A Replication of a Tudor Yuletide

I’ve always being interested in Christmas customs and traditions so last year on the Sunday just before Christmas when one of the parents of two sisters that I taught nearly 40 years ago was visiting me and mentioned that she had just come from nearby Little Morton Hall, a National Trust property, that was displaying how the Tudors celebrated their past Christmases my ears perked up.

When she left here it was nearly 2.30pm and although I knew that closing time there was at 4.00pm and dusk was already settling in I quickly grabbed a couple of dolls and my camera and headed off there.
I spent an enjoyable hour wandering around and promised myself that I would come back next year with more time. So here I am.

1.On the 1st of December, the start of the time known as Advent, the Tudors would begin their Xmas preparations by fasting and not eating meat, eggs or cheese until Christmas Day to save money and food for the twelve days of feasting that would follow. (I’m now wondering if this is where The Twelve Days of Christmas’ song originated.) The Religious Teachings in those days instructed that all farmers had to lay down their tools for these twelve days and only tend to the feeding and welfare of the animals.

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2.I rather like this view of the Tudor Manor House set amongst the trees. It was built to make a big impression and it certainly does just that.

It was constructed and built during the Tudor period with the earliest part in 1504-1508 and the final construction of the 68 foot Long Gallery at the top in 1610. It is this last addition that has put the pressure onto the floors below causing it to become bowed and crooked and causing amazement that it is still standing after 500 years.

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This timber framed building curved around a scenic moat belonged to the Moreton Family for well over four hundred years.

During Advent they would collect thin Willow sticks and make them into circles and star shapes and then twine the collected Holly and Ivy from the surrounding environment using these to decorate their houses, both inside and out.

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11. NO! Not Bonfire/Guy Fawke’s Night!
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13. The original dog house and water bowl.
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14. One of the visitors had climbed into the kennel and wanted me to take a photo of him in there. I agreed but only if he would hold a Sasha Doll
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15. This jutting out extension above the kitchens was where the wild game was hung for approximately seven days out in the cool to age and tenderise the meat or poultry. (My mother used to do this with wild rabbits, pheasants and ducks in our cellar in the ‘olden’ days when I was young, before plucking and skinning them.)
16. The well in the courtyard. Felt a bit dizzy looking down it myself so didn’t dare let any of my dolls get too near.
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20. A rather inventive boot scraper outside the entrance porch.
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22. The Tudor Rose emblem.
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35.if there was more Holly than Ivy used in the decorations it was said to be a male dominated household but if more ivy it was a female dominated.
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36.Taking my cue from this visit I then made up a Holly Victorian Kissing Bunch and hung it outside by my front door to tone in with the trailing Ivy already in the chimney pot containers. Next year I plan to buy one of the alreay made Willow weaths from there and decorate it myself with Holly and Ivy.
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38.To be hopefully continued when time allows with their magnificent Christmas food displays.

Cast. 1970 Trendon wide faced brunette Gingham in a Sharon Humphrey’s Ra-ra dress and socks, Dollydoodle’s hoodie and JJ sandals. Gotz 1990s customised by Raven Toddler, Bea, in a Passion for Sasha coat, Christine Durand hat, Ruthsdoll’s tights and Lisa ‘s boots. and thirdly, Lisa Hartley re-rooted early 1970sTrendon baby nightdress in a Dollydoodle’s outfit and Gotz shoes.
Plus an unknown young male visitor .

(Sorry haven’t been in to take any photos of MY decorations or presents as yet but hopefully later next week when Chon has returned home and in-between family and friend’s visits to here.)

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38 thoughts on “A Replication of a Tudor Yuletide

  1. Thank you Kendal for a beautiful and educational post about a Tudor Christmas. It is nice to see how far back our traditions go and I love the use of our natural bounty for decorations. It is good to see the outdoor photos too. Your well dressed dolls look right at home in this most beautiful setting. I always enjoy seeing a Sasha baby in a wreath! Thank you for a lovely post! 🙂 xxx

    • I too love to hear about how our Christmas traditions originated and also how they have changed over the years. I must admit that I was slightly disappointed when I returned home to my gold baubles etc and so quickly constructed my Victorian Kissing Bunch to hang outside the front door. Next year I plan to go again and buy one of the circular twisted willow wreaths that they had on sale and then decorate my very own with greenery from my own small garden..

