On Christmas Eve we wanted to share a few festive items from our collection.

Yesterday we looked at what happened when Bond author Ian Fleming met a drunk Norwiegan spy with two smuggled Christmas Trees

Today we wanted to share a few other festive items from our collection.

Deciding what to pack for a Christmas trip wasn't such an issue in 1822. This drawing from our collection made on Christmas Day shows a Stage Coach laden with hampers and game.

Stage Coach laden with hampers and game
Stage Coach laden with hampers and game

What December cruise would be complete without an appearance from Santa Claus? Landing a sleigh on a moving ship miles out at sea could hold a number of problems so in 1965 Santa decided to visit while firmly on land.  

Christmas aboard the 'Empress of England'
Christmas aboard the 'Empress of England'

 

Who need's a chimney when you can scale an even bigger funnel? In the 1960's the allure of climbing down the side of the Oriana proved too much to keep him away.

Santa Claus climbing grill above the Bridge on Oriana, 1960
Santa Claus climbing grill above the Bridge on Oriana, 1960

Though it wasn't always fun and games on Christmas Day. Sea-travel was a risky business and over the festive period disaster could strike the same as any other time. On 25 December 1811 HMS Hero, under captain James Newman-Newman, was wrecked on the Haak Sands at the mouth of the Texel during a gale, with the loss of all but 12 of her crew.

The wreck of HMS Hero in the Texel, 25 December 1811
The wreck of HMS Hero in the Texel, 25 December 1811

War time could also put an end to any Christmas festivities. On Christmas Day 1943, the Scharnhorst and several destroyers sailed out from Norway to attack Russia bound Arctic convoys. Their intentions had been decoded by the British and the Royal Navy was able to intercept. On Boxing Day, following a running fight lasting about three hours, she was finally stopped, surrounded and sunk - of a total complement of 1,968 men, only 36 survivors were rescued.

Sinking of the Scharnhorst, 1943
Sinking of the Scharnhorst, 1943

Though even in wartime the festive season could be a time of aid. The caption on this image describes the 1944 Christmas relief of Wolf Rock lighthouse. The lighthouse keepers had to be winched on and off the boat, something which became impossible during rough weather.

Christmas relief of Wolf Rock Lighthouse
Christmas relief of Wolf Rock Lighthouse

Christmas is also a time of giving and there are a number of items in our collection which know originated as Christmas presents. This sextant comes with a handwritten label stating ‘Helen, Francis & Gordon gave this instrument to Father Christmas 1907’. With the amount of navigation Father Christmas has to do in the run up to Christmas morning we can see how a sextant could come in handy!

Father Christmas' Double Frame Bridge Sextant
Christmas Double Frame Bridge Sextant

Our archive is also full of seasonal material relating to Christmas celebrations from Christmas cards to seasonal menus, for more information or to browse our collection visit the website.

Blank menu card for Christmas meal
Blank menu card for Christmas meal

Our museums are closed from 24–26 December but we remain open over the New Year period. From everyone at Royal Museums Greenwich we wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope to see you soon!

Royal Observatory Greenwich in the snow
Royal Observatory Greenwich in the snow