An Edwardian Christmas

It was a time before television, plastic toys and supermarkets, and yet it was the kind of Christmas we so often see depicted on our Christmas cards.

DD/G/647 - Christmas card c1905

DD/G/647 - Christmas card from our Glyndwr collection, c1905

Affluent Edwardian families during the first decade of the last century enjoyed an elegant festive season packed with many of the traditions we enjoy today.  John Sainsbury had just opened his first shop, but there was no trip to the supermarket for festive food, instead a multitude of shops were used, butchers, grocers, bakers, spice merchants; the well to do would not have deigned to pick up a shopping basket, and would instead have sent their household staff or had it delivered.

Delicacies of the Edwardian table included boar’s head and sheep’s tongues; goose was far more common than turkey.  Christmas cakes and plum puddings would have been made several weeks in advance, and then stored to mature as recommended by the well known cookery author Mrs Beeton.

Christmas trees were popular, having been introduced to England by Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert.  The penny post was also introduced in Victorian times, and sending and receiving cards was popular.

Many gifts were hand made, embroidered handkerchiefs and samplers, home made peppermints or sugared almonds wrapped in hand decorated paper.  The luckiest children got a Dutch doll, a doll’s house, or a new gift which was gaining tremendous popularity at the time, a teddy bear. Popular bears were made by the German company Steiff, and are collectors’ items today.  In a poor child’s Christmas stocking an apple, orange and some nuts would usually be found.

In the absence of televisions or computer games, friends and family gathered in the parlour to play games such as charades and blind man’s buff, or to sing carols and popular songs gathered around the piano.

Why not come along today, and view our current exhibition ‘An Edwardian Christmas’!

Information about our holdings is available on

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