certainly had a different approach to health and safety though, looking at the roller skates and child’s Penny Farthing!"

This Christmas also sees Erddig teaming up with the Trussell Trust and Wrexham foodbank for the fourth time by encouraging visitors to enjoy the gift of giving and leave a donation for the local food bank at a ‘reverse grotto'. The Trussell Trust has a network of 37 foodbanks in Wales and supplies food parcels to those in need referred to them through local agencies.

"Last year we collected over 480 kilogrammes of food and the whole community really gets behind the campaign," adds Anne. "Seeing the children who visit understand that Christmas can be about giving as well as receiving is absolutely lovely.

"We've enjoyed this year so much at Erddig and I think we've gone from strength whether it's being featured on The Secrets of the Natural Trust TV programme or welcoming over 5,000 people in one day for the filming of Antiques Roadshow it has been an amazing year."

For more information on opening times please go to