Christmas Past

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Geffrye Museum

A living room in 1965 © Geffrye Museum/Chris Ridley

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Geffrye Museum

A living room in 1935 © Geffrye Museum/Steve Speller

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© Geffrye Museum / James O'Davies

A living room in 1935 (detail)

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© Steve Speller
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© Geffrye Museum / Steve Spiller

A 1998 room

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© Geffrye Museum / Jane Lloyd

A room in 1830 (detail)

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Christmas Past: A drawing room in 1830 © Geffrye Museum/Chris Ridley

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© Geffrye Museum / Jane Lloyd

A drawing room in 1910 (detail)

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The Geffrye Museum

A drawing room in 1870 © Geffrye Museum/Chris Ridley

Free

One of London's prettiest attractions, tucked into a cleverly converted alms-house building, the Geffrye Museum in east London traces changes in middle-class taste in interior design from 1600 to the present day through a series of period room settings. At this time of year, a few carefully researched festive touches are added to each space: a spray of greenery here, a bauble there; nothing very flashy. In fact, nothing much at all until the Victorian room where the Christmas tree and Christmas cards make an appearance.

There are numerous schools of thought about the point at which it's appropriate to start planning Christmas. For department stores, it's the first week in July; at the other extreme there's a happy band of people who favour 4pm on December 24 (and tend to do their Christmas shopping at petrol station supermarkets). Others take their cue from this annual show. Modest though it is, there's something rather magical about 'Christmas Past'. Fans of this gem of a museum tend to make an annual pilgrimage to stock up on great Christmas cards from the museum shop and savour the show's seasonal charm.

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