It’s been a slightly odd Christmas, with no museum to close up for the holidays. Ever since 2007, when the Square was redesigned, the town Christmas Tree and the Christmas Lights have been a focus for celebration. Next year we will be joining in making Christmas a great event, with the Christmas Lights switch on in November, and the new Christmas Market on the Square which took place this year in truly horrible weather!
My earliest memories of Christmas at the Museum are so long ago that I don’t have any digitised images of them! Way back in the 1990s we hosted a concert by the Landkey Carol singers, including one elderly gentleman who remembered singing all round the parish at Christmas time when he was a young boy. The Carols were specific to Landkey, and very good – so many people came that we had to put Acrow props under the landing to take the weight of the audience. It’s great that a new group, supported by Wren Music, restarted the Landkey Carol tradition this Christmas – it would be lovely if they could pay a return visit to the Museum next year.
Although Christmas is often a dead time for museums, we have occasionally put on special Christmas themed exhibitions. I have some film of my elder daughter, then aged 18 months, exploring dolls and giant teddy bears made by a local artist (I think named Zena) in 1999. In 2003 we combined Christmas and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in an exhibition which included a recreation of a 1950s living room and a display of model soldiers given to the museum by the late Peggy Lines of Instow, who had received them as a retirement gift from Hamley’s toy shop in London.
This year our volunteers kicked Christmas off by creating a wreath for the Pannier Market, which they greatly enjoyed. And we thanked them for the thousands of hours work they have given us this year with their annual Christmas Dinner, complete with awards and a Secret Santa.
The food was excellent as usual, much better than it would have been if we were on rations – this is a recipe for Christmas cake from 1946 is a little short on nuts and alcohol as well as assuming no fresh eggs are available.
Next year we are looking forward to getting much more involved with Christmas – as well as our new 20th Century Gallery and exhibition spaces we’ll be able to offer seasonal treats in our improved tea-room – and we hope you will come to our new shop for some of your Christmas gifts and stocking-fillers.
In the meantime, let’s welcome 2019, and look forward to the museum reopening in just 6 months or so!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year