Tag Archives: historical costume
March 3, 2011

Preparing for 2012 Tour!

There just wasn’t time to plan a 2011 tour, as our family moved overseas to Kenya in January and has been settling in since (very exciting!). But I’ve got 2012 in my sites and am planning for a very new and different tour to places not yet visited with a “bookend” in Bath for the Jane Austen Festival launch, which is always a hit.

If you are interested in joining us in September 2012, just drop me a line through my contact form, and I’ll put you on the info list. Those on the list get first dibs on tour spots before I post here or on my message forum. And if you have ideas of what you’d like to see in England, don’t hesitate to share by posting comments here!

September 23, 2010

Monday in London

We were once again greeted by the sun as we rose to meet the day. Truly, the weather this trip was nothing short of spectacular. The temperature was neither too warm nor too chilly, and we had a lovely breeze all day. After a yummy breakfast at our hotel, we headed to the Gloucester Road underground station for our journey to St. Paul’s and walk to the Museum of London. Just as the tube was pulling into Holborne station where we’d change lines for St. Paul’s, the loudspeaker announced that Holborne had just been closed! So I did some rapid rethinking and decided we’d switch to another line at the next stop to disembark at Barbican. It would be an equal distance to the museum from that point, but we’d be a tad bit later due to the longer tube ride. Ah, the joys of the London Underground! We did manage to arrive just a few minutes past ten a.m. to find Suzi awaiting us in the museum’s main hall with curator Hilary Davidson on her way upstairs. Dividing our group in half, we sent a bunch downstairs with Hilary while the rest of us toured the new ground-floor exhibit hall. It is absolutely incredible–better, I think, than the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History (the MoL’s displays are far more child-friendly and so nicely laid out). Here’s my photo tour:

18th-century court dress on display. A screen next to it showed a video of a woman wearing all the proper underpinnings of the era and moving gracefully about to demonstrate "courtly" movement. It was lovely!

Close-up of the court dress bodice--stunning!

18th- and 19th-century shoes on display in a floor case. There were several floor cases in the exhibit, many showing things that have been dug up during excavations around London.

Close-up of another floor case--this one filled with China that has been dug up at various London sites.

Another gorgeous 18th-century dress on display...

And a close-up of the bodice and sleeves...

18th-century officer's "red coat" uniform. The embroidery work was so intricate.

Off the gallery’s opening display is a room dedicated to fashion. It is a recreation of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, a famous place where social climbers and royally connected people once mingled and showed off their taste. The historical clothing is behind glass and rather difficult to photograph due to the low lighting designed to protect the garments. The lighting does cycle up to brighter several times a day, but, unfortunately, we were shoo’ed out to make way for a school group before we got the good lighting. You’ll just have to put up with my attempt at low-light photography here! Later in the morning I saw some photographs in the costume workroom that showed how this exhibit was designed. Live people were put into costume (reproduction–not the real thing) and “blocked” just as though they were in a stage play. After trying out several arrangements of people, the final display model was photographed from several angles so those setting up the final exhibit would know where to place mannequins. It was really fascinating to see how this was done.

1780s gown in the display...

Close-up of the gown...

Amazing embroidered man's suit...

Outside the glass cases were several reproduction outfits for up-close inspection. This girl's dress could easily be reproduced with my new 1780s Girls' Portrait Dress pattern!

Original boy's "skeleton" suit.

1780s gown with unique inverted "V" front lacing.

And a close-up...

1780s court dress with unbelievable amounts of trim...

Lovely 1780s gown with sash. My new womens' pattern (coming soon!) will easily reproduce this one...

Close-up of the gown...

Sorry this is so blurry; the lighting was just so low. Gorgeous 1770s gown with long elbow ruffles...

Here's another angle. The underskirt was so ornate with ruffles and embroidery (white on white).

A reproduction costume with an amusing display angle!

And a close-up...

This reproduction is really a fantasy dress when it comes to the fabric, but it was a lot of fun to study up close. The antlered head-dress is one of many outlandish hats designed for this exhibit by the famous milliner, Philip Treacy...

