SIX theatrical Christmas trees are taking centre stage at National Trust’s Chirk Castle this festive season, inspired by original 1920s pantomime scripts and photographs belonging to the castle’s former residents.

While a trip to the local theatre to enjoy a pantomime is a Christmas tradition for many families in Wales today, for the De Walden family, who lived at the castle between 1911 and 1946, lavish performances at home were the custom.

Father of six and one of the richest men in the realm, Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, eighth Lord Howard de Walden, wrote six pantomimes based on popular tales, which were performed by his family and close friends at the castle from 1923 to 1931.

These original scripts and photographs were unearthed from the archives by the Trust and to celebrate the collection, the conservation charity will bring the pantomimes back to life through a series of bespoke Christmas trees, each adorned with handmade decorations that depict the family’s favourite pantos, from Puss in Brutes to Beauty and the Beasts.

A dedicated team of staff and volunteers have spent hundreds of hours hand-making decorations, costumes and props for a Christmas of Make-Believe, which visitors can experience now until January 5.

Thomas Seymour, the grandson of Lord Howard de Walden, said: "It was 1922 and the children wanted to act. My grandmother Margherita had six children under the age of ten with her husband Tommy so there were plenty of roles to be played.

“Over eight years, Tommy wrote six pantomimes with parts for all the family and friends. These were humorous adaptations of popular fairy tales, garnished with puns and wordplay, ridicule, slapstick and literary allusion.”

The family played many of the parts and brought in close friends and renowned designers such as costumier, Bruce Winston to bring the stories to life through flamboyant costume and sets.

The productions were put on after Christmas and located at the end of the Long Gallery, with the King's bedroom serving as the Green Room.

Jon Hignett, the National Trust’s visitor experience manager at Chirk Castle, said: “Our special places are coming to life this Christmas as we celebrate traditions old and new through a series of magical tree trails and enchanting displays across Wales.

“From Chirk Castle’s pantomime-inspired Christmas to Dinefwr’s natural festivities, there are hundreds of handmade decorations to enjoy, each offering a glimpse into our places’ past and present-day tales. As well as making memories, by visiting us this festive season, you are also helping to protect historic buildings, gardens and outdoor spaces for the future.”