Finding out what Christmas was like through the ages

PUBLISHED: 14:58 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 14:58 16 December 2014

All the trimmings of Christmas past at the Weald & Downland Museum

All the trimmings of Christmas past at the Weald & Downland Museum


Christmas throughout the ages at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum - Boxing Day - 28 December 2014

An historic and festive treat awaits visitors to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum for three days over Christmas – Boxing Day to Sunday 28 December. The Museum’s traditionally decorated houses will reflect the spirit of Christmas throughout the ages with a special focus on the Tudor era. The hall of the 15th century Bayleaf farmhouse will be dressed with evergreens and boast a table laid for a yeoman farmer’s Christmas.

In Winkhurst Tudor kitchen, cooks will demonstrate a variety of seasonal food and drink, including Christmas mincemeat pies and enriched bread. Tasters will be on offer (subject to availability). Period music, historical demonstrations, plus crackling open log fires will bring history to life, so that visitors can discover how our rural ancestors celebrated Christmas from Medieval to Edwardian times.

Pendean farmhouse, built in 1609, will be dressed to reflect Christmas in early Stuart England with a warming yule log, traditional greenery decorations and indoor games. In Poplar Cottage visitors can learn about the time when the Puritans cancelled Christmas during Cromwell’s Commonwealth.

Richard Pailthorpe, Director of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, says:

“Christmas is a wonderful time to visit the Museum and view the houses, which have been decorated to reflect how this special time of year has been celebrated by our ancestors over the centuries. The Museum’s downland setting has a magical atmosphere of its own at Christmas.”

The Museum is home to 50 historic buildings, which have been rescued from destruction, moved and carefully reconstructed on the site. For many years visitors have enjoyed the opportunity to bring friends and family to the Museum’s idyllic location, which is set in the heart of the South Downs National Park near Chichester, West Sussex. It is the perfect opportunity to walk off the Christmas pudding!

The Museum is open daily throughout the winter until 22 December and then opens for ‘The Tudor Christmas’ from Boxing Day 26 - Sunday 28 December 2014. The Museum is open daily during the festive season until 1 January 2015. Information on opening hours and admission prices is available at


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