After leaving this exhibit, we went back to the rest of the displays to finish out the hour before our meeting with Hilary. The MoL is extremely child-friendly with hands-on things to do around every corner. My girls had a wonderful time opening secret doors, pressing buttons to turn on lights, trying on hats, and playing with train sets. Well done, MoL!

Peeping into doors and windows in the Georgian London exhibit.

Looking into the London Underground model...

Yet another children's area filled with antique toys and surprises...

An 18th-century bodice on display in another case. Gorgeous fabric!

One entire section of the new gallery is devoted to Victorian storefronts. Here you see my older girls gazing into a London toy shop. They only wished it was open for business!

My 2009 group saw this same lavender dress down in the costume storeroom last year when it was being restored for this display...

A beautiful antique automobile on display in the early 20th-century section...

A selection of Victorian, Edwardian, and 1920s garments on display...

A detail shot of the center dress from that case. The embroidery on the skirt was simply stunning.

A darling 1940s girl's dress on display...

There are several interactive displays like this one in the new gallery. If you touch areas of the table, they come to life with illustrations and descriptions. This table was a map of things near the Thames. My girls loved it!

A lit-up model of St. Paul's on the table...

And the famous London Eye...

We made it through the new gallery in time to enjoy a short refreshment break in the cafe’. Then we traded places with the other half of our group, heading into the treasure room that is the MoL costume storehouse with Hilary. As before, I am not allowed to share any photographs of what we saw, but I can tell you everything was drool-worthy. We enjoyed seeing an unusual 1730s corset, a pair of Queen Victoria’s ball slippers, three 1820s bonnets, a lovely 19-teens evening gown, an 1890s evening gown bodice, and an absolutely breathtaking 1880s evening gown that looked brand new, it was so well-preserved. There were lots of “oohs” and “ahhhs!” as Hilary removed the protective coverings and held things up for our admiration.

After finishing our visit at the MoL, we walked a short distance to the nearby El Vino Alban Gate restaurant for lunch. Joining us was Cathy Hay of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, who had brought several vintage pieces for hands-on study. We passed opera cloaks and an 1850s dress around the table while waiting for our meals. El Vino did a fantastic job with our food, which was oh-so-delicious and provided in a timely manner (no small feat for a group this large!). Hilary joined us, so we all got in a delightful visit, sharing costume stories and swapping history. It was wonderful fun. Cathy didn’t bring anything for dress-up this time, as we didn’t have room enough for trying anything on. Maybe next time…!

Cathy shows off one of her beautiful opera cloaks...

After lunch, our group divided up once again, some ladies going with Suzi to the Museum of Childhood to meet with Noreen, the curator of the costume collection there. The rest of us had tickets for the special Grace Kelly exhibit at the V&A, so we said good-bye to Suzi and dashed back to the tube at St. Paul’s, glad to find that Holborne station was open once again so we could take a shorter trip to the museum. The Grace Kelly exhibit contained several of her film costumes but focused mainly on her life as Princess of Monaco. I was disappointed that the Philadelphia Museum of Art had not loaned Grace Kelly’s wedding gown to the exhibit, as I’ve always wanted to see it. I also wished there had been a wider representation of her film costumes, but it was still delightful to see what was on display:

An outfit from "To Catch a Thief"

Another beautiful film dress...

I believe this dress is from Grace Kelly's trousseau, but I'll have to double-check my book to be sure...

Low lighting made it very difficult to photograph much in this exhibit–especially the hats and accessories. It was also crowded to the gills with visitors, so I didn’t get a whole lot of good pictures. Oh, well! After finishing up at the V&A, I took my daughters back to the hotel to await the rest of the group. They began to trickle in around 5:30, most of them ready for an evening’s performance of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at Shakespeare’s Globe. Because my mother had never seen the Globe or attended a performance, I got a ticket for her this year. I was sorry to miss out on the performance, which is a yearly highlight, but I am tickled pink Mom got to go. Christopher Benjamin (who played Sir William Lucas in the A&E “Pride & Prejudice”) performed as Falstaff to great critical acclaim. With everyone off to the Globe or out to eat, I took my girls on a little jaunt to Fortnum & Mason, where I knew they’d be astonished at the beauty of the displays (chandeliers in a grocery store?!). We’d hoped to grab supper at the delightful Parlour, but they’d closed up early that night. Instead, we walked down Piccadilly, looking for an interesting place to stop. My middle daughter stopped me suddenly with a “Mommy, look!” so I turned to see what she was pointing at. Next to us was an adorable restaurant called “Cilantro,” just begging us to come in and take a seat:

Colorful and comfy--my kind of eatery!

