Wartime Father Christmas Grotto at Ancient House for the first time

An American GI Service Man shares real artefacts from World War Two with children in Ancient House Hall.
An American GI Service Man shares real artefacts from World War Two with children in Ancient House Hall.

Visitors will get a taste of how Christmas was celebrated under fire during the Second World War at Thetford’s Ancient House Museum on Saturday, November 25.

They will get to see a wartime Father Christmas grotto, Christmas crafts and even learn about cooking on the ration.

This is the first time the museum has recreating a Father Christmas grotto made by some of the American servicemen stationed near Thetford in the 1940s.

Speaking about the event, Learning Officer, Melissa Hawker, said: “I always loved visiting Father Christmas grottos as a child but the worst bit was the long queues. We have devised a plan to eliminate the wait – visitors will receive a numbered ticket when they arrive. While they wait there are lots of hands on activities around the museum to keep families busy, including making crackers, meeting a GI service man and cooking wartime sweets. When Santa is ready for them one of his elves will find you and take you straight in.”

It will be as close to the parties thrown by the American service men which gave some children in the area their first taste of pre-war treats like chewing gum and ice cream.

Oliver Bone, Curator of the museum, said: “We are particularly excited that our talented Teenage History Club are getting into costume and character to deliver 1940s-themed crafts alongside museum staff. This is the fourth Takeover Event Teenage History Club have been involved with and they are always a great credit to the museum and Thetford. They will make sure everyone has a Merry Christmas experience.”

The event, which requires no booking, will be from 10am to 4pm this Saturday and is £3 per child which will include a gift and visit to see Father Christmas.