Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 18 January 2013 00:00
The Twelfth Night Celebration at Raynham Hall Museum filled the historic house with music and the conversations of friends. It celebrated what Raynham Hall is: a house museum. The post-holiday party on Jan. 5, Twelfth Night, is a traditional event at the museum that celebrates the eve of the Epiphany, to mark the last day of Christmas festivities.
Harriet Gerard Clark, RHM executive director said earlier, “There is so much going on in town and in people’s homes before Christmas, that we chose to celebrate the end of the Christmas holidays, when things quiet down to just enjoy getting together.”
The celebration is in keeping with the background of the Townsends Victorian English tradition. The house interprets both colonial and Victorian eras of the Townsend family.
She said after the party, “Aside from being a fun event, this party is a thank you to members and supporters of the museum from the board and staff.”
Ancestry is always a good topic of conversation at Raynham Hall events. Jonathan Wehle of NYC, a Townsend relative was one of the guests. Mr. Wehle said graciously, he was one of thousands of Townsends, since they are all the decedents of the original three Townshend (the British spelling of the family name) brothers, John, Henry and Richard, who immigrated to America in the 1600s.
Harriet Clark said she too has a Townsend in her extended family. Neither he nor Mr. Wehle has taken the DNA test that the Townsend Society in America uses to trace which branch of the family their members are from.
Museum educator and musician, Michael Goudket, played traditional Christmas carols and Scottish and Irish music of the 19th century on his harp as the musical background to the party. He said his name means “gold chain.”
Thomas Valentine, another RHM staff member said his last name, Valentine, is English and the family has traced it back to a 15th century death certificate.
“It’s probably a saint’s name,” offered Mr. Goudket.
Raynham Hall is especially delightful to visit when it is hosting a party. Former museum director Stuart Chase used to say he loved it when there were young children running around the house. Today, the museum continues their tradition of hosting a tree decorating party for children in local nursery schools. The Oyster Bay Co-operative Playschool at the First Presbyterian Church and children from the Wesley Nursery School at the Community Methodist Church of East Norwich.
Their tree decorated with the children’s handmade ornaments was tucked under the staircase in the front hall.
Longtime board member Patricia P. Sands, treated everyone to her special holiday punches – the temperance as well as the traditional version. There were light sweet refreshments, cheerful company, and a rendition of Auld Lang Syne completed the evening.
For more information on membership and volunteer opportunities please call Theresa Skvarla at 922-6808.