Christmas Greetings of Old

BH box166 bdle29 3

The older I get, the quicker the years seem to go by. I can’t believe that we are getting ready to do Christmas tours at Browsholme Hall already. The archive work goes on apace and it was with some sadness that I read a letter from Ellen Parker, daughter of Thomas Goulborne Parker and his wife Mary Ann (neé Carr). It is an undated letter, probably sent in the mid 1860s but it was definitely at Christmas time because the letter is written on headed notepaper saying “Wishing you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.”

Ellen is obviously not at home during the festive season as the letter is sent from 8 Eton Villas, Provost Rd, South Hampstead, London NW. Ellen sends her best wishes to her family for Christmas and says that she “arrived in London safely and that the house is nice and is nearly out of London. Visited Nelson’s Monument and Shoreditch.” On another visit to Cambridge, she reports that she walked from Kings Bridge to St John’s Bridge but also has an alarming report “Five men fell in at Trinity, none of them drowned but one man broke his leg and another cut his forehead.” It is not known whether Ellen was spending Christmas with relatives or friends but she was obviously not at home with her parents and siblings.

Was this headed notepaper common? We have no idea. But Christmas cards were relatively new in those days. They were first invented by an entrepreneurial business man in 1843 who wanted to advertise his forthcoming sale to his friends and business customers. His name was Sir Henry Cole. He commissioned John Calcott Horsley to create a card that wished all his customers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and then mentioned his business! And so Christmas cards were created, which is a multi million pound industry today, whether you love them or loathe them!

So however many cards you send, or whether you are with family, friends or alone, may we all at Browsholme wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And the archive tales will continue from me next year. Watch this space!

The Letter from Ellen Parker
1860's, The Letter from Ellen Parker

by Linda Sawley

Dec 04, 2023

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