North Devon in 100 Objects 48

48. Rev Squire’s Christmas Decorations

In 1918 the country celebrated its first peacetime Christmas in four years.  For many families Christmases during the war had been times of sorrow and anxiety.  With sons and husbands away at the front it didn’t seem right to celebrate.  Those who could sent their loved ones festive gifts of plum puddings, cigarettes, and warm clothes, but for many soldiers, Christmas day brought only a few carols, a dinner of corned beef and biscuits, and more fighting.

In 1914 Princess Mary, the daughter of George V, launched an appeal to provide a Christmas gift to   ‘every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front’. The decorative metal boxes typically contained tobacco and a card from Princess Mary, and sometimes chocolate or sweets. They were given to soldiers each Christmas during the War.

When the armistice ended the war in November 1918, everyone looked forward to celebrating the first peacetime Christmas in many years. However, with the country still recovering, people now found themselves facing restrictions due to the Spanish flu.  But people and communities continued to rally together to celebrate the season of good will.

These decorations are made of glass and painted in the traditional shapes that we still see on our Christmas trees today.  They were bought in 1918 to celebrate the end of the war by the grandparents of Rev. Geoffrey Squire, for many years vicar of Landkey. They hung on the Squire family Christmas tree every year for 100 years before he donated them to the museum.

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