The Chrismas Archives

Bullet Pudding and Messy Games

From Jane Austen's Christmas
by Maria Hubert
Published by Sutton Publishing 1996

Fanny Austen was Jane Austen's niece, being the daughter of Jane's brother Edward. Her letters give an insight to some of the contemporary activities around the Austen family at Christmas time.

Godmersham Park, 17 January 1804

Dear Miss Chapman, take the first opportunity of thanking you for the nice letter and beautiful purse you were so good as to send me. I like it very much as does everybody who has seen it. I was surprised to hear that you did not know what a Bullet Pudding is, but as you don't I will endeavour to describe it as follows:

You must have a large pewter dish filled with flour which you must pile up into a sort of pudding with a peek at top. You must then lay a bullet at top and everybody cuts a slice of it, and the person that is cutting it when it falls must poke about with their noses and chins till they find it and then take it out with their mouths of which makes them strange figures all covered with flour but the worst is that you must not laugh for fear of the flour getting up your nose and mouth and choking you: You must not use your hands in taking the Bullet out. I wish you success with your Lottery ticket. I have one also . . .

Since I wrote the above Papa has had a letter to say that my Ticket is drawn a prize of £20 and as he is going to Canterbury today I have egged him to get me another which I hope will at least be as lucky a one as the last.

Last night we had a pail of water and an apple which as you may suppose delighted the little ones. Think of me Monday for that is the day of our Fete . . .

We'll join in best love to you

Yrs Affec.

Fanny Catherine Austen

PS excuse bad writing.

Fanny's reference to the pail of water and the apple is, of course, to the old game of apple-bobbing, which often took place after the country custom of Wassailing the Orchards. Yet another messy game this, with an apple bobbing around on water, which participants have to catch with their mouths and take a bite from!

© Copyright Maria Hubert 1996