Community News

The Museum at Christmas: Celebrations Through the Ages

By 17 December 2015January 25th, 2021No Comments

From Tudor to Victorian times, a historic festive treat awaits visitors to the Museum from Boxing Day to Monday 28 December when the Museum’s traditionally decorated houses will reflect the spirit of Christmas through the ages.

The 15th century Bayleaf farmhouse

Bayleaf farmhouse will play host to traditional greenery decorations and a table laid with a Tudor feast. The spinning wheel is also decorated, which symbolises no work at Christmas.

If you are lucky, you may get a taster of real mincemeat pies, sweetmeats and “lambswool” – a warm drink of spiced ale with apples – which will be prepared in the adjacent Winkhurst Tudor kitchen.

The 17th century Pendean farmhouse

The Christmas season in this period was a time of year when poorer folk would be extravagant with their firewood supply. Just as we are careful with our electricity or oil supplies, so were people with their firewood supplies in earlier times.

However, Christmas was a time in the middle of the long winter season to light fires and to celebrate, and you will see roaring fires in many of our houses. In Pendean farmhouse a yule log will be burning in the hearth.

The mid-17th century Poplar Cottage

In Poplar Cottage, we have marked the year 1647 when the celebration of Christmas was banned by law under the Puritan rule of Oliver Cromwell – come and find out more about that time and what it meant to the ordinary folk who would have been living in the cottage at the time.

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Facsimiles of the posters (such as the one above) reflecting the Royalist protests at the abolition of Christmas in 1647 will be available for guests to view.

Toll House from Upper Beeding

The Toll House table will be laid for Christmas tea in the late Georgian era: tea drinking became popular at the very beginning of the 19th century when the tax on tea was reduced.

Whittaker’s Cottages

Visitors to Whittaker’s Cottages will be able to 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, as well as 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.

We hope that you can join us at this wonderful time of year.