A Dickens Christmas 2014


full village
The Holiday Season is once agian upon us and it is time to visit the Dickens Village of Brighton to see how the residents are celebrating this Holiday Season in the little village that time forgot. I hope visiting this village will bring back happy memories of a bygone era and will add a bit of joy to each of you in the coming New Year
This left side view of Brighton 2014 shows the town center and business district.
The right side view shows the highlands, the realm of Sir Sheffield and the country homes of the area.
rightside view
We begin this year's village tour by taking the Holiday Coach into town.
cariage coming
Travelers may enter the Village of Brighton by way of the Holiday Coach or by way of the railroad. I thought we would take the coach for a more nostaligic adventure. The road to Brighton brings travelers into town through the Sheffield tunnel. This new route saves several hours of travel on the open road. Here we can see the coach just emerging from the tunnel on its way to town. The main coach road merges with the High Road that leads to Sheffield Manor. If you look on the High Road you can see see the gin wagon coming down the road with a load of gin from the mill. The gin will be making its way to the pubs and inns to provide holiday cheer for both residents and visitors. With the recent snow, you might notice some of the village children have built a snowman on the plateau just behind the gatehouse. The coach will stop at the Falstaff Inn, but I suggest we get off here at the road junction and see the highlands before it gets dark.
Lord Sheffield is a kindly landowner and takes great care of his tenents. He maintains the gatehouse with a watchman to protect his lands and tenants. Above the gatehouse we can see the highlands, the castle and homes of the various tenents. There are some beautiful old homes, and of course the castle to see if we walk the wooded lane.
As we emerge from the Gatehouse we will enter an old growth birch forest. Centuries ago the whole highlands were covered with these trees but now only patches of the stately trees remain. Many creatures of the forest can be found living in these woods. If you look carefuly you can see both a buck and a doe hiding in the cover of the forest. Thornbury Chapel was first built by Lord Sheffield's great-great grandfather and has been maintained by the family for over one hundred years.
Thornbury Chapel nestles in the old birch forest and while made of stone, it has always had a thatch roof. It is the pride of the highland folk who always celebrate a highland Christmas inside its cozy walls. I'm sure carols will be sung there this evening. The village monks have been the choir directors for many years.
From the Gatehouse if we make a left hand turn we will leave the chapel and head down the lane past Lord Sheffield's Gin Mill. The mill has been in operation since 1756 when the English gentry opened what became a booming gin trade to meet the demands of the workers who were just beginning to move to the cities to seek jobs in the factories spawned by the just beginning industrial revoution. While many of the mils have closed, the Sheffield Mill still produces gin for both Brighton and other nearby towns and a tidy revenue for the Lord.
Next to the mill and over the bridge stands the farmhouse of the Browns. Mr. Borwn is the watchman at the gatehouse and Mrs. Brown works in the mill office keeping accounts. I see she has received a post and is reading a Christmas greeting from her sister who lives in London.
While Mrs. Brown reads her letter Tom Jackson is driving his milk wagon down the pine tree sheltered lane. The milk is collected from Lord Sheffield's cows for delivery to the town of Brighton.
On down the lane, and next to the Brown's house live the O'Connor sisters, Elizabeth and Eileen. The sisters, while quite advanced in age, are noted for their fine lace products. They have been making their lace goods for over a half century and their work is often in demand from people living as far away as London. The sisters do not get out much anymore, but by the amount of light in their wondows I would bet they are at work even at this hour.
At the end of the lane, just before the steep hill leading up to the Manor is Richard Burton's stained glass works. Richard Burton and his sons have been making glass for the area's churches. Even Thornbury Chapel has glass windows made by the Burtons.
At the top of the hill, next to Burton's glassworks, stands Sheffield Manor with its castle and out buildings. The first building we come to is Bayly's Blacksmith. Lord Sheffield's family has been raising fine horses for several centuries and it is the task of the Burtons to care for and maintain the livery for the horses.You can see several of the horses roaming the field in front of the barnhouse. Behind the horse field are the Sheffield's prize cattle. If you look carefully to the right of the first pinetree you can see a barred owl perched in a tree. The manor has been recognized as a bird sanctuary for many years. The lush forests of the manor also provide shelter for a variety of wildlife and a stag can be seen standing on the edge of the cliff. While there is much work to be done it appears that the Bayly children have taken a break to sit on a fence rail and enjoy the view of the town from these lofty heights. If you look closely you can see Lord Sheffield exercising one of his prize walking horses on the far right.
