LIKE a time capsule from the 17th century, Chastleton House is being tenderly ‘put to bed’ for the winter.

Staff at the National Trust-owned Jacobean country house, near Chipping Norton, have been working hard to complete their annual winter clean-up of rooms, covering furniture and shutting out any sunlight, ready for the colder months.

House steward, Sebastian Conway, 29, said: “One half of the house has already been put to bed, while the other half will be decorated in the style of a Victorian Christmas and opened to visitors for the first three weekends in December.”

He added: “It’s very important that the rooms are essentially ‘frozen in time’, as Chastleton’s greatest appeal is that it is a real 17th century home, unrestored, slightly dusty and much-loved.”

Chastleton House was built between 1607 and 1612 by the prosperous Jones family (who later became the Whitmore-Jones’). But as their fortune dwindled, little in the house was changed for nearly 400 years.

Mr Conway said: “It was taken over by the National Trust in 1991 and visitors love the fact that it is a treasure trove, full of rare objects, but with no ropes or barriers.

“It’s a bit like Miss Haversham’s house in Great Expectations.

“For the staff it’s also a bit like the Forth Bridge, in that as soon as you clean one end you start again at the other. But we love it anyway.”

The house will be open on Saturday for the Chastleton Village Gift Fair, featuring lots of stalls selling local crafts and foods, from 10am to 3pm. Admission is payable by all visitors, with a suggested £2.50 donation per person.

For more information about the Deck the Halls Christmas events next month, see or call 01608 674981.

Pictures by Jon Lewis.