It may be Christmas week but our presses have not stopped, bringing you a special Christmas cornucopia of new and updated titles, the perfect festive present from the Archive.
With 126,524 brand new pages added, including four brand new titles and updates to twenty five of our existing titles, get ready to discover this week’s fare on the Archive, which spans three centuries’ worth of headlines. Read on to also discover more about how an Edwardian Christmas was celebrated at Sandringham and at London’s most fashionable hotels.
Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s new titles. We begin with the American Register, a weekly publication which catered to wealthy Americans in Britain and on the continent. The American Register was founded by American dentist Thomas W. Evans in 1868 in Paris. Evans worked for rich and famous Parisians, and counted Napoleon III as one of his clients. Indeed, he even helped the Emperor’s wife, the Empress Eugénie, escape Paris in 1870.
The American Register became the first American newspaper to be published in Paris, and soon it produced editions printed in London and in Brussels. Representing the ‘Official Organ of Americans in Europe,’ the American Register also claimed to have the ‘Largest Circulation of any Anglo-American Newspaper in Europe,’ circulating ‘weekly in all the Principal Hotels, Clubs, Restaurants in the World.’
Moreover, the newspaper claimed to be ‘so well-known and so respected by French people for the impartiality of its politics and its continuous efforts to promote a good understanding between the Latin and Anglo-Saxon races.’
So what could you expect to find in the pages of the American Register? Well, you could find details of American visitors to London and Europe, and at which hotels they were staying. For example, the American Register announces how ‘Miss Alice Jackson, of New York,’ has arrived at the Hotel Brighton, Paris.
You could find all the latest society news, covering engagements between wealthy Americans and British aristocrats, a real who’s who of American high society at that time, and a treasure trove of gossip from both sides of the channel (and the Atlantic). You will find entries something akin to celebrity news sites of the day, with entries like this:
Lady Bateman has been seen shopping in the West End nearly every day during the past week.
The American Register is at times a delightfully snobbish affair, delighting in all things aristocratic and reveling in its idea of ‘Englishness,’ and especially of ‘Old England.’ Read on to discover how it reported on a high society Christmas of 1907.
Our next new title this week is the Liverpool Weekly Courier, which was the weekly edition of the Liverpool Courier. The Liverpool Courier was founded as a Conservative publication in 1808, featuring political news, news on departing and arriving ships and their cargoes, as well as featuring birth, marriage and death notices. The Liverpool Weekly Courier appeared every Saturday, priced at one penny, and contained stories by the likes of Wilkie Collins, and a regular feature entitled ‘Feminine Facts and Fancies.’
Next up is the Penistone, Stocksbridge and Hoyland Express. Published in the South Yorkshire market town of Penistone, near Barnsley, this independent publication was established in 1894 and was a localised edition of the South Yorkshire Times. Appearing every Saturday priced at one penny, this newspaper also covered Chapeltown, Hillsborough, Wadsley, Ecclesfield, Oughtsbirdge, Deepcar and Thurlstone.
Our final new title of the week is the Birkenhead News. Established in 1877, it appeared every Saturday again priced at one penny. With a Liberal stance, it circulated ‘in Birkenhead and the district of West Cheshire.’ This newspaper made ‘a feature of local and district intelligence,’ also containing ‘a selection of general news.’
We have a plethora of updated titles this week (twenty five in all), covering headlines from Nantwich to Newcastle, from Brighouse to Bridgend, from St Helens to Stratford. Of particular note are the over 6,000 pages we have added to the Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette, which cover the early 1920s. Another highlight are the eighteenth century pages that we have added to one of Chester’s earliest newspapers, the Chester Courant.
We’ve also added new pages to two of our Scottish titles, the North British Daily Mail, published in Glasgow, as well as to the Daily Review (Edinburgh). You can find a complete list of all our updates week at the end of this blog.
An Edwardian High Society Christmas
With it being Christmas week, we thought we’d dive into the pages of the American Register to find out what Christmas celebrations were like in the Edwardian period. We were not disappointed, as the American Register gives a full account of how high society celebrated the festive season in 1907.
For any ‘Society people who have decided to pass the Christmas holidays in town,’ the American Register on 21 December 1907 describes how ‘several of the big West-end hotels have made elaborate arrangements for their accommodation during the festive season.’
