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Christmas in the 1820s

Undated Christmas Card
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

A Christmas PAST

Each Christmas I have trawled my through my personal collection and written a seasonal article for the website. This year is no different, and I have copied verbatim two notices that appeared in the Brighton Gazette during the Christmas week of 1821. It is evident, from perusing old newspapers and other documents, how very different Christmas is now from that of nearly 200 years ago. Consumerism might be the force that nowadays dominates the Christmas period from October onwards, but it is worth taking some time to reflect that for most subjects of George IV, this was still very much a religious festival. Very few ordinary folk had the wherewithal to partake of lavish celebrations for Christmas and for them it was a simpler, more austere occasion. The first item reveals the dominance the church still held within society at that time. The second is a misguided charitable gesture (most such preparations contained opiates and/or laudanum), which might nowadays raise eyebrows in terms of advertising standards.


The CHURCHWARDENS hereby inform all Tradesmen, Shopkeepers and others whom it may concern, that after this public notice the Beadles will be directed to lay information against all persons who shall be found exposing goods for sale on the LORD’S DAY. And it is respectfully, but earnestly requested, that all respectable inhabitants and visitors of the town, will prohibit their servants from applying to trades-people for goods on the Lord’s Day, since this practice is assigned as one great cause of the evil, which it is the object of this notice to remove.

Edward Blaker    }
Robert Ackerson }    Churchwardens
Richard Bodle    }

A Real Christmas-box

At this critical season, when children are teething, they suffer more pain than any other time of the year, very few escaping convulsions; it is particularly requested of every mother and nurse that have young children, not to be without the AMERICAN SOOTHING SYRUP in the nursery, as it gives immediate relief. Mrs. Johnson feeling for the poor at a time like this, when so many are out of employ, wishing to relieve these dear little sufferers, has given them a real Christmas-box, by extending her charity one hour longer, that is to say 9 to 11 every Tuesday and Saturday morning, until next March and then as usual (while the days are so short, and hundreds living at a great distance, cannot get their children to her house in time), they must bring a letter from  a respectable Housekeeper, that they are real objects of this charity. Mrs. J. hopes at the same time that so great a charity will not be abused, as it is entirely out of her own private purse, and trusts that persons who can afford to purchase the syrup, will not injure the poor, by obtaining what is intended for their relief.

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