Wartime Farm at Christmas

Wartime Farm at Christmas



In December 1944 Britain attempted to celebrate its sixth – and, it turned out, last – Christmas under wartime conditions. For historians Ruth Goodman and Peter Ginns (no Alex for some reason), this means a trip to bomb-ravaged London with lots of jolly morale-raising items such as improvised decorations and presents made from scraps of material and paper.

As food was getting even scarcer, it’s time for one of Ruth’s famous austerity dinners. A glut of carrots is to blame for a feast that, as well
as the boiled carrots that accompany a stuffed rabbit, includes candied carrots, carrot fudge and carrot cake.

Peter’s contribution is to brew a vat of potato-based beer that smells vile but, judging by the faces of the Londoners using Chislehurst Caves as emergency accommodation, lifts their spirits perfectly.


Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologist Peter Ginn return to Manor Farm in Hampshire to recreate the conditions that prevailed in rural Britain during the Christmas of 1944. Peter calls upon crafts expert Colin Richards to help brew some improvised potato beer, while Ruth comes up with innovative presents for children and ingenious festive decorations made from scraps. Following in the footsteps of many wartime farmers, they transport their gifts, food and beer on a vintage steam train to Chislehurst Caves, where they discover what Christmas was like for some of the 15,000 people who sheltered there. Plus, Ruth cooks a yuletide meal from recipes and guidelines issued by the government and the Women's Voluntary Service.