Singing from a different Hymn sheet

‘While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night’ is one of the best-known Christmas carols. It is based on the Annunciation to the shepherds, as described in the Gospel of St Luke. An angel appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem and told them of the birth of Jesus in a scene that has …

A back-of-the-envelope history of Christmas cards

If you were asked to guess what the very first Christmas card depicted, what would your answer be? Most people (according to an unofficial poll of my colleagues) thought either a Nativity scene or possibly one of a snowy landscape. Sensible ideas, but both wrong. The first Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 by Sir …

Christmas Closure

Manuscripts and Special Collections will be open up to and including Christmas Eve, Wednesday 24th December. We are closed from Thursday 25th December 2014, and will re-open at 9am on Monday 5th January 2015. During this period the Reading Room will not be open for visitors and we will be unable to answer enquiries. To find opening times …

Christmas in the Collections

What image symbolises Christmas to you? Do you think of choirs of angels round a manger, or Father Christmas leaving presents under a tree decorated with baubles? Perhaps you take inspiration from the natural world and would choose a robin or mistletoe. References to Christmas are scattered throughout the collections at Manuscripts and Special Collections. This beautiful image …