hristmas Day Dinner 1894 and New Year's Day Dinner 1895 at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, hosted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
Any concerns that it is somehow “low brow” to serve Christmas dinner leftovers to guests, are dashed with confirmation that the most regal of dinner hosts, Queen Victoria, served her recycled yuletide dishes for more than a week after Christmas Day.
Dated just seven days apart, the two menus appearing on this page from Queen Victoria’s dinner table confirm the aging monarch was a royal version of an 1800s “economising housekeeper”. Large components of Her Majesty’s Christmas Day dinner reappear on the menu for New Year’s Day; including the roast turkey, chine of pork, mince pies and plum pudding.
Of course there were slightly more royal Christmas ‘leftovers’ including the whole stuffed wild boar’s head, the Foie-Gras terrine and an unprecedentedly giant woodcock pie that all flanked the huge roast baron-of-beef, which was made from the two hind legs of one of Her Majesty’s own shorthorn oxen.
Even Her Majesty’s plum pudding was of such a royal size that slices were cut from it and sent to all her nearest relatives: the first slice in later years was reserved for her imperial grandson-in-law, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and posted to Saint Petersburg in time for the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrated on the 7th January.
The first menu appearing on this page is for the Christmas dinner in 1894 served to Queen Victoria at her Osborne residence on the Isle of Wight, which is depicted atop the gilt-edged menu-card. The Queen was accompanied by her daughter and son-in-law, the Prince and Princess of Battenberg, along with the royal grandchildren, the Dowager Lady Churchill and the Duchess of Albany.
HMS Australia, a Royal Navy cruiser, was stationed as the guardship on the Isle of Wight during the Queen’s stay.
The second menu is from a week later and confirms large amounts of Christmas ‘leftovers’ reappeared at the royal table to kickstart the New Year in 1895.
The table for the Royal Christmas lunch and dinner always featured the very best produce courtesy of royal families from across Europe. The boar’s head was usually a gift from either the Emperor of Germany or the King of Saxony while the Tsar of Russia sent some imperial sturgeons.
The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin would send the finest terrine of Pâté de Foie Gras, which was encased in pastry to look like a giant pork pie, and the Emperor of Austria would send a dozen bottles of Tokay wine from his personal vineyards.
In return, Queen Victoria would send out 200 Christmas puddings made at Windsor Castle to all her relatives and leading families of Europe. For these, the royal kitchens drained 24 bottles of brandy.
“I went to see the roasting in the kitchen of turkeys, geese, and beef a mighty sight : at least fifty turkeys before one fire”, recounted Viscount Torrington, a Lord-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria.
“The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland”, continued the Viscount, “by custom or law, sends over every year a large woodcock pie. This one is composed of one hundred birds”.
Because the kitchens at Osborne were too small to cook the Christmas feast, all the main dishes were prepared at Windsor Castle and sent by royal yacht to arrive at Osborne on Christmas Eve. The dinner started at 9pm and concluded with pots and stilton cheese and plates of fruit in the off-chance guests could still be feeling hungry.
Potage a la Tête de Veau claire
Calf’s head consommé garnished with truffle quenelles
cock’s combs and mushrooms
Potage a la Cressy
Carrot soup flavoured with celery and ham created by
Charles Elmé Francatelli who was once
Royal Chef to Queen Victoria
Les Tranches de Saumon, Sauce Hollandaise
Salmon steaks dressed with Hollandaise Sauce made from eggs, butter and lemon juice
Les Soles à la Colbert
Crumbed fried fillets of sole stuffed with tarragon butter
and served with fried parsley
Les Pains de faisans à la Milanaise
Moulds of puréed pheasant meat flavoured with truffles
And dressed in thick a sauce made by blending a tomato
sauce with macaroni, cheese, ham, pickled tongue,
mushrooms and truffles
Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding
Le Dinde à la Chipolata
Roast turkey served with braised chestnuts, glazed pearl
onions, mushrooms, bacon and chipolata sausage slices
all bound in a reduced Madeira Sauce
Chine of Pork
Les Asperges à la sauce
Asparagus spears dressed in a white sauce
La Geleè d’Oranges à l’Anglaise
Jellied orange flavoured custards served with cream
Baron of Beef
Wild Boar’s Head
(a gift from the Emperor of Germany)
(a gift from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Cadogan)
Terrine de Foies Gras
(a gift from the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin)
Royal Christmas: an 1857 print of the arrival of Queen Victoria's Christmas banquet including the stuffed wild boar's head and gigantic game pie.
