What’s On at The Geffrye Museum – 2012

Updated 6 December 2012

Christmas Past

        400 Years Of Seasonal Traditions In English Homes

                 Tuesday 27 November 2012 – Sunday 6 January 2013

hall in 1630 - photo Jayne Lloyd

hall in 1630 – photo Jayne Lloyd

Each year, authentic festive decorations transform the Geffrye Museum’s period rooms, giving visitors an evocative and captivating insight into how Christmas has been celebrated in middle-class homes in England over the past 400 years.

Step back through the centuries and discover the origins and meanings of some of the rich and vibrant traditions of Christmas past, from feasting, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe to playing parlour games, hanging up stockings, sending cards, decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties.

A full programme of events will accompany the exhibition (see below for details).  Festive food will be served in the restaurant, and visitors can hunt for original gifts, decorations, cards and books in the shop.

A loft-style apartment in 1998.2.photo by Steve Speller

A loft-style apartment in 1998.2.photo by Steve Speller



 Farewell to Christmas

The Geffrye’s traditional burning of the holly and the ivy, celebrated with carol singing, stories about Epiphany and a taste of mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake.  Please note that this event takes place in the garden, so wrap up warm.

Sunday 6 January 2013, 3.30 – 5.00pm.  Admission free.



Concert by Candlelight

Acclaimed group Bocca Aperta returns to the Geffrye with a moving recital of a capella Christmas music under the Christmas tree in the reading room.

Wednesday 12 December.  Museum open from 7.30pm, concert begins at 8.00pm.

Tickets £15 in advance (includes a glass of sherry or port and a mince pie).

Unfortunately this is now fully booked

Workshop:  Christmas Greenery

Create festive arrangements with fresh greenery and a mixture of scented, natural ornaments, whilst learning about the origins of our Christmas traditions.

Saturday 15 December, 1.30 – 4.30pm.

Tickets £30 (includes short talk, workshop and all materials).

Unfortunately this is now fully booked

Exhibition Talk: Christmas Past in Focus

Explore the ghost of Christmas Past and learn about Victorian Christmas traditions in this informal gallery talk.

Saturday 15 December, 11.30am and repeated at 3.00pm.  Admission Free.



Ceramics in the City runs from 21 – 23 September 2012 at the Geffrye Museum during London Design Festival and holds a variety of ceramic products as part of a selling fair.

This vibrant selling fair, now in its eleventh year brings together a wide range of selected potters from around the country, a mix of both leading names and rising talents showcasing a wide variety of techniques, styles, textures and colour.  Delicate, thrown porcelain will be displayed alongside earthy stoneware and imaginative hand-built pieces, and cool white glazes will provide contrast to colourful painted vessels.  Prices will range from £10 for mugs and small objects to several hundred pounds for large-scale work. An example of some pieces are below.

For more information and pictures, see the Geffrye Museum website here.

Porcelain vessel by Tony Laverick

Black and white rocking bowl

Green Fin by Tina Vlassopulos

Creamy Lying Bottle by Ruth King

At Home with the World

Whether intentionally or accidentally, our homes are filled with items from abroad: from our television screens, the rugs on our floors, to the ceramics in our cupboards. At Home with the World at our neighbours the Geffrye Museum examines exactly this, adding in a historical perspective on how ‘English’ our homes are. The exhibition forms part of the Stories of the World: London exhibition, a major project at the heart of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the biggest youth engagement project ever undertaken by UK museums. The exhibition is result of three years of intensive community and youth engagement work, and is reflected in the rest of the museum and gardens.

The exhibition draws attention to objects that captured the nation’s imagination, such as lacquered boxes, bamboo tables and Japanese block prints: items that expressed luxury and a degree worldliness. It also looks at those things that we might have become so used to that we no longer think about where they might have come from. For instance, many consider tea as encapsulating Britishness in both the drink itself and the cups that contain it; a display of ceramics and posters remind us that it only became part of British identity when it was imported from China in the 18th century.

A separate section looks at the homes of people living in the UK, all trying to make their houses feel like ‘home’, including some personal objects and snippets of interviews on screens. The exhibition invites the audience to interact and think about how these ideas are present in their own homes.

Responses to “Tell us about an object in your home which has come from another country”

With the world coming to London this summer, what better way to reflect on how we engage with it on a daily basis? With a kids-trail running throughout the museum and the use of many different media, the exhibition is a great idea for a family outing. The museum has also organized a range of activities for all ages, and free tours are available on various dates. For more information visit their website: http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/

For more information about the Stories of the World project, have a look here.
Visiting address: 136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8EA

Installation in the museum garden

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