Published in 1861, Beeton’s Household Management book contains a number of Christmas recipes, without going into depth on what the festival really meant. This reflects the mid-Victorian turmoil over Christmas: was it an excuse for drunken revelry and better off banned or forgotten? Or was it an occasion to celebrate with family and friends and to remember those less fortunate than the middle classes to whom Beeton addressed her writing?
The talk addresses the way in which the customs that we consider part of our ‘traditional’ Christmas were invented, or reinvented, in the mid-nineteenth century. It uses recipe books and depictions of food to think about our Christmas lunch, along with cards, etchings and book illustrations to show the development of Christmas as we know it today. It also covers ideas for house decorations taken from Victorian times and suggests some alternatives to watching TV during the after dinner lull.
Dr Annie Gray is the resident food historian on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet, and co-presented BBC’s Victorian Bakers, as well as its Christmas special, which was filmed at Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums. She also fronts the hit BBC Two show ‘The Sweet Makers’ part of which was also filmed at various locations at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.
Tea and coffee will be served from 6.30pm ahead of the talk, which starts at 7pm and will be followed by a question and answer session at around 8pm. Tickets are free but, as places are limited, must be pre-booked online at www.ironbridge.org.uk, where details can also be found.
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