In a bid to boost my inner festive spirit, this weekend I decided to immerse myself in the traditions of the season at the wonderful annual exhibition held at the Geffrye museum, close to my London home. Christmas Past provides an intriguing insight into how the nation has celebrated over the past 400 years from feasting, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe to playing parlour games and throwing cocktail parties.
The museum is housed inside Grade l-listed almshouses built for the Ironmongers Company and offers a series of authentically furnished domestic interiors. Each room is currently decked out in the festive finery of its period, and you can step back in time from the 17th century to the present day. I loved the simplicity of this 1630 hall where the table is set for a New Year’s Day feast including sweets made in the shape of bacon and eggs and walnuts, and a chequerboard of gilded and white leach, a dish similar to Turkish delight made of a boiled milk jelly. The wonderful array of decorations includes some beautiful originals, such as these Edwardian paper crackers…
…and colourful 1930s Christmas tree baubles made of glass.
As well as candlelit concerts, Christmas readings and music (not to mention Twelfth Night celebrations in the garden with traditional burning of the holly and the ivy), there are also practical workshops on creating festive decorations with fresh greenery. I left feeling decidedly more Christmassy and full of ideas for decorating my own home