Julie decorating the tree at Ruckley

Ruckley at Christmas with Peony’s Julie Bates


Here at QVC we love getting ready for Christmas, and that includes getting the office decorated. In preparation, we caught up with Peony founder, Julie Bates to get some inspiration and find out how she decorates the family home, Ruckley Estate, with her beautiful faux flowers…

Christmas at Ruckley is absolutely wonderful and very special to all of the family. Home is where we always spend Christmas and I don’t think my children would allow us to be anywhere else because their love and memories of past Christmases are all they can remember.

Our Christmas actually starts quite early – the Christmas tree usually goes up in early December when we have friends over for various parties and merriment. The carol service at Tong Church (our beautiful local church and where I got married) is very special and falls on the last Sunday before Christmas Day. This wonderful mini cathedral is completely candle-lit and all the family loves singing the Christmas carols there. Then it’s mulled wine and mince pies back at Ruckley by the roaring fire.

Christmas at Ruckley Drawing Room

Christmas Eve arrives and the whole family drives to my sister Vanessa’s house in Howcaple, Herefordshire. Vanessa holds the most splendid weddings at Howcaple, where her husband Roger’s family have lived since 1904. They have two children: my beautiful niece and wonderful nephew. Roger is Austrian so they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve because Christkindl (the Austrian version of Santa Claus) arrives during the evening; my sister lights up the Christmas tree (and I mean lights with candles!), then we sing Silent Night. It’s so special and quite emotional with everyone singing and holding candles.

Julie Bates decorating the Christmas treeEveryone comes to Ruckley on Christmas Day. We each have a pillowcase filled with presents to open and a glass of champagne. The fire is roaring, the candles are glowing and the Christmas music is playing. Then it’s time to cook in the kitchen, where my mother and sister (and occasionally our husbands) might help. Christmas lunch is always delicious and there is far too much (as everyone’s is) and then we start playing games. I’m sure our laughter can be heard from miles away because the games get funnier every year and we all love them.

Tips on dressing your home and how I dress Ruckley

The Christmas tree at Ruckley stands in the big hall next to the enormous open fireplace, which is always dressed with swags and a wreath – this year I’m using reds and golds – just stunning. I dress the tree with red velvet poinsettias and, of course, my beautiful roses too. I thread gold beaded strands through the tree and finish the look with beautiful glass baubles.

The table will be dressed with amaryllis heads in black cubes (available to buy in the December Peony shows), as well as low Tealight holders filled with red velvet rose petals or faux berries and a big fish bowl with roses too, again in red velvet. I like to scatter red faux petals over the table so it looks like they have just fallen from the fresh roses. I feel you can never over-dress your Christmas table and I love to do it, especially when I sit back and look at all the smiling happy faces sitting around the table on Christmas day; with the room and table lit only by candles – it’s so special.

Christmas at Ruckley dining table

As for presents – this year I would just adore a Butler & Wilson piece of jewellery – please!!!

Julie xxx


See Ruckley Estate getting ready for Christmas…


  1. Pauline Hughson December 14, 2014 at 10:43 pm -  Reply

    Absolutely Wonderful !! Happy Christmas !!

  2. Johanne Montgomery September 3, 2016 at 2:17 pm -  Reply

    Julie,I am Janet’s(Your Dad’s cousin) daughter from Australia.We met ,albeit briefly many years ago.
    I have for some time been trying to put together an Ashbourne Family Tree.
    The reason I am contacting you is because,I have hit a brick wall regarding William Frederick Ashbourne(1876-1961).
    As your Dad would have known him,I wonder if he could shed any light?
    I have the WF Ashbourne Marriage Certificate 1918,to Lilian Simpson.
    According to that,in 1918 William was a Widower.
    I won’t bore you any longer,BUT,would be most appreciative if you could forward this correspondence to your Dad.
    In anticipation of a reply.
    Johanne Montgomery.
    26 Aberdeen Rd.
    Blackburn South.

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