A story from Christmas past: From Lawrence House Museum

Here at Life, we are signed up to the Lawrence House Museum monthly newsletter, ‘The Carrier Pigeon’, and we just had to share this interesting story from a Christmas in 1910 provided by Carol Bunbury in the latest edition of the newsletter. It just goes to show how the spirit of Christmas can bring everyone together.


Christmas lunch in the workhouse 1910

An article appeared in the Cornish & Devon Post of 31st December 1910 reporting the hardships suffered by the inmates of the workhouse over Christmas. Local people had clubbed together to give presents of illustrated newspapers, books and toys for the children, sweets, biscuits, cakes and fruits, with plenty of tea and tobacco.

The inmates were pressed into service to decorate parts of the workhouse. The Board Room was ‘prettily decorated’ and the kitchens and wards looked ‘very homely and cheerful’. The staff decorated the main hall and transformed it into ‘a veritable fairyland’ where ‘Father Christmas came in for a large share of admiration, especially from the younger folk’.

On Christmas Eve the Master and Matron distributed gifts and the Master filled the children’s stockings.

On Christmas morning there was carol singing and church, followed by a Christmas lunch of ‘roast beef, roast pork, plain pudding, turnips, potatoes, cabbage, winding up with plum pudding and tea was the fare provided, and there was no restriction’. The ‘only complaint heard...was that they could eat no more!’

On Boxing Day there was a concert in the evening in the men’s ward. So ended the Christmas festivities!