Under the gaze of a wise old owl, Efram Bayly works at his forge making horseshoes.
Certainly the most classsic view on the manor is the great stone tower of Sheffield Manor towering over the Lord's domain. Here it is seen rising between the smithy and the horse barn.
Following the roadway all the way to the right we arrive at the gated entrance to the Manor. Lady Sheffield is out for an evening ride on her grey horse Stormy. Behind her you can see the postman who has just delivered the mail to the manor. The windmill, seen here, is used to grind grain from the manor's fields into flower. The rich grainfields not only provide grain for the manor but some of the flower ground at the mill is sold in town to Edward Biffin for his bakery. We should be able to get some fresh rolls or muffins from the bakery when we get into town.
After we retrace our steps back to the gatehouse, and down to the coach road we will find the popular Duck House managed by Mary Howard. Mary raises ducks that not only provide fresh eggs but also the ducks are sold at the village poultry market in town. It would appear that Mary not only has her domesticated ducks, but several of their wild cousins seem to be enjoying resting on the rocks in the river. You would think that with the seasonal sale of duck, Mary might be able to afford to get a more permanent bridge than those loose logs she now uses.
At the junction of the Coach Road, the Manor Road and Mary Howard's Duck House stands Brighton Falls. The water from the river is used up stream to power the Sheffield's gin mill and from there tumbles over the ridge to become the falls. It is one of the more picturesque sites in the town. Not only do couples like the Cordell's often walk out to enjoy the view, but the village photographer is out with his Dagureotype camea to record the scene.
Just past the falls heading into town is the open air village bazaar. Today on sale are plum pies, fresh canned jams and jellies and candles sold by Mrs. Johnson.
Across the roadway from the bazaar stands the Falstaff Inn. It is here the the Holiday Coach makes its village stop. Directly in the center foreground stands John Smith's pigeon roost. John houses carrier pigeons and for a small fee you can send an "airmail" message. The Falstaff Inn is the oldest road house in town. The rooms are cozy and have mattresses made from goose down making them delightfully warm on winter nights.
On this backside view of the Falstaff Inn you can see John Higgin's grocery wagon. John has been delivering fresh produce to Brighton establishments for many years.
Directly across the road from the Falstaff Inn is the Ebeneezer Scrooge's Enterprize. Located on the side of the Village Square the business sits to the direct rear of the railroad station. Merchandise arrives by rail, is stored in the wearhouse and then distributed to both Brighton and nearby communities. This time of year there seems to be more goods that can be stored in the buildings. I can see the crates and barrels stacked up behind Mr. Fezzywig's delivery wagon. Mr. Fezzywig may work for Scrooge Enterprizes but he certainly has more Holiday spirit than his boss. The jolly delivery man even decorates his wagon to help spread Holiday Joy.
Next to Scrooge Enterprizes is the town square and railroad station. The area serves as a second entrance to the town and is always a busy place. The local chimney sweep and his son are just finishing their work at the local book store while to their left are some children gathering in front of the church before heading to Bible classes. The Vicar is distributing day old bread from the bakery to some of Brighton's less fortunate residents and there are even some gentlemen enjoying a smoke before catching the train back to London.Thanks to the train, local residents can get their copy of the London Times each morning from the village newsstand. Brighton was founded by the family of William III and his statue graces the square as a reminder of those by gone days. We will get a view of the family palace when we enter the park district later on our tour. The Holiday season is a time to remember everyone, even the the town's stray dogs. I can see a boy is feeding one of the dogs while he sits with his father on a bench.
A train prepares to leave Brighton Station for its journey back to London.
Standing in the middle of the Coach Road in front of the town square is the King's Market Cross monument. In earlier days such a marker indicated the the town and its market were under the protection of the crown and served to elevate the status of the township. The Wilson's have come to town in their Christmas sulky to witness the caroling in the park district and the lighting of the town tree this evening. Their sulky is just turning onto Front Street now.
farmer market

