Mystery behind Santa discovery in Doncaster

29 Nov 2016...Curators Eleanor Matthews with a plaster figurine of Santa which has been discovered at Brodsworth Hall. There is suggestion that he was brought back from a Christmas trip to Germany or Holland by the Grant-Dalton family, the previous owners of the house, in the 1950's  as he looks like, the Belsnickle or Pelze Nichol, which are characters popular  in those countries. Picture Scott Merrylees
29 Nov 2016...Curators Eleanor Matthews with a plaster figurine of Santa which has been discovered at Brodsworth Hall. There is suggestion that he was brought back from a Christmas trip to Germany or Holland by the Grant-Dalton family, the previous owners of the house, in the 1950's as he looks like, the Belsnickle or Pelze Nichol, which are characters popular in those countries. Picture Scott Merrylees

The mystery of a forgotten Santa Claus is intriguing workers at Brodsworth Hall, where he was first discovered in 1990.

Packaged up and tucked away since he was found on the landing of the Hall, when it changed hands to English Heritage, the historic plaster figurine is thought to date back to the 1950s.

If anyone, seeing the pictures, feels they do know his story, then everyone at Brodsworth would love to know...

Very little is known about him so far, but staff speculate that he may be a holiday souvenir of the Grant-Dalton family, the previous owners of the house.

He may have been bought during a trip to Germany or Holland as he resembles the Belsnickle’ or ‘Pelze Nichol’, who are popular characters there. They are depicted holding a branch in one hand and a basket in the other. Traditionally good children were given gifts from the basket, and bad boys and girls received twigs or branches.

Another Belsnickle characteristic is that he always looks solemn or grumpy – as this one does.

The figure was uncovered again, in this run up to Christmas, during an English Heritage storage project in Helmsley.

Eleanor Matthews, Assistant Collections Curator at Brodsworth Hall, said: “We’re unsure of where he came from originally but think that he may have been a gift or holiday souvenir and we have wondered if there may be members of the local public who might know more about his origins.

“It is our hope that one day he may be conserved and restored to his former glory. Being made of many different materials like plaster, papier-mache and fur-trimmed cloth, he would be a fascinating conservation challenge, perhaps for a student.”

The timely find has excited staff at the hall who are busy preparing for the start of its Enchanted Christmas Gardens. This year they will become a winter wonderland with illuminated trails and trees, canopies and iconic garden features brought to life with stunning lighting.