Sunday 18 December 2016

Here Comes Advent - Week Four

These past four weeks have sped by!   Time for the last Advent post and then we have a whole week until Christmas itself.  

As I mentioned at the end of the last post, Christmas is all about tradition so when we sneak a look at what is happening in the big Walmer Victorian house, things do not in fact change too much from year to year.

But perhaps this year we are looking from a slightly different time perspective ....

The preparations on Christmas Eve are of course all-important.

In the dining room, Kitty is polishing the table..... 

...the silverware is ready for cleaning......

..and in the kitchen Cook is refreshing her memory of the family's favourite trifle.

In the school-room, a last minute practice is going on to make sure the carol accompaniment is perfect.  Someone will have to move that desk!

Charlotte is busy tidying the nursery - she is feeling slightly guilty because this year she is to be promoted from nursery tea.

The stockings are hanging in place on the drawing room mantelpiece.... 

...and in Baby's room, Nanny has made sure that he too has a stocking.   She has freshly washed his very best garment, crocheted by the family's friend, Mrs Randall.....

Time shift to Christmas Day and things are well under way in the kitchen - Mrs Davies the housekeeper has joined the rest of the staff for a well-earned cup of tea and a mince pie fresh out of the oven - it's not often that one sees her out of her room! She is clearly still having a problem choosing the tablecloth for the servants' Christmas feast......

The tree is safely up in the schoolroom and the presents are tucked underneath, ready for distribution a little later in the day.....

And then everything happens at once....nursery tea upstairs, complete with tree and crackers, a Christmas pudding, bravely borne up many flights of stairs by the faithful Miss Tilbury, and gingerbread men..... 
But where are Charlotte and Oliver?   Is it possible that they have both been promoted to dining on this auspicious occasion with the grown-ups of the family?

And yes indeed, that is precisely where they are.....

They have been waiting for this moment for years and are eagerly looking forward to plying the nutcrackers and pulling the crackers as soon as that mound of sprouts is out of the way! 

And outside, next to the chestnut seller, rather fewer carol singers  than in previous years are gearing up for their rendering of the inevitable song - not forgetting to put the heavy stress on every time the word "wish" appears!

Or as Scrooge puts it in A Christmas Carol  
" A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world!"


  1. Merry Christmas to you as well Cestina.

    It must have been a nightmare time for the staff of big houses way back when. It looks organised and joyful in your photographs. The tiny stockings hanging up are beautiful

    Lave Chrissie xx

    1. Yes, we forget the work that had to happen behind the scenes, from the crack of dawn till the end of a long, long day...

      Happy Christmas Chrissie.

  2. Ambassador – you are spoiling us! Not with a pyramid of crummy old Ferrero Rocher, but with a tower of teeny tiny sprouts! What a feast of little things you have provided – so much to exclaim over. The cutlery!! THE CANDLES!! The mincer! The carol singers! Where are the rest of them? Drunk again? (I’ve always thought a drum makes an excellent accompaniment to carols, btw and the percussive possibilities of hot chestnuts in a paper cone should not be overlooked.) I sang along, of course – hurrah for the bouncing ball!

    Cook hasn’t aged at all, nor has Mrs Davies become any more decisive…is Grandmama en déshabillé, or has she just been at the sherry?

    But – WHY is poor Charlotte guilty? Has she been selected for promotion over an older child? Or is it because she is going to swap Bear and Panda around?

    Not a humbug in sight – God Bless Us, Every One!

    Thank you

    Andrea xx

    1. No Charlotte has not ousted an older child but she has an outsize conscience and feels that all children should be treated equally. Still, at least that leads her to tidy up....

      Grandmama does not imbibe! The very idea is scandalous!

    2. Not an outsize conscience, just the stirrings of a little more fairness!! I suspect Charlotte's servants' children will be the recipients of a fairer wage and will have more choice of career. Think how things have changed. To-day's Grandmamas do imbibe...well at least this one does. Have a marvellous time. Jill

    3. Maybe Charlotte will find herself having recourse to this book

      Oh yes, this Grandmama imbibes as well, particularly slivovice and pink fizz, all from Bohemia...

      Have a great Christmas!

  3. What fun and you have a huge collection of miniatures!
    Merry Christmas Cestina!
    Sandy Claus

    1. How nice that Sandy Claus approves!
      A Merry Christmas to you too :-)

  4. Well, apart from the wrong words in We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and red candles (surely anachronistic), and those somewhat egregious stockings, it's a charming visit to the Walmer.

    I do however feel that it is highly inappropriate for Kitty to be cleaning the silver in her parlour uniform, and for poor Miss Tilbury to be toiling up the stairs with the nursery tea - staffing levels will evidently need to be addressed in the New Year. Perhaps if Mrs Davies spent less time pontificating over (also highly anachronistic) tablecloths and a little more time on her other duties, such solecisms might be avoided. Mrs Bartlett might make considerable household economies by dispensing with her services altogether. A scullery maid's wages would be considerably lower, and that would free Kitty up to fulfil a proper parlour maid's role. Just a thought...

    1. Mrs Davies is an old family retainer and therefore has to be, er, retained.

      Miss Tilbury wanted to join the children and nobly offered, on this one occasion, to save Kitty's legs.

      There are a number of anachronisms both of time and place (if such a thing exists). A challenge to spot them all....

  5. So much to do to get ready for Christmas! Everyone is so busy. Great photographs. Merry Christmas.