UPDATED: Christmas at Sea: 400 Years of the Festive Season Afloat

Lucy Dale's picture

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December 7, 2021
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Maritime History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Social History / Studies

Date and Time: Tuesday 7 December | 5.15pm - 6.45pm

When most people think of Christmas, they probably picture it on land, yet many have found themselves at sea during this festival throughout history.

Join us for a free online talk addressing this intriguing and often overlooked topic. Focusing largely on British ships, our panel of experts will discuss the experience of spending Christmas at sea from 1600 onwards.

What did sailors and passengers do to mark Christmas? How did eating, drinking, socialising and worshiping differ when done at sea? How did events such as the Interregnum and the Second World War, as well as changing understandings of Christmas, influence the festive season afloat? Was spending Christmas at sea better or worse than spending it on land?

Our panelists include:

  • Richard Blakemore (University of Reading) - 1600s
  • Ellen Gill (Independent Scholar) – 1700s
  • Maya Wassell-Smith (Royal Museums Greenwich & Cardiff University) – 1800s
  • Brian Lavery (Royal Museums Greenwich) – 1900s

Each panelist will give a short presentation on the experience of spending Christmas at sea in a specific era, before taking questions from attendees. Covering Stuart sailing vessels to warships of the 1940s, this seminar will put the tide back in yuletide.

Event Details

This event is free and open to everyone, and will take place via Zoom. There is no need to book; please click on the link below shortly before 5.15pm on the day.

Join the event

Contact Info: 

Lucy Dale

Contact Email: