Queen Elizabeth II
By Donald McKague
Bromide print, December 1958 (published April 1959)
The Christmas Truce of 1914
In the week before Christmas 1914, the attitude in the trenches was very different to the usual trench misery that is usually associated with the Western Front. There was a series of unofficial ceasefires and occasions of soldiers singing carols across to each other. By Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, soldiers were crossing No Man’s Land to exchange small gifts and food with one another. They also became friendly enough to play football matches with each other. In all, about 100,000 British and German soldiers took part in these unsanctioned truces.
The truce did not take place everywhere on the Front, with some sections still fighting on Christmas Day and others only agreeing to stop fighting to recover the dead, but they were relatively widespread. Some truces lasted until New Years Day, whilst others merely lasted through Christmas night. When the high command of both sides heard about the truces, they prohibited such fraternisation in future. Despite this, some truces took place in 1915, however not nearly as many. There is evidence that the soldiers were unhappy with this ban on truces and many tried to disobey and start football matches and gift swapping once more, but most were ordered back on threat of punishment. There is a record that the German soldiers continued to try and start truces, as the British soldiers were being forced to continue fighting. Adolf Hitler, fighting at this time, was apparently opposed to the truces. With the escalation of violence at the Somme and the use of poison gas in 1916, meant that the truces were mostly over by this Christmas.
This teapot was made in Stafforshire in 1761. This item was probably made to commemorate the marriage of George III and Queen Charlotte in that year. The green spout and handle are designed to look like leaves, while the centre of the teapot depicts George III and his wife Queen Charlotte. They are sat in front of a pink alter with two cherubs and an angel holding a laurel wreath above their heads. The lid of the teapot uses a blue flower, with cherubs around it in the design.
A Brief History of Christmas Puddings
Christmas Puddings are traditionally a kind of plum or raisin pudding, and have been eaten at Christmas since the medieval period, from around the 1420’s. The puddings have varied over time, with different ingredients used and the current version was only settled upon in the Victorian era. Since then it has contained fruits and sugar and spices amongst other things. The Christmas pudding became massively popular in the 1700’s, when George I requested it be served at his Christmas feast.
The Barbor Jewel
This jewel is made of gold and set with rubies and diamonds, as well as being hung with pearls. It was made in England and on one side contains a cameo of Elizabeth I. Barbor family tradition suggests that this jewel was made to commemorate William Barbor having escaped execution for his Protestantism with Elizabeth I’s accession. However William died in 1586 and Elizabeth I in 1603 and the style of the jewel suggests that it wasn’t made until sometime between 1615 - 1625.
Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV
By John Cochran, after Fanny Corbaux
Stipple engraving, 1820s-1830s
Places to Visit - Christmas - Osborne House
Osborne House was bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and was redesinged by Prince Albert between 1845 and 1851. For December and the Christmas period, Osborne House creates the experience of a traditional Victorian Christmas, with the rooms being festively decorated. There are games and Victorian carols, as well theatre performances of Christmas stories. There’s also a traditional Father Christmas and Queen Victoria to meet.
Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I
By Anthony Van Dyck
Oil on canvas