Perhaps the most ‘elaborate arrangements’ could be found at the Carlton, where the Palm Court had been cleared of all furniture, its ‘marble floor…covered with four inches of snow, sparkling with frost crystals.’ The American Register goes on to describe how:
Special snow scenery has been painted, on which will be depicted scenes of winter sports, all typically English. There will be a village inn, with sign-post and horse-trough, a real donkey to wander as he will about the village. In the middle of the village the indispensable Christmas tree, laden with good things, will rise to the very dome of the Palm Court, and high up, in an old-time musicians’ gallery, the Carlton orchestra will play the waits.
This Christmas celebration particularly catered for children, ‘many of whom are brought from long distances’ to visit the Carlton. The children would be greeted upon arrival by ‘two beautiful snow maidens, who, it is pointed out, will be quite real,’ and given a ticket ‘with a number corresponding with one of the presents under the tree.’ Typical gifts included ‘trumpets, motor horns, and other instruments.’
As a side note, the American Register relates how the artificial snow had been created by using borax, and how the hotel’s management ‘is in a reckless Christmas mood, and is determined to have snow if the hotel is boraxed from top to bottom.’
Meanwhile at the Ritz, a ‘special supper will be served on Christmas Day, and the hotel will be brightly decorated and illuminated.’ A ball was to be held at the prestigious establishment on New Year’s Eve, ‘one of the most brilliant of the London season. Many distinguished society persons will be present, and all the tables for supper have been long since reserved.’
But the Savoy would not be celebrating Christmas Day. On ‘New Year’s Eve, however, fifteen hundred people have booked supper tables at that hotel,’ with the manager Mr Pruger talking ‘darkly of a tremendous surprise’ which he had in store for the guests.
But how were ‘the very highest family in the land’ set to be celebrating? The American Register was keen to describe a Royal Christmas to its readers, relating on the 14 December 1907 how Queen Alexandra had been to town with Queen Maud of Norway, keeping ‘busy with their Christmas shopping.’
Then, as tradition dictates, ‘the Royal Family will repair to their beautiful Norfolk home at Sandringham.’ The American Register gives the following account of the Christmas proceedings in the Royal household:
On Christmas Day most of the members of the Royal Family will assemble in the large hall at Sandringham House. By every plate and on the sideboards will be piled presents, and – well, just as it happens in any other happy household on this morning – there will be far more undoing of parcels than of eating. Punctually at eleven o’clock the King, the Queen, and all the Royal Family will gather at service in the little church, which is always beautifully decorated. After church there will be the children’s dinner at Sandringham House, with roast beef and turkey, and a noble pudding, blazing high and holly-crowned.
And as if this wasn’t enough, ‘just as day gives place to night, the ballroom…will be thrown open’ to reveal the Christmas tree, complete with the ‘blaze of candles and winking presents trembling from its loaded branches.’ According to the American Register, this tree will have been decorated by Queen Alexandra and her daughters.
The American Register goes on to relate how ‘after the tree has been denuded of its fairy burden come games with the children, and then their elders will sit down to bridge, or reading, or letter-writing until the time comes to dress for dinner at 8.45.’
The newspaper then describes the final event of the day, dinner, which one would be forgiven for thinking represented some kind of feudal feast, a comparison the American Register does not shy away from:
Boar’s head, a huge baron of beef, and of course, turkey, will be the chief dishes on the board, to which all the suite, as well as the Royal Family, will sit themselves down. It will be a merry, and not at all ceremonious gathering – a right-down English ending to a real Old English Christmas Day.
And as we leave the Edwardian Royal Family tucking into their feast, we take this opportunity to wish our subscribers and friends a very Merry Christmas. It will be, of course, a different one this year, and we look forward to a time when we can return to these grand old celebrations of Christmases past.
|American Register||1873-1883, 1888, 1890-1893, 1897-1899, 1901, 1904-1907, 1909-1911, 1913-1914|
|Liverpool Weekly Courier||1881, 1883-1890, 1892-1893, 1895, 1897|
|Penistone, Stocksbridge and Hoyland Express||1908-1911, 1913-1917|
|Birkenhead News||1881-1890, 1892-1896, 1900-1907, 1909-1910, 1913, 1915-1920|
This week we have updated twenty five of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.