22. He’ll be coming down the chimney when he comes

The range of ceramic production in Stoke-on-Trent is as broad as anywhere in the world. Over the years it seems the imagination was the only limiting factor to what pottery manufacturers were willing to produce. In particular, teapots have been subjected to all manner of weird and wonderful shapes and decoration. Manufacturers of novelty teapots included Sadler, Price and Kensington and Carlton, the makers of this teapot, moulded in the form of Santa Claus appearing from the top of a chimney.

Santa Claus first slid down the chimney in a 1812 book by Washington Irving. The name Santa Claus is an Americanised version of the abbreviated Dutch name for St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, the 4th-century Bishop of Myra, an ancient town in what is now Turkey. In the most famous tale involving St. Nicholas, the bishop anonymously delivers bags of gold to a poor family, often dropping the gold down the chimney. In 1809, Washington Irving helped spark an interest in St. Nicholas when he featured the saint in his satirical Knickerbocker’s History of New York. In an expanded version of Knickerbocker’s published in 1812, Irving added a reference—the first known—to St. Nicholas “rattl[ing] down the chimney” himself, rather than simply dropping the presents down. However, It was the famous poem, published anonymously in 1823, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”—known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”—that popularised the idea of Santa Claus tumbling down the chimney.

Despite the shifts in household heating; moving from open fires to stoves and to central heating Santa Clause’s ability to ensure that presents are left at the homes of each good little boy and girl has remained. Whether through a window or door, with his magic key, no children need worry about the possibility of a Christmas day without presents from Santa Claus. As with most fashions the trends of yesteryear return and the current fashion for an open fire or stove has meant that many homes have reverted back to using their chimneys. This is good news for Santa who once his works on Christmas Eve is done can look forward to a nice cup of tea (from a Stoke-on-Trent teapot, of course).