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  • Writer's pictureMary Allen

Festive Highlights

Illustration from the Blandyke Papers, Christmas 1928

Some festive favourites from the British Jesuit Archives.

Br Thomas Moore's Christmas pudding recipe (ref. SJ/29/6)

In the 1930s, Novices and Juniors at Manresa House, Roehampton would have been treated to the cooking of Br Thomas Moore, whose recipe book survives in the Archives and includes a recipe for an inexpensive Christmas pudding. Traditionally Christmas pudding is prepared on the last Sunday before Advent, roughly five weeks before Christmas. The fact that he recorded his recipe in July suggests he was well prepared. You may want to reduce the quantities if trying this recipe for yourself as it produced 4 large or 8 small puddings, though for a reasonable 5 shillings.

Heythrop College Christmas Logbook (ref. SE/2)

Preparations for Christmas at Heythrop were taken very seriously. The Christmas logbook contains detailed instructions and arrangements for the Christmas festivities of 1927, from a programme of cleaning to the gargantuan process of ordering supplies for 160 people and a strict timetable of activities for Christmas Day itself. The logbook includes lists of the numbers of chairs and tables available as well as a detailed diagram of table arrangements in the hall for the traditional Christmas entertainments, plays put on by the Philosophers and Theologians.

Christmas Cards

A variety of Christmas cards can be found in our collections, and a history of these festive greetings, as told through the Archives, can be read here. Some early Christmas cards were much smaller and infinitely more intricate than the cards most of us send to each other today, take for example the card above from Fr Cyril Martindale's papers, which measures just 5 x 8 cm (ref. 52/1/6/5). For these tiny cards their designers had to be much more inventive in how they portrayed scenes and card senders had to find many ingenious ways to fit as much news in as possible. This writer used a technique called a ‘crossed letter’, which was a common way of saving on paper and expensive postage charges.

Fr Leslie Walker's diaries

The personal papers of Fr Leslie Walker contain some of the Archives’ most treasured items, particularly his sketch books which depict life in the Society and as an army chaplain in the First World War. Among his records are his personal diaries, the majority of which belong to his teenage years (ref. SJ/51/2). These give a delightful insight into the life of a schoolboy during the late 19th century. Among the most charming are the entries for Christmas day, in which he often lists what he and his family received.

Christmas Day 1889:

Rose early at 5-30 but got in to bed again after I was dressed as it was so early. Rose again 6-45. Sang a carol at Ma’s door called The Saviour’s Birth, commencing Once in Royal David’s City.

Found the following things in my stocking:-

A text

2 dates

15 raisins

3 almonds

5 sweets

12 small nuts

1 large nut

3 biscuits

1 sugar mouse

3 pence

1 apple

1 orange

7 grapes

1 fig

Helped Pa get the table ready for dinner. Uncle & Auntie & cousins (Grices) came & cousins (Bullivants) came to dinner. Uncle Joseph came afterwards. Wilber, Harold & I went to the post for Pa with 216 letters. Wilbur and I went to Mrs W Grice’s to ask them to come to tea but they were out. Sang & played in the evening. Had games at Clubs, &How When & Where, & Judge & Jury; Nellie, Emmie & Elsie & Bertie stopped all night. Retired (not at all). Weather frosty & cold.

Christmas Day 1892:

Mother & Father sang a carol. The whole family went to Chapel (which was beautifully decorated). Spent the afternoon round the fire.

Our presents were:-

Father:- “Chaucer Canterbury tales”

Mother:- ditto

Leslie:- Oil paints in box, A silk pocket handkerchief

Harold:- Dinner knife etc, Kingdoms of Europe (cards), Stone bricks

Ethel:- Birthday book, Book of texts for painting, Paints (waters)

Grandmother Walker: - Box for pens etc, Woollen cape or shawl

Grandmother Bullivant:- Portrait frame, Veil

Sang hymns & carols in evening. Father read from Bible as usual.

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