WWI Home for Christmas – #ChristmasCountdown Door no. 24

Door no. 24

The Newcastle University Special Collections team
would like to wish you all a very

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital, 1915 (University Archives, NUA/014017-25)

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital, 1915 (University Archives, NUA/014017-26)

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital, 1915 (University Archives, NUA/014017-27)

These 3 postcards consist of images taken on the wards of the 1st Northern General and feature both patients in flannel suits and ties, Royal Army Medical Corps personnel in uniforms, nurses, and the matron.

During the First World War the building that now houses the Hatton Gallery was requisitioned to house the 1st Northern General Hospital. This was normal practice throughout the war years, as army hospitals were needed across the country and on a large scale. The Fine Art building in which you are now standing was then part of Armstrong College, Durham University.

A note on the back of all 3 tell us they were taken around Christmas 1915 on wards on the ground floor of the Armstrong Building and were sent by a ‘D. Robinson’ to an address in Corbridge, Northumberland.

Find out more about how the First World War impacted on Newcastle University 100 years on through using original photographs and documents from the University Archives in ‘A Higher Purpose: Newcastle University at War‘ online digital exhibition.

24th December – Santa Claus Poem


To finish our #Christmaschsirtmas countdown blogs we have found a jolly poem called ‘Santa Claus’. The above poem is taken from ‘The Big Christmas Wonder Book’. The book comprises of short children’s poems as well as short and longer stories, amongst various illustrations.

This book is part of the Joan Butler Collection.

23rd December – Foxes in the Snow

The Common Fox

Probably every Englishman thinks he knows the common fox sufficiently well to run no risk of confounding it with any other animal…

The ordinary English fox, as represented in our coloured plate, is of reddish brown colour above, white beneath, while the outer surfaces of the ears, and portions of those of the limbs are black, and the extreme tip of the tail is white. Occasionally, however, the tip of the tail may be dark grey, or even black, while in one specimen caught in Warwickshire, the whole of the under-parts were greyish black. The total length of the head and body may vary from 27 to 46 inches, and that of the tail from 12 to 15 inches.

Extract taken from The Royal Natural History, Vol. I, edited by Richard Lydekker, B.A., F.G.S, F.Z.S, Etc.
Contains coloured plates and illustrations, with the above plate illustrated by W. Kuhnert.

This book is part of the 19th Century Collection and can be found here.

22nd December – The Northerner; December 1912


Christmas advert taken from the December 1912 edition of The Northerner; the magazine of Armstrong College produced by the students.


At this most festive occasion of the year we find to our sorrow that the well-known Christmas phrases of peace and goodwill which should fall glibly enough from the Editorial lips, obstinately refuse to come. For this we must apologize, yet the fault is not in us, but in those Superior Beings who have ordained in their Great Wisdom that it is good to be examined at Christmas. Aristotle, who was never examined as far as we know, said that the true Happiness of Man lay in the performance of his Function according to Goodness, and the Authorities, taking him at his word, have decided that as the function of the Undergrad. is to pass examinations, then, quite logically, only by passing examinations “according to goodness” (i.e., by getting a 1st), can his Christmas be really a Happy one. Truly a philanthropic motive, for which we should be grateful, but man is notoriously the most ungrateful of all the animals. But really, and seriously, it is very unkind of Mr. Pruen, for we believe he is the culprit. Does Mr. Pruen never go to Dances, to Whist-drives? Has he never wandered blithely back home, after seeing One most Adorable to her residence, at say, 2 a.m.? Surely in his young and irresponsible days these things must happened occasionally, and we ask him, how can a man at one and the same time dance the merry measure, and chase the chemical formula to its lair, or writhe beneath the torture of the Anglo-Saxon Primer. But if Mr. Pruen is not the culprit, but the Professors, then we subscribe to the popular opinion that Genius is mad. For who would voluntarily set himself the awful task of correcting Exam-papers while already the savoury Pudding is simmering in the cauldron, and the succulent Fowl, shorn of plumage, hangs hissing on the spit. It is a mystery we cannot solve.

Yet, sirs and ladies, we wish ye all happiness this Yule, for we love all men, and will hang up our socks in simple faith with the best of ye. For ourselves we intend that this Christmas shall be a veritable Saturnalia; we shall eat and drink and to-morrow die for all we care, we shall dance and sing, and put silly caps on our head, and do all those insane things peculiar to the season, out of goodness of our heart, and the fulness of our stomachs, if the thought be not too vulgar.

It really is noticeable that we eat far too much at Christmas. One of the Dons at a lecture recently discussed the theory that we could live on a quarter of what we eat. We maintain on the contrary that we could eat four times as much as we do usually, for that is what always happens at Christmas. 

Taken from our University Archives; find out more here.

21st December – Mrs Crawshaw’s Diary

DIARY PAGE25th December 1930

Got up at 9.0 am and spent the morning helping Mater. Cyril went with Pater to a service. After lunch we sat and read until tea time then after I changed then set table for dinner. We had a lovely Xmas dinner and afterwards Theo and I […] dished out the Xmas presents. We had some very nice ones. We had a few carols then sat reading until 11.15pm when we went to bed.

The Crawshaw Collection is a series of household accounts for the years 1929-1970, produced in the household of Mr C.P. Crawshaw of Keswick, giving an insight into the day-to-day living expenses of Mr Crawshaw and his wife through the progressing stages of the Twentieth Century.

Find more of the collection here.

20th December – The Pear-Tree


The Pear-Tree. Pyrus.

1. There are several kinds and Varieties of Pear Trees cultivated in our Gardens; the Blossomes are white and the Leaves a grass Green.

