Belle Grove holidays take on a global theme

Sue Cobb, left, and Jeane Eastham, right, both members of Valley Garden Club in Front Royal, decorate the foyer inside Belle Grove mansion in Middletown on Wednesday. Area garden clubs decorated rooms in the mansion, with each creating decorations for the "Christmas Around the World" theme. Rich Cooley/Daily

Belle Grove Plantation will be showing off its uniquely crafted holiday decorations to the theme of “Christmas Around the World” during tours through most of the month of December.

Executive Director Kristen Laise said the country themes for the Manor House rooms were given to area  garden clubs. Each room of the house features organic decorations representing different countries from England and Germany – both heritage countries for the historical resident Hite family – to Chile and Thailand.

Laise said some of the country choices came from gardening club members who have ties with those countries through family members or memories from trips and vacations.

“I know it’s a longtime tradition for the garden clubs and they’re so creative every year … it’s such a surprise to see what they do,” Laise said.

The clubs use a variety of natural elements to create their décor. For example, Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener’s Association created Russian nesting dolls by painting gourds.

The dining room inside Belle Grove mansion reflects a Thailand theme decorated by the Colonial Garden Club. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We love featuring any kind of natural element – we’re still a farm so it’s a big part of what we do,” Laise said.

While Laise said that Belle Grove hasn’t necessarily included a focus on global topics during their holiday tours, the theme still reflects the Hites’ heritage and has a definite modern application.

“It just was a way we hoped to help with some creative inspiration and also acknowledge that the valley is still a place of immigration,” she said.

The plantation will conduct its normal tours as scheduled with the holiday trimmings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and self-guided tours of a candlelit manor house from 4-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. After their tour, visitors can visit the museum shop to pick up a distinct Christmas gift or enjoy tea and cookies in the Winter Kitchen on the weekends.

Those visiting during the weekends will also be serenaded by holiday music through the talents of various musicians playing at different times and days. On Sundays, kids can listen in as Donna Hughes, Bowman Library’s youth services division head, reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “The Polar Express,” or sing along to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Unlike some other holiday activities, Laise said the holiday-themed tours will open back up the day after Christmas and last until Dec. 30. This way, she said, families can bring their guests that are staying after the holiday.

“We just love seeing people, seeing families and being a part of their holiday tradition,” she said.


• Dec. 4-23 and 26-30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays at Belle Grove Plantation, 336 Belle Grove Road in Middletown.

• General admission is $12; $11 for seniors and members of AAA, the National Park Service and the military; and $6 for students and National Trust for Historic Preservation members.

• Contact Belle Grove at 540-869-2028.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com