Is Willenhall grotto the best Christmas house ever?

With more than 300 Santas, 100 snowmen, countless baubles and miles of tinsel, it’s a grotto Father Christmas would be proud of.

Christmas crazy Hilda Creaney’s modest semi-detached house has been a festive attraction in Willenhall for years.

People go out of their way to see her Las Vegas-style lights, a kaleidoscopic blaze of Santas, reindeer, stars and bells.

And outside the front door stands a postbox which each year gets around 300 letters for Santa from local children, all of which receive a reply.

But few have seen the inside of the house in Walsall Street, which Hilda shares with her husband Harry.

For nearly six weeks every year it screams Christmas like no other.

The 70-year-old has more than 1,000 decorations up in the hallway and living room.

Santas, snowmen, penguins, angels and elves are arranged on the ceiling, walls and every flat surface, costing from 50p to £400.

Many figures are more than 3ft high and most are connected to the mains so that they light up, sing or dance when switched on.

There are also several elaborate clockwork scenes, such as a Santa’s toy factory, which Hilda’s son Carl brought home from America on his travels. The whole lot takes about three weeks to put up.

The retired social work assistant says: “I’m an electricians’ nightmare but we’ve never had a blow-out yet.

“I love Christmas and I love to see the children’s faces when they see what we’ve done here.

“The local nursery school come up to see the house and I always show them the crib in the hall and tell them that is what Christmas is really about.”

The Yuletide preparations start in the middle of November when the boxes of baubles, tinsel and other decorations are brought out of storage at a nephew’s factory.

As the outside lights go up on the front of the house, a major operation carried out by Hilda’s grandson Jamie and friends.

The interior of the family’s cosy home is transformed into a Christmas grotto with the big switch-on taking place on the last Saturday in November.

Then about 25 friends and family travel from Wales, Telford and Birmingham for a festive knees-up.

The tradition, which started nearly 40 years ago, was inspired by a Yuletide-themed picture which her three children coloured in.

Carl, now 49 and a Walsall councillor, Tracey, 47, and Dawn, 37, and their friends worked for days on the artwork.

Dad Harry was so impressed he mounted the picture in a glass-fronted box with a strip light and displayed it in the bay window.

Hilda says: “It all started from there.

“People ask whether I get depressed when it all has to come down and it’s true that I do miss the colour and seeing the children post their letters.

“But on the other hand, it’s a chance to give the house a proper clean and that makes me feel good, too.”

Comments for: "Is Willenhall grotto the best Christmas house ever?"

Jennie A

As long as it gives them pleasure, lol, but it would drive me insane.

gemma

you need to get a life then christmas is once a year its nice to see people of all ages making a affort .

Hayley M

I think they're bonkers their electric bill will be sky high but as long as they get pleasure out of it whats the harm.

Personally though I think sometimes less is more.

Dee Dee

I would not like to live next door to them (or opposite, either!)

gemma

why not ? its christmas .

gemma

what a great display more people should do the same

stuart

Why don't you then?

gemma

well i have u know what u have saw in the picture above i have 5 times the amount my garden is deced out with over 40.000 lights and ova 100 santas inside and out 15 snowmen do i need to go on i have my own christmas wonderland for my 3 children and 2 step children, merry christmas

Grandad Wolfie

Bah flipping humbug ! I think somebody needs a Christmas hug or an injection of Christmas spirit. It clearly does a lot of good, is enjoyed by many and shows that there are still some people left in the world who have the ability to give just for the goodness of their fellow man.

Lou

It is NOT Walsall, it is in Willenhall. This family have brought much joy to the children and good folk of Willenhall; years before the craze for turning houses in to grottoes started. They are well known for their charitable acts and support for the community. Please do not strip Willenhall of its identity in your news articles; it is a town in its own right which happens to be run (down) by Walsall Council.

babs

Ive know Harry and Hilda for years, they are a wonderful couple who would do anything for anyone, there christmas decorations bring a smile to everybodys face and the letters to santa are always replied to, I hope they carry on for many years to come, lovely people x

Lou

Many thanks for acknowledging my above comments and changing the title even to Willenhall. Fantastic! :)

Todd Nash

No problem, thanks for the comment Lou.

Ebenezer

What a light poluting Mess Lights can tastefully be displayed Merry christmas Ba humbug .

pete

O.K. Don't beat me up here, but I don't know how they afford the electric bills especially as they increase every other week especially as they are pensioners (if they are) sorry if not, hang on however if it makes them and local children happy then good luck to them !

Roy

Fabulous, it's great to see folks bringing a smile to the local people in these grim economics times.

As for their electricity bill they probably save using low volltage lighting rather than their normal lights and surely they wouldn't need to heat the house with all that cotton wool insulating the place.

dean mills

I think it all looks brill. hilda and harry you'v bought christmas to willenhall. your son carl says you'v always been a bit crazy tho. hahaha ( p.s. i work with carl. lol ).

gemma

pensioners dnt get much out of life these days and by putting up a few lights makes them happy so be it .

michaela ions

grew up with this being part of my childhood christmas, loved walking past it every day as a child going to and from school

thank you for making christmas magical

Sandy

Wow, I love it. would love to be able to go through this. Its awesome, Thankyou to the couple who go and do this year after year, you certainly know how to live the Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas from New Zealand.

dj

i have knows Hilda for a long time an she is a fab lady only new about this just an think its fab Christmas is not like it use to be an i think there should be more people out there that should decorate there house after all its for the kids but how meany people out there say Santa is real to the children i know i do a lil bit of hope goes a long way an i got to say fare play to them all the house looks well good an very much Christmas like