We visited Hampton National Historic Site in December for their Holidays at Hampton event. It’s located in Towson, Maryland, not far from Baltimore. We’ve toured the mansion in the daytime before, so we were curious how different it would be in the evening. The daytime festivities held earlier in the day included arts and crafts (like making a cranberry and popcorn garland), a tour of the lower farm, and learning about traditions of those who were enslaved there, as well as 7 generations of those who lived at Hampton. While we missed those, we were still able to enjoy the evening fun.
We made it to Hampton right before dusk and I was able to take some photos of the simple holiday greenery added to the outside of the Mansion, as well as some photos of the grounds surrounding it. There weren’t any flowers like on our previous visit, but the property was still pretty because you could see the designs in the garden. While waiting for the mansion to open its doors, we headed to the gift shop. From Hampton’s own brand of tea and chocolate, to hand-dipped candles and lye soap made like they were long ago, to corn husk dolls and other gifts that would have been given during the time Hampton was in its prime, they had relevant items and a little something for everyone.. They also have some modern gifts you might expect in a gift shop like stationery, games, and children’s books.
Outside of the gift shop they had a tent set up so people could stay out of the cold while waiting for the shuttle to the mansion. Since it was just a short walk to the mansion from the gift shop, we walked and saved the bus space for those who had difficulty walking or didn’t want to be in the cold. There were a couple of ladies setting up hot cider and cookies in the tent for visitors to help themselves to while waiting, and we even got a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who were dressed more traditionally than the modern Santa in the famous red suit we’ve come to know. This Santa had a long, deep green robe with furry white edges and a red hat. Mrs. Claus wore red and had fur adorning the edges.
We headed up to the mansion and were some of the first to arrive. It was dark and mostly lit by candlelight. As many times as we’ve visited Hampton, I’ve never pictured it as it would have been in the evening since we’ve always gone during the daytime. It makes you think about how dark, cold, and long winters would have been even though they had fireplaces and were well-off. You could certainly still appreciate the beauty of every room, though. There weren’t as many holiday decorations as I expected, but this mansion isn’t really over-the-top anyway, so it worked. There were guides in each room telling you history about each room and the house, and we always hear a new story every time we visit. These photos were taken with my phone in dark rooms, so I apologize they’re a little blurry but I lightened them as much as I could.
The absolute best part was listening to the ConneXions High School Choir. They were performing in the Great Hall while people toured. I think every single person stopped to listen to them. They brought tears to my eyes and I had to walk away a couple of times. Their voices were incredible! They sounded like angels and were all dressed nicely and focused on their singing. Here is a photo of some members getting warmed up while waiting for the rest of the choir to join them. The young ladies wore beautiful black gowns and the young men wore black tuxedos and bow-ties. Great job, ConneXions High School Choir!
If you’ll be in the area next Christmas, make time to visit Hampton National Historic Site during their Holidays at Hampton event. It won’t be as busy as other places are during the holiday season, and learning about history is never a wasted trip.
Click here to read my other post about Hampton National Historic Site: https://www.caffeinatedslothblog.com/hampton-national-historic-site-mansion/
You can learn more about the experiences of those who were enslaved at Hampton, the Ridgely’s family history, and plan your visit at: https://www.nps.gov/hamp/index.htm