Temple Newsam House
Curator Leila Prescott puts the finishing touches to the tree in Temple Newsam House's great hall.
Nestling under the tree or carefully placed inside a stocking, they were the must-have toys and games which delighted generations of eager Leeds children on Christmas morning.

The nostalgic collection of festive favourites has been brought together for the first time at Temple Newsam House and includes some of the most popular and sought-after presents that have topped a century of Christmas lists and letters to Santa.

The display, entitled Christmas Past, is a new addition to the mansion’s spectacular Christmas programme, which gives visitors a taste of how seasonal celebrations have evolved over the last 500 years.

Among the charming exhibits on the show is a beautiful painted Victorian rocking horse, a dainty, porcelain dolls tea set from the 1930s, a classic Action Man from the early 1970s and some colourful 70s Stickle Bricks.

They are displayed along with vintage games including a 19th-century table top nine pins, a game of snakes and ladders from the 1930s and an edition of The Six Million Dollar Man’s Bionic Crisis, based on the iconic 70s TV series starring Lee Majors.

Also featured are an impressive collection of traditional model cars and trains from the 1920s, 30s and 60s.

Leila Prescott, a curator at Temple Newsam said: “Toys and games have always played a central role in Christmas for children and families and it’s been wonderful to see this collection come together and to think about some of the stories behind every exhibit.

“Each of these toys will have meant something special to their owner, each has been collected or played with over different generations and they will all have happy memories attached to them.

“For our visitors enjoying the house over the festive season, we hope they’ll provoke some nostalgia too and take them back to the excitement of their own Christmas mornings.”

Temple Newsam’s Christmas events run until December 23 and have seen the mansion brought to life with a stunning array of traditional decorations.

Visitors can see an authentic Tudor Christmas banquet in the Bretton Room, learn how preparations for the big day took place in a Victorian kitchen display in the Still room and see a how a Georgian dining table was laid out in the Picture Gallery.

Younger visitors can also open an advent calendar window or make a Christmas bauble to take home in the Great Hall, add a Christmas wish to the tree in the Picture Gallery or help Arthur the elf by taking part in the Temple Newsam Quest to hunt down presents.

And Father Christmas will be visiting the house each day from 1pm until 4pm. Pre-booked timed slots are also available and there is an additional charge of £5.

A number of live performances will also be taking place at the house each weekend starting with the Merry Citie Singers from Wakefield, Arbeau dance group, Garforth Choir and Garforth String Ensemble this Saturday.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Christmas is a time of year which sees some of the city’s most historic locations completely transformed by a spectacular array of imaginative event and activities.

“It’s always wonderful to see thousands of families enjoying their local heritage as they come together to get into the Christmas spirit.”

For more details about what’s on at Temple Newsam, please visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries