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Christmas purchase lists - food and gifts, 1662-63

Christmas purchase lists - food and gifts, 1662-63
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Christmas is seen as a time for celebration, fun and generally excessive eating, and drinking, and yet for a short period of time Christmas was actually banned. In the mid-seventeenth century parliamentary legislation was introduced to put an end to the frivolous and disrespectful behaviour engendered by traditional Christmas celebrations. In 1644 the feast of Christmas was abolished.

A contemporary Royalist ballad claimed that “To conclude, I’ll tell you news that’s right, Christmas was killed at Naseby fight.” (June 1645)

Despite rioting against the ban it was strongly enforced by Parliament. In 1656 shops and markets in London were ordered to stay open on the 25 December and soldiers patrolled the streets, seizing any food that might be prepared for a Christmas celebration. It was not until the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 that Christmas ceased to be illegal.

Lady Johanna and her husband, Sir Walter, were Parliamentarians and while there are no detailed records to show how they spent Christmas pre-1660, there are later documents which show that they knew how to celebrate Christmas in style, even to excess.

The documents above were written by Anna Smith, Lady Johanna’s housekeeper at Battersea. They list purchases for Christmas as well as gifts to servants. Gift giving had also been banned, and servants especially, must have been delighted that this particular ban was now lifted......

READ MORE: See the full commentary by Dr Lynda Pidgeon to discover the fantastic preparations that Lady Johanna went to in order to ensure the festive season was a success!

Year:
1662-1663
Author:
Anna Smith, Housekeeper at Battersea Manor
Type:
Manuscript
Location:
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Reference:
WSHC 3430/30 -32
Copyright:
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
Credit:
Dr Lynda Pidgeon
Last updated on:
Friday 3rd December 2021

Items of Interest

Johanna St John (1631-1705), wife of Sir Walter St John, 3rd Bt by John Michael Wright
Johanna St John (1631-1705), wife of Sir Walter St John, 3rd Bt by John Michael Wright

Medium - oil on canvasMeasurements - H 73.5 W 57 c...

St.John Papers - Part 1 correspondence 1570 - 1656
St.John Papers - Part 1 correspondence 1570 - 1656

Transcripts of 189 letters held in private hands w...

St.John Papers - Part II correspondence
St.John Papers - Part II correspondence

Transcripts of 189 letters held in private hands w...

Report No. 37
Report No. 37

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