  2. Thanks Kendal.
    This is much interesting for me too -and the house ist soo beautiful.
    (As your dolls are as well, of course:)
    I love visiting open-air-museums, because I think our ancestors knowed much better how to live a really u n d e p e n d e n t life than we today.
    After seeing your photos, I was just searching and reading why they hung up so much green leaves in circles and starshapes.
    My english isn’t qualified for explaining complex coharences, but I found a english explanation, wich seems to be not to esoteric.
    http://cmhypno.hubpages.com/hub/Christmas-Evergreens-The-Tradition-of-Holly-Ivy-at-Christmas

    • Thanks Anne. The Tudor house is a very famous land mark about six miles from where I live so go to visit it quite a few times a year. I’ll definitely click on your link as soon as I’ve finished replying to these comments. Have been held up until just now as my middle brother and his wife have just popped by for coffee.
      I’m thinking that the star shape will have come from the original star that the wise men followed. Be interesting to see if I was right!
      PS.I’m still having trouble leaving comments on your blog unless I am the very first BUT if there are already a few there I find that I’m unable to scroll down to leave mine at the bottom. Need to get some outside help with this.

      • I’m afraid they’re writing about the evergreen leafs and not about the starshape, but I’m pretty sure, you’re right.
        Btw. the Tudor-Rose looks like the Luther-Rose, christian symbolism looks just alike.

        I’m sorry you’re having probs commenting on my blog.
        I don’t know what you see there, but usually right under the last comments stands:
        ‘Hinterlassen Sie ihren Kommentar’
        which means: ‘Please, leave your comment’ .
        Below is a white quadrat, blue outlined > you can bravely click into and write.
        New is the captcha, which states: ‘Ich bin kein Roboter’ = ‘I’m not a robot’ 🙂
        Then you have to choose your identity and click on the orange button:
        ‘Veröffentlichen’ = ‘post comment’
        Uh, it sounds difficult, but isn’t really.

        Habt ein gemuetliches Kaffeetrinken!

  3. Wow! I was fascinated! How I would love to visit that house. Thank you so much K for a fab post…your Sasha girls were super too!!

  4. What a fabulous post Kendal. We were fortunate enough to have visited Little Morton Hall many years back when we visited Lindsey at Uni in Stoke on Trent , we took Lindsey with us.That was well before I bought my first Sasha!
    Loved all the photo’s of your Sasha’s amongst the Christmas greenery. You are so good to have rushed out and managed to get such lovely photo’s as time was against you and also probably the light!
    I love it when our heritage buildings put on special displays taking us back to days of old.
    Wonderful post many thanks Dee xxx

    • It is a really beautiful and fascinating landmark isn’t it? I’ve always felt that it was quite so ‘public friendly’ until the last few years when it has been granted lottery funding although I did always try to take my school kids there in my teaching days.
      I was sorry that I didn’t get the dolls out quite as often on the outside shots as I would have liked but it was very cold and as you know I’m no longer able to wear gloves and the warmth of the hot apple brandy punch didn’t last inside me as long as I would have wished.
      Did manage though to get a few pics of the beautifully laid out and clipped Box Knot gardens for you which I’ll hopefully include in the next post.

  5. Thanks for another beautiful day out Kendal! You find the best places to go. I am going to consult you before my next trip to England for a list of places to see. Love hearing all of the history of Christmas. People were so creative at that time using what they had to create their own celebrations. Wishing you joy during this 12 days of Christmas….Carol

    • Wait until you see the Christmas food that they used to make and the days of preparation that went into it all. I was truly amazed at all their time and effort that they put into everything. No ‘ready meals’ or bought ‘all prepared’ for them. Each item made with love and care from scratch! No clicking on ovens and then regulating the cooking temperatures by the turn of a dial, no microwaves or mixing/dicing machines to make life easy! No fridges or deep freezes to store everything once made.
      Even saw a little of their entertainment being shown, the Jesters, a small choir and instrumental quartette.

