The 12 Days of Christmas

Hand-made paper soldiers

Hand-made cut-out soldiers from the Hutton Papers, c.1817 [MS 3597/106/15b]

Here is a little Christmas jollity from Birmingham Archives & Heritage to help us through the 12 Days of Christmas!

Please feel free to hum along as you view the offerings from the archives, so here we go, ‘On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me ….’

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Valuation of fixtures, fruit trees, shrubs, kitchen garden and lawn at Holly Bank, Edgbaston, the site of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, dated 1831. The 6 Standard Pears Trees are valued at 2d each. [MS 1520/34/3]

Kitchen Garden Inventory

Kitchen Garden Inventory, 1831 [MS 1520/34/3/2]

Two Turtle Doves
A note from Lucy Galton to her son John Howard Galton asking, ‘Do you know your old friend?’ with a cut out of the family pet tortoise (or Turtle?) dated c.1803. [MS 3101/C/D/10/6/151]

Sketch of a tortoise

Sketch of a tortoise, from the Galton Papers [MS3101/C/D/10/6/151]

Three French Hens
Definitely hens (maybe French) from a selection of Chocolate Box patterns from the firm of Cadbury Brothers Ltd of Bournville, dated c.1902.
[MS 466/785924]


Four Calling Birds
A Zoo Stock Book from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This entry for the 1950 Season sadly records the deaths of a number of Calling Birds, Canaries, Budgerigars, but fortunately no dead Parrots.

[MS 1520/2/4/3/1]

Zoo Stock Book

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Zoo Stock Book, 1933-66 [MS 1520/2/4/3/1]

Five Golden Rings
This photograph from the Birmingham Mint Archive shows a Medal struck for the 1996 Manchester Olympic bid, the Five Gold Rings on the medal being the symbol of the Olympic movement. [MS 1623/Box 46/folder 3]

Birmingham Mint Medals

Medals from the Birmingham Mint [MS 1623/box 46/3]

 Six Geese A-Laying
A Butcher’s shop on the Soho Road in Handsworth, from the Vanley Burke collection, with a cheeky turkey in the window encouraging shoppers to ‘Join the Christmas Club for Turkeys, Geese, poultry etc’, c.1970.
[MS 2192/A/A/1/59]

Photo by Vanley Burke

Soho Road shoppers. Photo copyright Vanley Burke, from  [MS 2192/4/14]

 Seven Swans A-Swimming
A lively scene of the comings and goings in St Martin’s Lane, Bull Ring, in 1840, featuring the ‘Swan with Two Necks’ pub on the left of the drawing.
[Tarlington Prints /TAR 3]

The Bull Ring in 1840

Watercolour view of the Bull Ring, 1840 [TAR/3]

 Eight Maids A-Milking
A letter from Violetta Galton to John Howard Galton, giving an account of her visit to the ‘great Birmingham fair’ at which she bought ‘a most beautiful cow and calf, that my sisters may have new milk and new butter all day long if they please’, May 1807. [MS 3101/C/D/10/12/3]

Letter from Violetta Galton

Letter from Violetta Galton, 1807 [MS 3101/C/D/10/12/2]

Nine Ladies Dancing
Nine ladies practicing rhythmic movements c. 1910 from the Anstey College of Physical Education, founded in Halesowen by Rhoda Anstey in 1897, eventually moving to Westbourne Road, Edgbaston. It was a specialist college for training women professionals in physical education. [MS 2569]

Rhythmic Movements

Rhythmic Movements, Anstey College [MS 2569/6/26]

 Ten Lords A-Leaping
An illuminated pedigree showing the Genealogy of the Berminghams, Lords of the Manor, recording Uluuin at the top, a Saxon thane in possession of the land in 1050, down to Ann Bermingham, daughter of Edward, heiress and last of the family in the mid 16th century.
[122045 History of Birmingham, Clarke, vol 6]


Eleven Pipers Piping
An advertising broadside from the Theatre Royal, New Street, Birmingham, featuring the comic drama of ‘Paddy the Piper’ or ‘the Cow that Ate Him’. No doubt a good time was had by all on Friday 12 June 1857.
[MS 2899/1/3/2/4]

Theatre Royal Poster

Theatre Royal Poster, 1857 [MS 2899/1/3/2/4]

 Twelve Drummers Drumming
Cut-out soldiers (one drumming), made by Samuel and Thomas Hutton, sons of Thomas Hutton of Nottingham, c.1817, taken from the Hutton papers.
[MS 3597/106/15b]

Hand-made cut-out drummer

Hand-made drummer, c.1817 [MS 3597/106/15b]

A Very Merry Christmas to All…
Judy Dennison, Archivist


2 responses to “The 12 Days of Christmas

  1. Wow – This is such a great post, I am not sure I will be able to think of the song in the same way again!

  2. Pingback: 200 and Counting! | The Iron Room

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