Bayleaf farmhouse's Christmas table

The Museum at Christmas

Historically, Christmas was a time when fires were lit and food eaten more extravagantly than during the rest of the year. Advent was a time of fasting and abstinence, and Christmas celebrations did not start until after church on Christmas Day, after which they lasted for 12 days.

A historic and festive treat awaits visitors to the Museum from Boxing Day to Monday 28 December. The Museum’s traditionally decorated houses will reflect the spirit of Christmas through the ages, including:

In 15th century Bayleaf farmhouse:  see the table laid for a yeoman farmer’s Christmas with traditional greenery decorations.  The spinning wheel is also decorated, symbolising no work at Christmas.

Winkhurst Tudor kitchen: mincemeat pies and enriched bread will be baked in the bread oven, and tastings will be available as each bake is completed. Sweetmeat and flavoured mead tasters will be on offer in the adjoining Winkhurst Hall.

In 17th century Pendean farmhouse:  decorated with traditional greenery, watch the yule log burning and see the table laid as if a Stuart Christmas meal has just been finished.

Whittaker’s cottages:  see the Christmas table laid for a large Victorian family, just about to start on their “figgy pudding”. A very simple celebration, as they would only have had one day off.

Christmas is a wonderful time to visit the Museum and view our collection of houses, which have been decorated to reflect how this special time of year has been celebrated by our ancestors over the centuries. Enjoy a warm Christmas welcome in the Medieval House from North Cray, with a roaring log fire and traditional greenery decorations. Our volunteers will be serving spiced ale or apple juice and cheese straws. Hot chestnuts will be for sale (£1 a bag) from the Medieval Shop from Horsham in the Market Square.

The Museum is open daily throughout the winter until 22 December and open for The Museum at Christmas’ from Boxing Day 26 to Monday 28 December 2015. The Museum is open daily during the festive season until 1 January 2016.