Tags: Geffrye Museum, Twelfth Night, typewriter
I’ve just got back from a lovely and heart-warming way to celebrate Twelfth Night – the Geffrye Museum’s annual ‘Farewell to Christmas‘ celebration. They usually have a traditional burning of the holly and the ivy outside the museum, but unfortunately that was cancelled this year due to the blustery weather. But we did have Christmas cake, mulled wine and carols, with a fantastic brass band (the French horn player looked very red in the face). It felt like a good way to end the festive season as now it’s nearly time to return to the working world.
Since getting home I’ve been distracting myself for a little while by typing up some recipes I’ve promised to share with a work colleague (a selection of Dan Lepard’s tasty bread and cake recipes). It’s always nice to have an opportunity to get my typewriter out, but it is rather noisy and makes the kitchen table vibrate. I’ve been half expecting my next-door neighbour to come round to complain. It reminded of Enid, the BBC TV film with Helena Bonham Carter as Blyton – in which she merrily types away next to her open window, disturbing the peace of all around her. A return to the computer seemed sensible. So, to sign off, here’s a picture of the ever productive and hard-working real Enid Blyton to get us all (well, definitely me) in the mood for going back to work.
Tags: Christmas Past, Geffrye Museum
A visit to the Geffrye Museum’s ‘Christmas Past’ exhibition has become something of a festive tradition for me since moving to London a few years ago. The Museum is set in eighteenth century almshouses in East London and presents a series of rooms recreating typical middle-class living spaces from the 1600s through to the present day. Every year at Christmas time these rooms are decked out according to the traditions and customs of their period, with decorations ranging from sprigs of rosemary and bay leaves in the earlier rooms, through to the artificial tress and electric fairy lights of the twentieth century.
The room pictured above is the Geffrye Museum’s 1910 drawing/sitting room and is meant to represent a semi-detached house in Golders Green, North London. Although many Blyton aficionados may disagree, I think there is something a little bit Kirrin-ish about it. Obviously Kirrin Cottage is old (it’s been in Aunt Fanny’s family for generations) but, when they had the money, the family may have periodically updated its fittings and furnishings. A short period of prosperity for the Kirrin family in the late nineteenth century could explain the elegant Arts and Crafts fireplace, and although this is supposed to be 1910, it could easily be a room of 20 or even 30 years later, assuming that Aunt Fanny did not always follow the latest trends in interior decoration.
Looking at this room I can imagine the children helping to decorate it with branches of holly (as the most mature and sensible member of the Five I suspect Julian would be the one at the top of the stepladder) and Aunt Fanny stealing a quiet moment to sit down with a cup of tea and fill the stockings (just seen on the sofa) with tangerines and other small gifts – perhaps while the Five are off at Kirrin Farmhouse discovering secret panels and old linen maps.