Part of a series of 4 illustrated books on ‘The Edwardians’, the fashions of which were revisited in the 1970s when the books were published. J. S. Goodall was born an Edwardian in 1908 and became a painter studying under Victorian artists. After the second world war as a camouflage artist in India, John Goodall turned to illustration.
The books were purely illustrated with no words and so it allowed for the child to tell the story. In fact they weren’t exclusively children’s books as the visual essay was a domestic history of a middle class English childhood of the time. Probably like the one of J.S. Goodall himself, who grew up the child of an eminent cardiologist in Norfolk.
Turning the pages from the masquerade ball to sledging down the hill, from visiting an elderly neighbour on Boxing Day, to walks in the woods one could imagine the full diary of fun for the brother and sister who take us through the narrative and insert oneself there. After Christmas there is a visit to the theatre – sitting in a box no less and watching a Harlequinade. If you closely at the set, you can see it shows Benjamin Pollock’s shop.
In the book, the shopping for Christmas starts on Christmas Eve which the late Peter Baldwin would tell me was the way when he was a child. Although we bemoan the early start, now kicked off by Black Friday it also gives us sparkle and light in the dark days of Winter for longer. Shops are democratic places for everyone and you can look for free in a shop. Talk to the people behind the counter and share meaningful memories of Christmases past and the excitement for a new one.
Finding a star on the floor that had fallen from the Regent Street lights was a special moment when I was a child. Now Christmas celebrations can be found all over the city, with our own Covent Garden getting a festive sprinkling of snow every day from the 8th November when the best tree in town goes up and the lights are switched on.
This year, after two years of Christmas where we couldn’t always share with our families and friends, London has risen to the challenge to provide the most magical of experiences for all.
We at Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop are excited to collaborate with The Strand Palace who have created ‘The Toyshop Tea’ – our neighbours on The Strand, in the heart of Theatreland have embraced the warm memories of childhood and theatre with this memorable experience of an afternoon tea. Anybody who books is entered into a prize draw to win a night at The Strand Palace and a Gift Box of treasure from Pollocks. Diners go away with a gift bag which includes a traditional game, a colouring sheet and a miniature toy theatre. Kids can come to the shop and choose a lucky dip (Adults can get a little help with a 20% discount at the shop.)
We hope to see you in person at the shop or on the digital social meeting places. We look forward to hearing about your magical London Christmases.