The holiday season has arrived in London with (jingle) bells on, and like clockwork, the Museum of the Home is opening its doors with its annual “Winter Past” exhibition! This charming set of displays offers visitors a journey through how winter traditions and life at home have changed over 400+ years of London history.
Tucked away in the East End of London, this quirky museum offers a glimpse into the history of the British home by letting you explore main living spaces across the ages, such as parlors, drawing rooms and living rooms displaying the style and taste of the home from 1600 to the present day.
These rooms sets depicting domestic life in different eras have been completely restyled to reveal winter stories through the centuries. Think displays of food served at the time along with the table settings, decorations of the period and a description of the often surprising activities that people got up to during those times. Each room is given a fictional family backstory that will help immerse you even more into imagining what it was really like.
Some of my favourite rooms from last year.
Wassailing Neighbors in 1630
Join a 17th-century household midwinter feast with wassailing (a festive tradition) neighbors singing for their supper.
Frost Fair Fun in 1683
Step back to a freezing day in 1683 when the Thames froze solid, becoming a site for festive frost fairs and lots of ice skating!
Costume Prep for Twelfth Night 1830
Join in as the Woodruffe children prepare their costumes for a Twelfth Night fancy dress ball, I call dibs on Viola!
Handmade Toys for Christmas 1881
Experience Christmas morning 1881 when Thomas and Alice opened their handmade gifts (possibly ethical?!).
Christmas Tree Trimming in 1913
See the Wilson family decorating their 1913 Christmas tree with care to keep ornaments away from their cat (some things never change!).
A Pilot’s Solo Christmas in 1937
Feel the melancholy of an Imperial Airways pilot spending Christmas 1937 alone during a short layover, I’m sure the free flights made up for it though.
Christmas During the Winter of Discontent in 1978
Experience a 1970s Christmas in Hackney during the “Winter of Discontent” era of hardship where The McMillan family tries to stay warm huddled around a paraffin heater in their sitting room.
Indian Family Life in 1980s Britain
Inspired by personal experiences, this 1980s room captures an Indian diaspora family embracing both cultures. My personal favourite, because I too grew up in a home that tried to embrace both cultures.