Did Oliver Cromwell really ban Christmas – or is that just a myth?
Perhaps ironically, the former home of the man rumoured to have banned Christmas will be opening its doors to visitors this festive season to celebrate Christmas through the ages.
Perhaps you’d like to find out how Cromwellians celebated the festive season? Maybe tasting old recipes is more your thing? Or you’d like to brave ‘A Cruel and Creepy Christmas’ tour with the infamous Professor A Bismal, taking in the darker side of Yuletide?
Whatever floats your boat, the Lord Protector’s former residence will be opening its doors to visitors as part of its ‘Behind Closed Doors’ season throughout December, offering everything from guided tours and talks to festive food tastings.
The trail is a chance to learn more about Christmas traditions as well as hear what the Cromwell’s might have said about some of ways that homes are decorated today. The trail explains how families did indeed celebrate Christmas in Cromwellian times – even if it was behind closed doors.
‘Festive Food’ with Nora Gardner on December 6 gives visitors a further chance to discover how Christmas was celebrated in secret during the Commonwealth. Explore the ingredients and flavours that inspired 17th Century Christmas meals with a local guide and historian and watch and sample old recipes being cooked in Mrs Cromwell’s original kitchen.
Professor Martyn Bennett, author of internationally acclaimed works on the English civil wars and a popular biography of Oliver Cromwell will present “Cromwell, Christmas and Confusion” on December 14 at 7pm. Professor Bennett’s newest publication ‘Cromwell at War’ will also be available to purchase on the night.
On December 21 and 22 December, Professor A Bismal will be holding his “Cruel and Creepy Christmas” tours, taking visitors through the history of Christmas traditions from the times of King George the IV through the World War One trenches and finishing up with a Christmas tale from the Victorian era.
Tracey Harding, tourism and town centres manager said: “With guided winter walks also running throughout the festive period, we are thrilled to be able to offer such a wide variety of Christmas events this year and hope that there is something for everyone to enjoy”.