As we walked through the door, we were immediately greeted by someone at the counter. I asked if they were closing up (it was already 7:30), but he said they didn’t close until 8pm and invited us to come and take a seat. A huge selection of sandwiches and drinks awaited us behind the counter, but the waiter urged us to get comfortable so he could show us menus and take care of us. We were waited upon with such friendly service that we felt right at home and knew this was going to be a real treat. My girls ordered spaghetti bolognese, while I got a chicken and tomato panini.


Baby Girl is obviously enjoying her supper!

The whole atmosphere of Cilantro is cheerful and restful with lots of books around that customers are free to browse while they wait. We dove into our food, which was delicious and inexpensive (another plus!). After finishing up, an obliging waiter told us about the dessert selections, leaving our mouths watering in anticipation.

Can she eat the entire fudge cake alone? Oh, yes, she can!

A splendid hazelnut chocolate mini-cake for me. Heavenly!

Looking back toward the front of the cafe' with its cases full of tempting food.

It is always a delight to find a new favorite place in London. I thanked my daughter for pointing this one out. If you’re anywhere near 193 Piccadilly, be sure to stop by. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. The food is fantastic, the prices are right, and the staff is incomparable. We left satisfied and happy with our special evening out. After returning to our hotel, I put the girls to bed and waited up for the group from the Globe. They came back bubbling over with excitement at the evening’s performance, leaving me quite envious. It is something not to be missed if you ever have the chance.

And so the 2010 England Tour officially ended. We couldn’t believe how quickly our week had gone by. I said good-byes to several ladies Monday night, as they had early flights. We departed friends, and I know we’ll all stay in touch. I’ll finish up later with one last post to tie everything together. So many good memories!

September 20, 2010

Beautiful Bath…

I turned on the weather forecast Friday night after someone in our hotel mentioned “frost,” and there I found predictions for chilly weather, intermittent rain, and wind. We always pray for good weather, especially for the days we’ll be outdoors, so we sure did pray this time! We awoke Saturday morning to a slight overcast haze but no frost and no rain. So far, so good! Some of us had still been sewing the night before to complete bonnets and accessories, but we all managed to be at the coach pick-up point on time and ready to go. Above you see the group of us staying at Rudloe. We were ready for our day!

Thirty minutes after joining the rest of our group on the coach, we arrived in Bath. We drove in an hour early to give people the chance to wander around a bit and see things before the Grand Costumed Promenade. Dozens and dozens of costumed participants began to trickle in as we walked around. Before long, the entire Abbey churchyard was crammed with ladies and gents ready to walk up to the Crescent! During this time, the sun came out in full and began to warm everything up for a perfect day in Bath. Here is a little photo journal of the Promenade:

Part of our group walking through the churchyard to the Pump Room...

Ladies entering the Pump Room

My mother with my youngest daughter, waiting for the Promenade...

Some of our ladies at the front of the Pump Room.

It's almost time to start!

Isn't she adorable? Expectant Regency mama in a maternity pelisse!

Looking back along the column as we march up toward the Crescent...

Jenny and Karen look splendid!

Here I am with my girls, all decked out for Bath...

Stephanie and Nancy pause on the way for a quick snap...

We've arrived at the Royal Crescent!

A dance demonstation by Steps in Time -- and this year they have a boy!

Folks watching the dancing...

So many beautiful outfits to admire!

This gent was willing to pose for us in his Naval uniform...

Don't Carol and Elisabeth look amazing?

Dawn just radiates authenticity. I love, love, love her ensemble!

I couldn't resist begging a shot of the back of this gal's Spencer. Such beautiful lines!

After the Promenade, we all walked back down to the city center for lunch. A few of us ran back to the coach to grab things we couldn’t carry during our walk, then divided up to eat. I had the amazing joy of meeting a friend I haven’t seen in 15 years for lunch in Bath. She and I happened to be in England at the same time and found out through Facebook! It was really great to catch up and see how the years have treated us. :) I spent the rest of the afternoon just window shopping with my girls, looking in on several favorite spots (Cath Kidston, anyone?), and, of course, snapping lots of photos of flowers and other lovelies in the gorgeous sunshine.

Five o’clock rolled around to find us back at the coach and ready to head “home” for the night. It was a simply amazing day–from the weather to all the costumes and everything in between. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did! I thought it was just ideal, especially with such great company to be had! After arriving back at our hotel, I asked at the desk if Box Hill was within walking distance. The chap at the desk informed me it was a “goodish stretch” up the road and to the right. So three other ladies and I set out with my two oldest daughters, determined to find Emma Woodhouse’s beautiful Box Hill. Well, I can tell you it was more than a “goodish stretch!” We went at least two miles before coming to a view that looked like Box Hill…but we weren’t sure, so we walked a bit further and stopped to ask a couple where Box Hill might be. They smiled and said, “You’re standing on it!” So we ran back to photograph the view with us in it!

From this vantage point, you can see all the way to Bath...

Two sisters and a friend enjoying Box Hill...

These two benches were placed here by the Great Western Railway, which built a tunnel through Box Hill--the longest tunnel in the UK.

Here I am with my daughter on Box Hill -- in Emma land!

All in all, it was a fantastic Saturday. Sunday we checked out of our B&Bs and headed to Lacock Village for the afternoon before pushing on to London. I’ll write about that soon!

September 18, 2010

Saturday Preview

Well, readers, it has been an absolutely stellar day in Bath. We are all done in from a day of walking, so I am going to turn in early. But I’ll share a couple of photos to give you a taste of things to come!

Loaded up on the coach, dressed for the promenade, and ready for Bath!

Gathered as a group at the end of the day...and we still look fabulous--LOL!

I’ll share more tomorrow. Suffice it to say, we got utterly gorgeous weather (despite forecasts for frost and drizzles), and we all enjoyed the delights of the golden city of Bath. Until later, good night!

September 16, 2010

Thursday in Exeter

We wended our way southward today to Devon, enjoying beautiful scenery all the way there and cheering the warming temperature. Arriving at Killerton House was like entering an enchanting dream. I’ve seen many fine manor houses in England, but I have to say that Killerton now ranks as my absolute favorite. The exterior slightly resembles Luckington Court, which was used as “Longbourne” in the 1995 version of “Pride and Prejudice.” But Killerton is much larger and has what has to be the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen. We went there for the costume exhibit, but I have to say the house was every bit as satisfying to me. It also had one special highlight guaranteed to thrill me, but I’ll share that in a moment. For now, here is a photo tour!

The elegant dining room with portraits all over and table laid out for company...

Looking into the library from the dining room...

The library fireplace. Have a seat and read a while!

Late 1780s portrait in the drawing room

A beautiful portrait of a Regency Era mother and son...

The stunning drawing room (looking toward the fireplace)...

The marble columns in the drawing room are absolutely gorgeous...

Looking into the music room -- the thrill is over the fireplace!

This is my favorite Regency portrait of all time--Lady Lydia Acland and her sons. Lady Lydia lived at Killerton, and the son at right inherited the estate.

Here's a detail shot. I just absolutely love this portrait. I have tried to find a print for years without success. Someone snagged me a postcard today in the Killerton shop! And, yes, those are boys in the dresses. The short hair is the giveaway.

This organ at the far end of the music room was built by Lord Acland for Lady Lydia after their honeymoon. The docents allow anyone to play it who wishes to. It's quite an amazing sight.

Miss Emily got to try her hand at playing Beethoven on the beautiful grand piano!

I love the stairway hall at the back of the house--doesn't that couch look like a cozy spot? I could really live here!

