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‘Twas The Month Before Christmas, and all Through The Bay

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 at 3:05am.

When Nook Sales Experts match a buyer with their dream home, the only thing as important as architectural style is the neighborhood. That’s why we’re bringing you the #NookNeighborhoods series, where every Wednesday you’ll find cool history and culture to make sure you don’t overlook an area that could have the best nook for you.

The Victorians may have given us the perfect settings for haunted houses, but ever want to experience what the inside of some of those parlor halls and residences may have been like? For years, I’ve heard my friends talk about their weekly adventures to the Bay for The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party. It wasn’t just where costume designers or performers went yearly for a good gig; they treat it as a return to family, to that group of people who all enjoy a wonderful time inspired by the facts of history and wonderment of literature. It’s like an ongoing Renaissance Fair except you’ll see characters from Charles Dickens along with Father Christmas, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, dance the night away at Fezziwig’s Ball, and even more.

Ron and Phyllis Patterson (an Art Director and English major, respectively) first created this Fair in 1970, mere years after a fundraiser in their backyard became the phenomenon of the annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire. With both events now run by their son Kevin and his wife Leslie’s production company, it is the “Faire Family” atmosphere which continues to draw devotees year after year. The Pattersons also hold performers and vendors to a strict standard of accuracy. Everything presented must be historically accurate and/or made from the technology available at that time. Their idea behind it was that by immersing oneself within the world, attendees can learn as well as have a great time.  The original participants all underwent workshops to ensure that the Elizabethan culture prevailed and no anachronisms should appear.

The Renaissance Pleasure Faire came at the right time, it seems. “Amid the Vietnam War, inhabiting a lost era of courtly love and gentler combat had tremendous appeal, and the fair became a kind of early, wimpled Woodstock,” according to Ron Patterson’s obituary. So when The Dickens Fair began in 1970, all of those same standards of history and excellence were carried with them. Although the guidelines for entrance are stricter than larger theme parks, the price of tickets is kept affordable, with children 5 and under always free.

Upon entrance, you receive a map of Dickens’ London for a self-tour of all the Victorian ales and entertainments. Keep your pence handy to purchase artisanal soaps, potions, quilts and costume decor in the apothecaries and emporiums section. Most of these vendors carry the Artist-in-Residence seal, meaning the artists themselves sit in the booths.

Live “Entertainment and Diversions” abound, with Gilbert & Sullivan’s short operetta “Trial by Jury” and the popular holiday pantomime “The Surprising Tale of Baron Munchausen & Mopsa the Fairy,” alongside musical singers and parlor entertainment. The London Docks host sea time shanties, nautical music, “Dangerous Puppets” and navigation lessons nearby a traveling tattoo parlor.

It’s a wonderful way to enjoy history, family, new friends and learn a bit about The Victorians from whose era came those excellent icons of architectural styles. Find your favorite Victorian home by using our innovative search engine or mobile app.

Photo Credit: The Great Dickens Christmas

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