  6. Thank you for sharing this wonderful, interesting and informative post with us Kendal. As you know we enjoy visiting many NT and English Heritage properties, but this is one we haven’t visited yet – so must add it to the list! Of course seeing all the Christmas decorations makes it even more special. We could learn a lot from many of these traditions….

    • I have to admit that it’s a very pretty National Trust property though until just recently it hasn’t had many events that you could go to like this but all that’s changing with the new lottery funding and I believe that you can even hire some of the rooms for private gatherings. I know about twenty-nine years ago we wanted to hire it for my daughter’s wedding reception but it wasn’t allowed so we had to use Great Moreton Hall instead.

      All the Festive greenery and Tudor costumed staff there certainly made the time there very special.

  7. Lovely photos of an interesting place. It’s amazing that such an ancient building is still standing. I just love the window shots.
    I too am looking forward to seeing the food – not sure though if it will all be to our modern taste?!

    • It is a wonder that the building is still standing on account of all it’s crookedness.
      The leaded light windows are indeed like beautiful works of art.
      I’ll await your verdict after seeing the food post. It does look healthy…. though I’m not too sure if I’d go for the centre piece of the Wild Boar’s head.

  8. As much as I like living in Spain, there´s nothing to compare to the beautiful old buildings in England with their enchanting history and stories to tell. I can´t wait to see the food that was produced back in the day for Christmas, so looking forward to your next post……
    P.S please tell the wardrobe department that they were spot-on for the choice of clothes for the cast and suited the back-drop beautifully! xxx

    • Some of our older built houses here are truly a work of art. I plan one day to take the camera to a little village about five kilometres away where one of my brothers lives to photograph some dear little black and white timber framed cottages.
      The replica foods that they ate look so real that you could easily be fooled into thinking that they were.
      I too loved their red and white clothing against the black, white and green backdrops.

  9. Wow, Kendal this place is beautiful, i wouldn’t mind visiting it myself some time next year. maybe we could go together. Beautiful photos xxx

  10. Late to the ‘party’ as I’ve not been well and not switched the laptop on until now, but thanks for the lovely photos Kendal, I hope you had a very nice Christmas with family and friends 🙂
    Big hugs Sharon xxx

    • Oh dear Sharon! I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve not been well over Christmas and especially with your mother and brother staying there as well. Hope that you are now well on the mend.
      I hate to say it having heard that you weren’t so well but this was the most enjoyable Christmas that I’ve had for a long time. So hoping to replicate the same activities next year.
      Happy New Year.

  11. Morton Hall looks like a very interesting place to visit. I particularly like photo 9 (baby in the wreath) and also photos of the hall (1 and 2) – it is fascinating to see how the timber has curved over the centuries – definitely a strong argument for building houses that size and height of stone or brick rather than timber. I’m guessing that the National Trust don’t put too much heavy furniture in the middle of rooms upstairs.

    • There basically isn’t that much furniture in there at all as you will see from my next indoor posts.

      It was the final addition of the 68 foot long gallery that put so much weight onto the existing structure BUT it is a truly magnificent room (though the flooring is rather uneven) to allow the ladies to take their daily walking exercise.

      Yes, I too liked the photo of the baby in the wreath. Might even use it as my Christmas card next year if I can’t come up with anything better.

  12. Kendal, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and have a fantastic New Year!
    I’m already looking forward to next years blogs following on from this fantastic blog.
    Enjoy, best wishes Louise x

  13. Magnifique demeure et superbes photographies comme toujours ,merci ! And best wishes for you ( sun every day for your health ) ,and your Sasha team ; welcome to this marvelous pale skin ,slate eyes ,photogenic, “young” Sasha GÖtz .

    • So pleased that you enjoyed the photos and liked my Gotz Saucer eyed Christmas Doll.
      I too wish you a very happy and healthy New Year and look forward to seeing you here visiting my blog over the next twelve months.

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