Previous Exhibitions and Talks
The Butler’s Christmas
After being introduced by Margaret Rogers, Bob France dressed as a Victorian butler, entertained a large audience on the evening of 19th November 2018 with an amusing and informative talk on “The Butler’s Christmas”, comparing a Georgian and Victorian Christmas in grand homes such as Petworth. The audience was first reminded of the ancient history of Christmas, with the Roman midwinter feasts of Saturnalia and the banning of Christmas altogether in the Puritan era, with churches being closed and celebrations banned.
Christmas changed in the Georgian era, 1790-1820, although there was no holiday for Christmas day – only the rich celebrated with balls and suppers, the lower classes continued working. Bob presented colourful images of Georgian paintings of Christmas featuring elegantly dressed courtiers at extravagant balls, but surprisingly there were no children in the portraits. However, there were decorated trees, evergreens, mistletoe and ivy, people singing carols and playing games like snapdragon.
The Victorian Christmas images were more elaborate with cards, trees, paper-chains holly and ivy, open fires surrounded by gifts and of course Santa Claus - Santa’s sleigh was a later American creation. In Victorian times children became the centre of the celebrations and on Boxing Day money was given to the poor. Many of these traditions are now part of our modern day Christmas.