Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | December 15, 2009

Time travelling to Dickens’ London

My family has a few traditions for the holiday season.  We kick off with creating an offrenda for Halloween/Day of the Dead, mosey over to the great gastronomical planning for Thanksgiving, and schedule a night to go see the Christmas Revels.  This year we added a new tradition to the list: attending the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

Historical play seems to be a hobby that my family is drawn to.  We started doing Renaissance Faires 2 years ago as a way to find a way for staying connected with a teenager interested in drama.  So it makes sense that we’ve embraced time travelling to London of the mid-1800s.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair recreates the London streets of Charles Dickens between the 1840s and 1860s (  A Christmas Carol was written in 1836, and was a hit immediately.  The characters from the book, as well as Mr. Dickens and his family and the young Queen Victoria and her Prince Albert, roam the streets of the fair.  There are also other characters of Dickens and his contemporaries.  You might meet Captain Nemo, The Queen of Hearts, or Fagin.  There are lectures from adventurers to the North Pole or the dark jungles of Africa, there are chimney sweeps and shopkeepers to pass the time of day with, there are smells of candied nuts and baked goods, there are the sounds of carols and messengers and games.  The traveler from 2009 is very likely to get sucked into the crowded shops to try on a bonnet or top hat.

This means of course that my daughter and I want to be dressed appropriately for window shopping and catching a performance.  Petticoats were done first.  Husby bought me a basic dress for our anniversary this year.  I got to customize it and accessorize.  (Thank goodness for thrift stores and fabric stash of friends and family.)

Last week I found myself surrounded by piles of fabric for a jacket and skirt for the Daughter.


The relatively calm sewing table


It took me TWO DAYS to get the sleeves worked out in the wool and lining for Daughter’s zouave jacket.  (I’m not a great sewer, just a determined one.  And now my seamstress friend tells me that modifying set in sleeves is a really advanced skill…geesh!)  Trimming my bodice and sewing undersleeves are next on the list.  I knit the black lace fingerless mittens using a the Always & Forever Fingerless Mitts pattern found on Ravelry.

We also took Daughter’s Boyfriend.  This was the first time that the young man interacted with Husby and myself for an extended amount of time. (Longer than “hi Mr. B., hi Mrs. B. “)  Daughter had warned him that costumed visitors fit in better and have more fun than mundane dressed.  I loved the fact that we threw him into a world where being a cool, reserved teenager doesn’t fit well…he responded pretty well to being dumped into a world far removed from his usual comfort zone.  I loved the fact that some of our faire friends got  the chance to meet him and give him a look over.

Here are some pictures of our trip to the fair.


The Boy, Daughter, Self in costume



Phileas Fogg giving a lecture on giant squids at La Legion Fantastique



Singers at Mad Sal's


If you want to take your own trip  next weekend is the last weekend!  So set the way back machine and get there!




  1. Oooh! That sounds like so much fun. Maybe I can talk my crew into going next year–or this weekend perhaps? Dunno. I love dress up too.

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