Tucked away in a row of 18th century almshouses just behind Hoxton Overground station, the Geffrye Museum of the Home is one of London’s real hidden gems. Examining the homes of the urban middle classes over the last four hundred years, the museum is divided up into a number of different ‘living rooms’ which each represent – and are decorated in the style of – a different time period.
At this time of the year, every room is decorated for Christmas, in the fashion of the period and utilising the kind of materials that would have been put to use by the imagined residents of each room during their seasonal celebrations. The effect is both lovely and surprising, and it is fascinating to see how the celebration of Christmas has changed – for one part of society at least.
I was particularly struck by the mid-19th century drawing room, part of which you can see in the photo above. The tree has that real Victorian Christmas look about it (note the real candles and the basket of sweets, both of which were essential Victorian tree decorations). I also loved the neat little touch of placing festive sheet music on the piano stand, almost as if this family had just finished a chorus or two of a seasonal sing-song…
The Christmas Past exhibition at the Geffrye Museum runs until Sunday 6th January 2013 (apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day). Entrance to the museum is free, and it is well worth a visit at any time of year.