What a joy to discover what Christmas was like for the orphans at the Ashley Down Orphanage. Sounds like there was a lot of joy in the Homes.
There were three events each year that were marked for celebration: Mr Müller's birthday on 27 September, Christmas, and the PurDown summer outing.
Christmas was an especially happy time. Each House had a large Christmas tree to decorate and every child had a present. Staff opened small sweet shops (Christmas Shop) in each of the buildings, where the children were allowed to spend 8d on sweets that were purchased from local manufacturers and sold at cost.
Those with relatives would receive parcels or money of which some of it would be put into a common pool so that those without would also receive something on Christmas Day.
These are just some of the nostalgic references to Christmas from former orphans, in their 70/80s who wrote to us and were included in our Annual Reports from the 50s.
“I was in Number 2 for seven years. I always enjoyed Christmas with all the games and putting up the decorations. I was very happy and enjoyed my stay there.”
“ Well do I remember the happy Christmases spent at No. 4; the start of the preparations for the decorations; the arrival of the great, big Christmas tree, nothing on it but I knew before Christmas it would be loaded with toys and presents; and somewhere amongst the many there would be one for me”
“I imagine the decorations being got ready, and the secrecy of it all, and then learning the lovely carols, and the Christmas Shop!”
You can see some more pictures in our photo gallery.
Information from Nancy Garton’s book ‘George Muller and His Orphans’, Chilvers Press, Bath