Tuesday 19 December 2017

"Let's have music for Christmas...."

As we saw in the last blogpost, the Christmas season has arrived in Small Worlds and what better way to celebrate than with a little "Hausmusik"? (To my surprise I have just discovered that Hausmusik and House Music are false friends - I had never heard of the latter....).

But before the family, friends and staff can settle down to enjoy a home concert, there is of course the shopping to be done and Gosthwaites, although only a provincial department store, has not lagged behind in following the new fashion of decorating their windows for Christmas ......

As I have said before, Christmas is all about tradition so, as in any well-conducted household, the same foods and decorations are likely to reappear as our Victorian family, the Walmers, get ready to celebrate the festive season.   If you would like to remind yourself of previous years then you can find them here and here....

But each year it is good to focus on a slightly different aspect of the celebrations.   For some time, it has been the practice of the Walmers to invite their friend, Mrs Francis, a skilled harpist, to join them on Christmas Eve to indulge in a little joint music-making.   She is usually to be found in her music salon..... 

.....above the Dutch coffee shop (no, not that kind....).

Mrs Davies, the housekeeper, occasionally joins her there for some duets on her day off.

However on this occasion it is Papa, rather than his housekeeper, who comes to the forefront.  He has long fancied himself as a cellist of some ability and likes nothing better than to impress his women-folk with his skill...

The children are encouraged - indeed compelled - to provide an additional audience, but it is felt that they are too young to be in the same room as the grown-ups so they perch on the adjacent stairs from whence they can cast longing glances at the array of presents already set out beneath the Christmas tree. 

Miss Tilbury the governess, unlike the rest of the staff, is present in the drawing room but finds to her dismay that she is unfortunately placed should she need to hasten to quell dissension in the children's ranks. She is particularly worried about cheeky young Robin, seated right at the top and most likely to cause trouble....

The first item on the programme is a duet for harp and cello, Schubert's Ave Maria, to which all listen with great attention.

The servants have been invited to sit with Mrs Davies - her room handily opens off the drawing room. Since they cannot be seen by the family, Mrs Davies has brought up a decanter of sherry to share with the others. 

Knitted by the highly skilled Sheila Randall
Nanny spent some time choosing the baby's outfit for the occasion but in the end decided to leave him in his usual clothes since the change in routine would be enough to upset him unless she was very careful.

Cook refused the invitation to join the rest of the staff, saying she saw no reason to leave her comfortable chair in the cosy kitchen to be squashed up with Kitty and Nanny and in any case she could hear the noise perfectly well from downstairs.  She could relax peacefully, in the knowledge that all was in hand for Christmas dinner the next day.

After the Schubert, the children, now armed with songbooks, are allowed to sing some carols and everyone joins in lustily. 

They have to stay on the stairs however, unlike this delightful little Victorian group.

The evening ends with another duet played with verve and distinction by Papa and Mrs Francis and all go happily to bed, ready to enjoy the opening of the presents early next morning.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of a Victorian Christmas in Small Worlds and I offer you my thanks for continuing to follow this blog into what is now its fifth year.   

I send you all good wishes for the season and the coming year - and I leave you with some very different cello music to send you on your way - eat your heart out, Papa.....


  1. I see where your daughter comes by her verbal skills. I enjoy how you describe the scenes. I also loved the music video but surely he wasn't really playing the cello outside in the cold and snow?

  2. I agree with Marci, what a fabulous post with your vivid descriptions to go with the wonderful pictures. The video was amazing. Happy Christmas xx

  3. Yes, music, music, music - what a wonderful Walmer celebration! xx

  4. Splendid splendid splendid! Now I have seen the Walmers, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
    How sensible to dose Baby with sherry. Cook is fooling no-one with her strategically-placed teapot; we all know it's brimming with gin.
    Lovely selection of music - thank you. Congratulations on blog longevity - here's to many more years to come (no pressure).
    Merry Christmas one and all.
    Andrea x

  5. Delightful!
    Merry Christmas to you and your friends and family in both countries.
    Jenni xx

  6. Love that you decorate the shop windows for Christmas and the Victorian children on the stairs are so cute. x


  7. what a wonderful narration - I enjoyed every word of your delightful story. I am also pleased to see that the Walmers are cat lovers as I am too!
    What joy - what pleasure!!
    Merry Christmas!
    Sandy Claus xx

  8. Hello Miss Cestina, i so enjoyed spending Christmas Eve here at the Doll House,since I'm alone here you party was just what I needed, I love the Cello music and the new Dutch cafe is just charming wishing you and Butterfly a Christmas full of love, peace and laughter ((( HUGE HUGS )))