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Merry Christmas... Georgian style!

Merry Christmas... Georgian style!

Saturday 25 December 2021

Merry Christmas... Georgian style!

Saturday 25 December 2021

For the past decade, 16 New Street has been taking islanders and visitors back into Georgian times.

Renovated thanks to a £1m bequest from the late Mollie Houston, the ‘Georgian House’ celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021 with a calendar of activities celebrating all things Georgian.

As the team prepared for yet another nostalgic Christmas, Museums and Collections Manager Catherine Ward lifted the veil on the work that goes behind the scenes...

How do you keep the Georgian flair alive?

We research things and we make everything in house. Our volunteers all have different skills. For the 10th anniversary, I wanted to do something special, so I thought it would be really nice to have different themes in the kitchen, that we could repeat in other rooms. 

Our volunteers created a new display of museum grade food in the dining room for the ‘Gourmet Georgians’. For the ‘Gorgeous Georgians’, which was all about fashion and make-up, we researched traditional recipes for making powder, toothpaste, or beauty spots and Jo Fancourt created traditional Georgian underwear.

For the ‘Gruesome Georgians’, the cooks created a ‘coffin pie’, which is a pastry case that protects the contents from getting mouldy, with body part biscuits.

How many volunteers are involved?

We have 50 volunteers who are there regularly, and all have different skills. Some are ex teachers who help out for school visits, others help decorating for Christmas. 

I look after the Mill and 16 New Street and one of the nicest things about my role is that it is a very hands-on role. We have got a really lovely team. It’s a real team effort. It’s such a happy place. 

They all dress up when we have the candlelit tours. They are all really into the Georgian era and we always try to make things really immersive. 

There’s a real sense of fun and of working together as a team, sharing ideas and actually acting on them. There’s always something different that keeps you on your toes and keeps the house alive.

What does a Georgian Christmas look like? 

All the things we associate with Christmas were introduced by the Victorians.

The Victorian Club Room is decorated like it would have been then, but we don’t know whether the Georgians decorated all rooms of the house, so we take a little bit of artistic licence. We use mostly greenery taken form the Trust’s land, holly, ivy, green oak and laurel

We want to create a real nostalgic setting for people who come to visit the house.

This article first appeared in the Dec/Jan edition of Connect, which you can read HERE. 

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