Queen Victoria's New Years' Day Dinner menu for 1895
Royal Christmas: an 1889 newspaper print of Her Majesty's Christmas sideboard shows (from left to right): whole stuffed wild boar's head; Brawn; Baron-of-Beef decorated with shredded horseradish formed to write the year; woodcock pie and game pie.
Wild Boar's Head served for the Duke of Edinburgh's Christmas aboard 'HMY Britannia' in the South Pacific
After opening the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne the Duke of Edinburgh left Australia aboard HMY Britannia for New Zealand and then to the Falkland Islands. En route Prince Phillip celebrated Christmas Day in the South Pacific with traditional English roast turkey (Dinde roti a la anglaise) and a stuffed wild boar’s head (Hure de sanglier) along with the traditional offerings of Christmas Pudding and mince pies. The Queen remained at Sandringham for Christmas with Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
(Photo: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III, 2022)
Queen Victoria's Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle, 1857
(Photo: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021)
Queen Victoria's Ladies-in-Waiting remember
THE ROYAL CHRISTMAS
in their own words:
Baroness Georgiana Bloomfield
Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria
26 December 1842
"The Queen sent for us and Lady Canning at five o'clock on Saturday, and gave us each a Christmas-box. Mine is a brooch of dark blue and light blue enamel in the shape of a bow, with two rubies and a diamond. Miss Lister has a brooch something similar, and Lady Canning the bracelet always given to the Ladies of the Bedchamber, with a portrait of the Queen from Winterhalter's picture. The Queen also gave Lady Canning a nice Paisley shawl, and before dinner all the household received presents pins, studs, rings, etc. etc. After dinner there were three lovely Christmas trees, and there was some very pretty music in the evening."
Hon. Eleonor Stanley
Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria
24th December 1843
"We are just come in, having been to the Chapel, after walking in the slopes with the Queen; on coming home we were desired to wait in the gallery, where she presently came to us and presented us with our Christmas gifts; Lady Douro's is the usual Lady in Waiting's bracelet, with her picture, and Miss Hamilton's and mine are of enamel, with a little buckle of pearls, by way of clasp, very pretty, and it was so nice of her to give them herself instead of sending them by a dresser."
25th December 1847
"Yesterday evening we were desired, at a quarter to seven, to come down to the Corridor, to get our Gifts; we found all the gentlemen and Mrs. Anson already assembled, and presently the page desired us to go to the Oak-room, where the Queen and Prince already were, standing by a large table covered with a white cloth, in the middle of which was a little fir-tree, in the German fashion, covered with bonbons, gilt walnuts, and little coloured tapers... Round this were all our presents, with the name of each person, written by the Queen on a slip of paper lying by the present; Caroline's and mine were two very pretty little chains for round the neck, with a hand in front, which holds the ring, to which is fastened a heart or locket; mine is in carbuncles and little diamonds, and Caroline's in Pave de Vienne, of the same pattern…
... After we had got ours, we followed the Queen and Prince to see their own presents, and the children's and the Duchess of Kent's. The latter's were, little statues of Princess Royal and Princess Alice, the size of life, from the Queen and Prince, and some other little trifles. The Queen's were the handsomest; some of the things very pretty, particularly a large drawing from one of Overbeck's cartoons, and several small bronze copies of old statues, the Hercules, etc. There were also some blue and diamond brooches, the Duchess of Kent gave her, very pretty.
The Prince's were also very nice ; the Queen's gifts were a small picture by Landseer, of herself and the two eldest children, standing by the Lake at Ardverikie, with a Highland man and pony near them—a beautiful picture; also a little sketch of a Magdalen by Winterhalter, very pretty. The children had each a little table with their new toys, and were running about in great glee showing them off ; Prince Alfred, in a glorious tinsel helmet that almost covered his face, was shooting us all with a new gun, and Princess Alice was making us admire her dolls, etc."
27th December 1851
"On Thursday night, Christmas, the dessert consisted almost entirely of the most lovely bonbons, dogs, men, steam-boats, etc., and the table was abandoned to pillage, everyone coming away loaded with spoils. The younger Royal infants were there during all dinner-time, the elder ones only came in to dessert. Princess Royal and Princess Alice looking very nice in little wreaths of holly ; the little ones went to bed directly after dinner, but Princess Royal and Prince of Wales sat up till ten; you can't think how simple and happy all the Royalty looked, just like any other family, of the most united and domestic tastes."