Nestled in sunny South Devon, Orestone Manor Country Hotel has been promoting itself as the birthplace of the Christmas card, giving away luxury packs of cards free to all guests staying or enjoying dining at the hotel in the run up to Christmas.
The hotel has been promoting the UK’s Christmas card heritage using it as a draw to stay in the hotel. Its publicity material explains how, in 1843 a batch of 1000 Christmas cards were designed for Sir Henry Cole (namesake of The Henries awards), by Sir John Callcott Horsley, founder of Orestone Manor and brother-in-Law of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Nowadays less than 20 of the original cards are in existence, including one in the V&A, another owned by the Royal Mail – and one is owned by PG/PG Buzz co-owner, Jakki Brown.
The cards have fetched £25,000+ at auction in recent years.
To celebrate the birthplace of the Christmas card, the family-owners have designed a modern day Christmas card based closely on John Calcott Horsley’s original design, which carries interesting information about the story of the first Christmas card inside.
Neil D’Allen, family co-owner of Orestone Manor said, “My wife and I were brought up with the whole process of sending and receiving Christmas cards, seeing them displayed on the sideboard with their kind, well-wishing messages. Nowadays, the world finds it so much easier to send a text, instant message or Skype and while we believe technology is a wonderful thing, there’s something incredibly special and meaningful about receiving a Christmas card in the post, especially one modelled on the very first Christmas card that was designed at Orestone Manor by the historic building’s founder, Sir John Calcott Horsley.”