The Museum of the Home in East London has decorated its collection of display living rooms with the Christmas of centuries past.

Walk along the display and see how Christmas has changed from Tudor times to modern days. It’s a reminder to use that so many of our cherished traditions are often very new and that the past did things very differently, and that’s if they did them at all. It’s a long-running tradition at the museum to decorate the rooms for Christmas, but it’s done slightly differently now, with stories about the families who lived in the houses added to the displays.

Midwinter in 1630

An afternoon at the Frost Fair in 1683

Sephardi Hanukkah in 1745

Boxing Day in 1790

Twelfth Night in 1830

Christmas in 1881

Christmas Eve in 1913

Christmas Day in 1937

Christmas in 1978

Nutkhut’s British Indian Sitting Room in 1987

Winter Solstice in 1992

Each of the rooms has a display board telling the story of the family that lives in the house. Now I am not totally sure, but I don’t recall that happening when this was the Geffrye Museum, and the detail in the stories are either based on historic letters in the archives, or are they invented?

Did the Cookesbury family play football on the ice at the Frost Fair? Did the Woodruffle children attend a fancy dress party on 5th Jan 1830? Did the Wilton family write in their diary about how their baby cried when the children were decorating the tree?

That’s accentuated by how some of the rooms have changed this year – such as the upmarket yuppie warehouse flat now being a housing association flat, which feels very odd, not to mention, luxurious for a housing association.
If these are real people and real stories from the archives, I’d have liked to see the heritage documents (or copies) on display as well, so that the stories have a strong and tangible connection to the past.

Otherwise, it’s a bit awkward.

The exhibition, Christmas Past is at the Museum of the Home until 8th January 2023, and is free to visit.


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  1. Lisa Hirsch says:

    I don’t recall family stories from the Geoffrey, which I visited in 2014.

  2. Margaret Shea says:

    I visited TGM many times in the past there were living rooms pre Victorian up to present times. Presented beautifully with care /details of fabrics/furnishings lifestyle. But not personalised so without specific p/work to support exhibits it’s MOH being creative. Another project was photographic images of families homes with details and ID telling their stories about their homes.

  3. Roslyn says:

    I so agree about these stories and ok, it needed some updating from the Geffrye days but we found too politically correct and the whole place last week was very quiet and bleak. Disappointing.

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