MAGICAL Christmas stories are to be told in the atmospheric surroundings of a 580-year-old historic North Yorkshire home.

Shandy Hall, at Coxwold, near Thirsk, is to hold a free storytelling evening for children on Thursday, December 13 and Friday, December 14.

The stories will be told from a fireside armchair in the home, where two storytellers will bring to life Tales of Five Hundred Winters.

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There will be tales of how people used to celebrate Christmas, as well as local folklore and legends. The house will be decorated with traditional Christmas decorations, candles and log fires.

Shandy Hall was the former home of Laurence Sterne, author of the Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Each year the house is opened in the run up to Christmas for tours by candlelight.

This year the Laurence Sterne Trust has teamed up with the North York Moors National Park Authority to tailor some events for families.

The event is part of the Lime and Ice project which was awarded just under £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2008 to deliver new access, interpretation and conservation initiatives in the southwest corner of the North York Moors National Park.

The event runs from 6pm until 7.30pm. Advance booking is necessary and spaces are allocated on a first come, first served basis by calling Nick Lishman or Jennifer Smith on 01439-772700 at the North York Moors National Park Authority.