Linton’s Victorian Christmas 1871:
In the week before Christmas, the recently reopened village hall at Linton hosted a Victorian Christmas evening organised by the Linton History Group as its last meeting before Christmas. The village hall was originally opened in 1871 and so, to mark the reopening, the History Group celebrated Christmas as it would have been celebrated in the village in 1871, making it truly an evening to remember.
Gone were the Father Christmases, tinsel, plastic decorations and glass baubles, which were replaced by holly, ivy, rosemary and myrtle. The tree was simply decorated with hand-made wooden decorations, sugar candy sticks and home-made angels. As electric light was only invented in 1878, candles were the main source of lighting throughout the hall – although, not wanting to risk burning down the recently refurbished building, a decision was made to use LED candles instead.
The entrance ticket was exchanged for old pennies at the ‘Bank of Linton’ and these were used throughout the evening, prices being commensurate with what they would have been in 1871.
A Curiosity Table featured a selection of local Victorian items with information about the people in the village (taken from the 1871 census) who may have used them. These included such items as housemaid’s equipment, tools and a giant carthorse shoe with the names of the three local blacksmiths, one of whom ended his days in the Easingwold Union workhouse. In addition, there were two Christening gowns displayed next to a list of the names of children from the village who would have been under 2 years old in 1871 and information about the teachers and governesses living in the village.
Picture postcards were first used as souvenirs around 1870, so some old picture postcards of Linton were available for people to buy and take away as a memento of the evening.
As 1871 was the first year of the official Bank Holiday, more opportunities became available for families to spend time together. Later in the decade, board games and Music Hall, operettas and more mass-produced toys became available. With this in mind, a variety of card and board games dating from the period were played during the evening, before a selection of poetry and readings from the time, and the singing of carols. Refreshments were available in the form of roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, fruit punch, mince pies and Victorian gingerbread biscuits. There was also a selection of Victorian sweets and walnuts on each table. A raffle was held with suitably Victorian prizes such as a pineapple, coal tar soap, bananas and Harrogate toffee – formulated to take away the taste of the Spa water. Tickets had been 1/2d each and sold by a ‘soldier home for Christmas’.
During the evening, a presentation was made to the village hall committee by the History Group of a copy of the original bill for the village hall and a framed copy of the earliest photograph of the inside of the hall as yet available.
Many of those attending (from ages 1 to 80+) entered into the spirit of the evening and dressed accordingly.
Linton History Group would like to thank all those who attended, helped and worked to make the evening so memorable. The History group has a varied programme of events listed on the Linton on Ouse village website. Their next event 7.15pm 17th January in Linton on Ouse village Hall is about the ‘Village and the RAF base during WW2’.
The recently reopened Village Hall – the History Group would like to thank all those who worked so hard to make this happen. A real piece of History – in the middle of the Village!