Christmas Tree Festival

Ampthill and District Preservation Society are exhibiting “A Tudor Christmas” in St. Andrews Christmas Tree Festival which is happening on 2nd and 3rd December 2023.

Imagine you have found yourself back in Tudor times. It is December 1526, and the small town of Ampthill is situated on the edge of one of Henry VIII’s favourite hunting lodges. As in years past, the residents are preparing for this special time. However, while some parts of the Tudor celebrations would be recognised today, others would not.

Christmas trees were not a tradition adopted by the Tudors.

A Tudor Christmas saw homes decorated on Christmas Eve with mistletoe, holly, ivy, yew and laurel, such as in the kissing bough shown above, and carols were sung.

Notice the pomegranate hung in pride of place in the centre of the bough in honour of the Queen, Katherine of Aragon. The pomegranate is her favourite heraldic badge.

Christmas was also about rest for the Tudors and was a time when work on the land stopped and women stopped spinning.

Flowers were put on the spinning wheels to stop their use.

As a nod to Henry VIII, we have created our Tudor Rose flowers from recycled books rather than real flowers

The day before Christmas, Tudor families would also have chosen a large log then decorated it with ribbons to be laid on the hearth. It was then kept alight throughout the twelve days of Christmas (25 December to 5 January).

As in Tudor times, the log and greenery used in this display have been gathered with permission from Ampthill Great Park, and we are grateful to Phil for all his help with this.

So come to the Tree Festival this weekend, see our entry amongst over 40 ‘Trees’ (and maybe cast your vote for ours!) Full details and a link, below: