The Watford Observer has teamed up with Watford Museum and its curator Sarah Priestley to take a journey back to the town’s past through items or places of historical significance.

The 16th item in ‘a history of Watford in 50 objects’ is a Princess Mary Gift Fund 1914 tin.

This Christmas will be unlike any we have ever known with Covid-19 restrictions in place. It will be hard for many for lots of reasons but for most of us we will still have the comfort of home.

In 1914, soldiers from Watford found themselves far from home and loved ones at Christmas as they fought in the First World War.

This tin was sent as a gift to all of those serving to bring a little Christmas cheer, and was the idea of Princess Mary. Her original idea was to send a gift to every serving soldier and sailor from her own funds, but this widening into a fundraising campaign.

Each tin contained a variety of treats like chocolate and tobacco, plus pictures of the princess and a little Christmas card.

This box is poignant reminder of what soldiers from Watford went through in the First World War, and the difference kindness can make at Christmas.

  • Watford Museum has had to close under tier 3 restrictions but you can still pay a virtual visit at our website at or find us on Facebook and Instagram @watfordmuseum