The Keeping of Christmas
Experience Fairfax House in all its glory as it celebrates The Keeping of Christmas with a magnificent festive installation inspired by the traditions of the eighteenth century.
See the Georgians’ love of the natural world as they decorated their homes for Christmas, as well as their festive food, extravagant dining table displays, elegant decorations, and remarkable Twelfth Night Cake.
Fairfax House specialises in the eighteenth century Christmas traditions, far removed from the Victorian celebrations which followed, and many of which remain today. Each November and December, Fairfax House is decorated throughout, not with the tinsel, baubles and Christmas trees known to so many, but with a stunning display of evergreens that shows the Georgians’ love of the natural world. The library is set with a delicious Christmas day breakfast complete with a luxurious Yorkshire pie and whole cheddar cheese set within a mahogany cradle. In the Kitchen, a Kissing Bough is suspended and makes a decorative focal point at Christmas. An ancient North Country tradition, this sphere of evergreens is circled by a crown of candles at the top and hung beneath with a ring of apples surrounding a central bough of mistletoe.
The magnificent dining room display with beautiful silver, table decorations, elaborate parterres of sugar sand and sculptures, and examples of Georgian sweetmeats and ice-creams is a focal point for the festive decorations. It is here in the dining room that an amazing Twelfth Cake is on display. An important tradition of the eighteenth-century Christmas festivities, twelfth cakes were an integral part of the Twelfth night revels on the Feast of Epiphany (6th January). It was a riotous night of feasting, dressing up as characters, and of course consuming a lavish Twelfth cake. This once famous tradition has since languished but Fairfax House brings it alive once again with a spectacular recreation by internationally-renowned food historian Ivan Day. Surmounted by gilded crowns, this cake (also known as a wassail cake) is faithful to the eighteenth century, and lavishly decorated using original carved wooden moulds.