Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year, and each time there is a fresh set of ‘on trend’ decorations that everyone needs to have.
How about turning the clock back to the beginnings of these trends though?
The celebration of Christmas primarily began with the Victorian Royal Family and the upper-class British families, as the poorer members of the population couldn’t afford items like Christmas cards at one shilling a piece.
Courtesy of The Jack the Ripper Tour, below is see some of the decorations that would have been used in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and how to make them work now, too!
1. Cover the top of a mantel with boughs of greens. Cluster and arrange pineapples, oranges, apples, pomegranates and berries or grapes, to create a beautifully coloured display. You can use boxes or Styrofoam blocks (hidden by the greenery) to arrange the fruits at different heights, and embellish the arrangement with pearly beads, tassels and ribbon.
2. Set up a group of five to seven similarly coloured pillar candles on assorted blocks of wood, at different heights on a mantel. Wrap greens around them and weave white lights throughout the greens. Concentrate the lights around the candles to create a glow of light. This is particularly attractive if you have a mirrored mantel or if you place an antique mirror on the mantel behind the candles.
3. A beautiful, simple mantel arrangement can be created by displaying gold-sprayed pinecones on greens, with white lights mixed throughout. For a monochromatic display, add gold Lamé ribbon across the top with assorted loops and dips, or place several gold cherubs amid the greens. For a burst of colour, add a grouping of red cardinals, peacock feathers or a spray of silk roses on one side of the mantel.
4. Create a beautiful Victorian Christmas tree with garlands of pearls, silk roses, feathered birds and clip-on candles. Burgundy, pink and cream colours should predominate.
5. Don’t forget to dress the front stairway in Victorian splendour, as it is often one of the first things holiday guests see. It’s the perfect setting for a lavish display of greenery, garlands, wide burgundy ribbons and ornaments.
If the Victorian Christmas is something that interests you, then you’re likely to find other topics around this era of interest. Typically, at the time, one of the most infamous murderers was at large – Jack the Ripper, who terrified the streets of Whitechapel over a period of weeks. Click here to discover London’s one and only Jack the Ripper walking tour!
These gruesome crimes took place during the latter end of the year, tainting the seasonal part of the year for those aware of the crimes.
While others around the London area carried on with their daily lives, others were avoiding the streets at dark. With only small oil lamps casting the bare minimum amount of light, there was nowhere near the amount of warm lighting we have around this time of year today.
If you would like to get a feel for the cold and damp streets of Whitechapel, which were tortured by the unknown predator that was Jack the Ripper, then book yourself onto The Jack the Ripper tour and experience it in the cold – even more realistic!