The town market is managed by the Plumstead family and always has the necessary items for the Holiday table. Mrs. Plumstead seems to be offering some cookies to entice customers into the market. You can see the variety of goods for sale displayed in front of the market. Everything from squash, potatoes, rice and coffee are displayed in sacks and for sale at the market. For those who need a quick meal on the go Mike Denny has his Fish and Chips brazier operating along the curb this evening. In the front right corner is the entrace to the local monastery. If you listen you can hear the Thornbury carolers rehearshing for their performance tonight at the chapel up in the highlands.

The Camden Monastery was the first religious center built in the town and dates back to the 15th century. Now crowded by the growth of the town little remains of the beautiful grounds once connected to the monastery. However behind their gates is still a beautiful restive garden where one can get away from the pressure of modern times. You can see the monks instructing some of the Thornbury carolers.
The quiet garden behind the monastery features a comfortable garden setting complete with pond and small cascade. Several sisters from a nearby nunnery are resting and reading in the garden while they wait for tonight's festivities and caroling in the park.
Looking back to Front Street we can see Henry Lipton and his son George delivering coal to the local stores while Elmer Tipler tries to interest one of the tourists in a bottle of his fine wines in front of the Wine and Spirits Shop. There even seems to be a bottle of Champagne on ice next to the doorway. Edward Biffins can be seen standing outside his bakery with several loaves of fresh bread. Can anything beat the smell of fresh baked bread on a chilly day? Two coolies are deliverying some new oriental gifts to the China Trader located just down the street. The goods must have arrived on today's train from London. By the way, if you are looking for a unique Holiday gift be sure to check out Wellbourn's Lamp House for some decorative lamps. Mr.Wellbourn is showing off some of his wears now.
Continuing down Front Street and just before the bend in the street stands both the China Trader and the Coffee House. The China Trader is the newest business in town and features gifts from the Orient. On display in front of the shop are several interesting period vases with flowers to brighten the season. The Coffee House, on the left, has a cheerful garden entrance where guests can browse if they have to wait for a table. If you don't want to wait you can always get your coffee to go and carry it as you stroll through the gardens. While you are waiting there is a bootshiner if you need to clean up your footwear.
Next to the Coffee House on Front Street stands the Crowntree Inn. The inn is much newer and more upscale than the old Falstaff Inn back up the road. Guests who stay at the Crowntree tend to be more from the upper class and are usually in town to visit the new museun at the end of Front Street. Reservations are encouraged since the inn is small and fills quickly when new exhibits are in the museum. Today features the opening of the new Treasures of the East exhibit. There are some new pieces just in from Egypt for the opening.
Brighton is a town that does not forget its past nor the history of the realm. This may be because the royal family maintains a residence in town or maybe it is just tadition. Nevertheless along Front Street stands Monument Park. Several statues recalling the glory of the nation are located in this park. There is a statue of the long ruling Queen Victoria and also one of Richard III on display.
Anytime I am in Brighton I always make certain to stop in the Horse and Hounds Pub. My preference is for a table in the upstairs room over looking the town park. I have made reserations there for this evening so we can get a good meal in an Old English atmosphere. I'll be having the bangers and mash with gravy but I also suggest the curry chicken. While we eat we should be able to hear the carols sung in the park and be able to see the lighting of the town Christmas Tree all the while enjoying the warmth of a yule log on the hearth. The pub should be well stocked with ale as we can see the staff bringing in a new supply. There seems to be an unattended mug sitting on the wall. I'm sure it will not be there for long.
At the end of Front Street stands the Empire Museum with its new Egyptian exhibit. In the courtyard is the new statue of the Egyptian god of the underworld Annubis and even a miniature pyramid. I'm s ure there will be many other treasures inside the museum.
Brighton's most famous residents are the modern descendants of William III. Their palace stands at the far end of the town park. The royal family has just arrived by coach for the tree lighting ceremony that will be held in the park tonight.
Dominating the entire center of town is the great park. It serves as a connecting throughfare to the various parts of town and is always full of people. Normally the centerpiece of the park is a grand Grecian Fountain brought to England by Lord Elgin in the 1840s and donated to the town. However, each Christmas the fountain is removed to make room for the Christmas tree.
Hawkers, residents and visitors are all gathering in the town park for tonight's festivities.
The park will be full by this evening. Some folks have come early to watch the preparations and make sure they have a seat for the celebration this evening.
From anywhere in Brighton, the most inspiring view is of the the old stone church on the west side of the park. The church is newer than the monastery but still dates back to the 16th century. The entrance is from the town square just outside the Railroad Station. Recently the church has donated several statues of angels that are mounted along the park wall surrounding the church.

So here it is, Christmas Eve in Brighton. As happens each year residents, visitors and our little tour group have gathered in the village park to witness the annual lighting the the tree and listen to the carols sung by the local choirs and residents alike. Please feel free to join in for a chorus of Joy to the World. I hope you have enjoyed the tour and the annual visit to our favorite Christmas Village. From my home to each of yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

If you enjoyed the visit please sign the guest book by using the link below. I look forward to seeing each of you again next year for our tour of Hauntsville at Halloween and then again next December for another visit to Brighton.







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