Skip to main content

Future exhibitions and displays

Christmas Past: 400 Years of Seasonal Traditions in English Homes

Tuesday 25 November 2014 - Sunday 4 January 2015.  Free admission

Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day

1935 period room at Christmas Past - photography Steve Speller

A 1935 living room at Christmas Past / photography Steve Speller

Each year, the Geffrye Museum’s eleven period living rooms are transformed with authentic festive decorations, lighting, music and greenery to give visitors a magical glimpse into how Christmas has been celebrated in English middle-class homes over the past 400 years. A perennial favourite, many visitors say that the Christmas Past exhibition has become an essential part of their own Yuletide traditions.

Step back through the centuries and discover the origins and meanings of some of the rich and vibrant traditions of Christmas past, from feasting, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe to playing parlour games, hanging up stockings, sending cards, decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties.

The accompanying programme of events will focus on the 18th century in celebration of the tri-centenary of the museum’s almshouse buildings. Highlights include festive greenery workshops, a concert by candlelight, a special open evening, exhibition talks and ‘Farewell to Christmas’ – the Geffrye’s traditional burning of the Christmas greenery, with carol singing, stories about Epiphany and a taste of mulled wine and Twelfth night cake.

Access the press release here. View our Christmas Past image gallery.

Homes of the Homeless: Seeking Shelter in Victorian London

Tuesday 24 March - Sunday 12 July 2015. Admission £5 / £3 concessions.

A Recess on a London Bridge by Augustus Edwin Mulready (detail), oil on canvas, 1879. Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK / © Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums / Bridgeman Images

A Recess on a London Bridge (detail) by Augustus Edwin Mulready, oil on canvas, 1879. Laing Art Gallery, 
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK / © Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums / Bridgeman Images

We tend to imagine the Victorian home as a family affair, a place of stability and a retreat from the outside world. But for huge numbers of Londoners the reality was very different. Tens of thousands made their homes in lodgings and lodging houses, renting a room or a bed in a building shared with strangers. Countless others could not afford to rent and were forced to turn to the workhouse and to shelters or slept rough in whatever shelter they could find.

This exhibition tells the story of this 'other' London, exploring the places the poor inhabited and bringing them to life through paintings, photographs, and objects, as well as through personal stories and reports.

A programme of special events and talks will run throughout the exhibition.  Read the exhibition press release.

Corporate keyhole logo for Geffrye Museum