2. It is planted in Gardens, and flowers in April and May.

3. The Fruit is esteem’d cooling and restringent. Dioscorides says it is very useful in Repelling Cataplasms and recommends the Juice boil’d as good to stop the Fluor Albus.

4. Latin, Pyrus sativa. Spanish, Peral. Italian, Pero. French, Poirier. German, Birn = Baum. Dutch, Peer = Boom.

Taken from Volume 2 of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Herbals found in our Rare Books Collection available here.

19th December – Shakespeare’s ‘Winter’s Tale’

‘WINTER’S TALE Mark your divorce, young sir, Whom son I dare not call’

Plate is taken from ‘Winter’s Tale’ in ‘The Plays of William Shakespeare.’ From the corrected text of Johnson and Steevens, embellished with plates, in six volumes. Vol. 2 (1807).
Engraved by J. Heath, historical engraver to his Majesty; and to H.RH. the Prince of Wales.
Painted by W. Hamilton R.A.
Published June 1. 1804 by J. Heath.

The below extract is taken from ACT III SCENE II 

‘Enter Autolycus, singing.

When daffodils begin to peer,……
     With, heigh! the doxy over the dale….
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year;
     For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.

The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,…
     With, hey! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!
Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;
     For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.

The lark, that tirra-lirra chants….
     With, hey! with hey! the thrush and the jay:…
Are summer songs for me and my aunts,
     While we lie tumbling in the hay.

I have serv’d prince Florizel, and, in my time, wore three-pile; but now I am out of service:

But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
     The pale moon shines by night:
And when I wander here and there,
     I then do most go right.

If tinkers may have leave to live,
     And bear the sow-skin budget;
Then my account I well may give,
     And in the stocks avouch it.’

This is part of Volume 2 of ‘The Works of Shakespeare: in six volumes’ (822.33 SHA) which is part the 18th Century Collection. To find this volume and others visit here.

15th December – December Calendar from Kate Greenaway’s 1890 Almanack

December - Almanack from 1890 by Kate Greenaway


Beautiful wintry scene illustration taken from December’s calendar from Kate Greenaway’s Almanack for 1890 – Engraved by Edmund Evans – Published by G. Routledge & Sons

Catherine Greenaway (1846 – 1901), known as Kate Greenaway, was an English children’s book illustrator and writer. Her most popular books are Under the Window (1879)Kate Greenaway’s Birthday Book for Children (1880), Mother Goose; or, The Old Nursery Rhymes (1881), and A Painting Book (1884).

Her almanacs ran from 1883 up until 1897, with no 1896 issue being published. Each almanac included a Jan-Dec calendar, beautifully drawn illustrations and short poems. Her almanacs were sold throughout America, England, Germany and France and were produced with different variations and in different languages.

Kate Greenaway’s Almanacks are from the Sarah Chorley Collection. Find her 1890 almanack and others here.


14th December – ‘The Chimes’ from PUNCH

Mr. Punch. "Now then, my lads! All together for once! - Christmas time, you know!!"

Mr. Punch. “Now then, my lads! All together for once! – Christmas time, you know!!”

Extract and image from Punch Volume 92  (1887) – ‘Punch, or the London Charivari’, December 24th 1887

(Dickens once again adapted to the Season and the Situation)

High up in the steeple of an old old Tower, of ancient foundation, somewhat incongruous and complicated in design, but of sound Constitution – as everybody, even the angriest campanological opponents, admitted – far above the light and the noise of the town, if far below the flying clouds that shadow it, dwelt the Chimes I tell of.

They were old Chimes trust me. Centuries ago those Bells had been hung by our ancestors, so many centuries ago, that the register of their first suspension, the record of their first peal, was lost in antiquarian mist as impenetrable as the darkness of the belfry corners on a starless November night. They had had their donors and sponsors, these Bells; but time had mowed down their donors, and mislaid the names of their sponsors, and they now hung nameless and dateless, but sound and sonorous to all winds, Party or otherwise, that have blown or that shall blow.

Not speechless though. Far from it. They had clear, loud, lusty, sounding voices, had these bell; and far and wide they might be heard upon the wind. Much too sturdy Chimes, moreover, were they, to be dependent upon the mere pleasure of the wind, of any of the winds – Party or otherwise – aforementioned. They had been fully, often awkwardly and ill; sometimes in tune, and with the well-ordered harmony which was natural to them; sometimes again, wildly and wilfully, by incompetent or angry ringers, ringers ill-matched and ill-accordant, who did their worst to mar their melody and spoil their tunefulness, and upset their time, and make them sound, in the great Singer’s words:-

“Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune, and harsh.” …

PUNCH, also named The London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 1850s, when it helped to coin the term “cartoon” in its modern sense as a humorous illustration. After the 1940s, when its circulation peaked, it went into a long decline, closing in 1992. It was revived in 1996, but closed again in 2002.

The PUNCH volumes are part of our 19th Century Collection. You can find this volume and other PUNCH volumes here.




13th December – Letter from Pauline Trevelyan to Grandparents

Trevelyan Letter page 1

Trevelyan Letter page 1

Trevelyan Letter pages 2 & 3

Trevelyan Letter pages 2 & 3

Trevelyan Letter page 4

Trevelyan Letter page 4

Dear Grandmama

I hope you and Grandpapa will have a happy Christmas. I have sent you a present. I panited it for you. Geordie sent the mat for Grandpapa. Love from Pauline. xxx

Pauline Trevelyan was the daughter of Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan and Molly Trevelyan – the last of the family to live in Wallington Hall before Charles donated the house to the National Trust.

Find out more about the family in our Trevelyan Papers found here.