Turning Back Time, Christmas in the 1900’s!
Christmas is a nostalgic time of year for most, especially for those in the hospitality industry. We're a popular eating & drinking spot in the Birmingham and have been since its foundation in 1905. The recent restoration and repositioning of The King’s Head Clock by Sandwell Council has given us at the King’s Head even more of a reason to reflect on the past and celebrate old Christmas customs – we've put together a list of what we believe the Festive period would have been like at the venue all those years ago.
The King’s Head Coaching Station:
One of the most famous landlords of The King’s Head is Albert ‘Bert’ Tudor who looked over the site from 1921-1945. Bert had a long and expansive career and looked after venues such as the Jeweller’s Arms in Hockley Street and the Coach and Horses on the Soho Road before he moved to The King’s Head for the next 24 years. He was described as ‘larger than life’, jovial and a little rotund – The classic pub landlord!
The King’s Head would have looked significantly different than it does today, and by 1920 The King’s Head was well established and played an integral part in the local community. The function room upstairs once held awards events and ceremonies and the bar stretched along the wall made from a deep mahogany with intricate carvings and decorative mirrors. The King’s Head was built for the Holt Brewery Co. in 1905 in a fashionable Tudor style by architects Owen and Ward. There still remains a few original features to the venue, and the decorative green tiles surrounding the staircase are something you don’t see often any more. In recent years, The King’s Head have had a mural created for their outside terrace designed by Jane Anderson at her studio in The Custard Factory.
‘Stir Up Sunday’:
One of the most famous Christmas traditions of the era was to make the Christmas Pudding – made popular by Prince Albert – on the last Sunday before Advent, known as ‘Stir Up Sunday’. The head of the family would add a silver sixpence into the Christmas pudding mix and then each family member would take a turn to mix the pudding and make a wish. If the sixpence was found in your slice of pudding on Christmas Day, it was thought to bring success, health and happiness for the coming year. The staff at The King’s Head have had a go this year, and would recommend it to any family looking for a way of bringing everyone together this year!
A typical Christmas Dinner in 1920’s centred on a Roast Goose as most would not be able to afford the extravagance of turkey or ham. This would be served alongside a selection of home grown vegetables and homemade stuffing. Many of the traditions of Christmas Dinner are passed on through generations as a reflection of their own fond Christmas memories. In a 1929 homemaking book, it was suggested that it didn’t matter what was cooked on Christmas Day, as long as it was the same every year as it was believed that children loved repetition and it would encourage fond memories for later in life.
Dependent on the class of a family, Christmas dinner would have ended with a glass of sherry, brandy or a classic 1920’s cocktail such as a Mint Julep containing Bourbon, sugar, water and mint leaves. It’s apparently a favourite for Jo Scone, marketing manager at The King’s Head, and really easy to recreate yourself.
Jo Scone has said “We love it when families come together to dine with us at Christmas time. It makes us wonder how many people over the years will have come to The King’s Head for their Christmas Lunch or an after dinner tipple. The place has so much character, and we are really proud of how old it is and how popular it still is within the community. We hope to see some of our fabulous regulars, and trust that 2016 will bring another great year for The King’s Head!”