This is the opening of the upstairs gallery, which houses the current display of costumes. There are over 17,000 objects (10,000 garments; 7,000 accessories) in the Killerton collection, but they can only display 30-40 at a time! I'm sorry I can't show you any of the displays, but the National Trust doesn't allow it. :(

This I can share! They had a lot of hands-on displays for children, including a dress-up area, which my daughter thoroughly enjoyed!

Here was the best surprise of this trip: Killerton's costume department uses my patterns to create the try-on clothes! This is a Spencer made from my pattern. Curators Shelley and Charlotte both told me how much they enjoy my patterns. What a complete thrill!

A fashion plate on the wall -- I love how you can see the back of the lady's gown in the mirror.

We enjoyed luncheon in Killerton's Tea Room after finishing in the house. Delicious, and the service was amazing.

This is the view out the side of the house. My girls are enjoying space to run!

The garden with the cows beyond the wall...

And now for the garden! This is a real treat...

I can never get enough hydrangeas, and they had masses of 'em!

The view from the top of the garden out to the fields beyond...

And looking back at the house (tea room is below that arched window)...

Let me take a moment here to just strongly recommend that you get to Killerton if you ever have the chance. It isn’t just that the house and grounds are so very wonderful and the costume collection delightful–it is that every single staff member and volunteer who works here so obviously loves the estate and enjoys entertaining visitors. We were made to feel so welcome by every person we met, from the ticket seller in the welcome center to the manager of the tea room and everyone in between. I have never had such a feeling of good cheer and warmth and delight in any place I’ve toured. National Trust, you are doing a fabulous job with Killerton House! And all the hands-on things for children are simply icing on the cake. This is a great family outing if you can manage it. And we didn’t even get to try the children’s trail and play area!

After our lovely luncheon, we made our way back to the coach (through the shop, which was a complete trap, let me tell you!). We drove back to Exeter for our appointment with Shelley Tobin at Rougemont House, who was set to show us items from the collection stored there. The collection is used for displays at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. The museum is undergoing a massive renovation and will reopen in December 2012. Until then, the costume stores are rather crammed into corners at Rougemont House. Conservation is done in tiny rooms by a dedicated group of volunteers who are obviously in love with what they do. We enjoyed seeing a mid-Victorian paisley shawl being meticulously patched and reinforced with tiny (tiny) surgical needle and thread. Shelley obviously regretted being unable to take out more things for our inspection, but the space was just too limited. She looks forward to having all new spaces with plenty of room to spare when the museum is complete. But we enjoyed what we were able to ogle! Included was a Worth opera wrap (silk, lace, gilt–ah!), a 1670s shoe, a dear pair of 1795 striped leather shoes with very pointy toes, and a stunner of an 1830s dinner bonnet with ostrich plume and plump bows. Then we climbed upstairs to see rare lace and racks upon racks of garments being readied for the move to the new, improved conservation center. Bliss!

Listening to Shelley describe the pieces (sorry I have to cut off the table -- can't show anything!)...

Rougemont Castle is directly opposite Rougemont House. 1068 next door!

This fascsimile portrait of lady archers by Frith stood next to the castle. Beautiful!

On the road again! The sun was out again as we headed toward our evening meal in Lacock Village. I snapped this church out the window as we flew past. Devon is so lovely and reminds me of my childhood haunts in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia....

The George Inn, Lacock Village. It is a charming spot and so cozy and inviting. Delicious food, too!

Here's the room where we ate. Low ceilings, rock walls...the quintessential country pub!

These will be a bit blurry because of the low light, but a pub just doesn't look right with a flash!

Waiting for our meals at table...

So that was our day! I’ve rounded it out by sneaking a late-night dessert in the lounge of Rudloe Hall while looking through photos and blogging. Having realized I’ve killed the third camera battery, I’m Googling to see if I can find one in Bath tomorrow (wish me luck!). Tomorrow morning we head to the Jane Austen Centre for a tour and luncheon. After that, we motor over to The American Museum in Britain at Claverton Hall. Should be a fun day!

September 15, 2010

Wednesday at Berrington Hall and Hereford Museum

Well, dear readers, it has been a red-letter day for anyone in love with historical fashion. I’ve never heard so many grown women squeal like schoolgirls! From start to finish, it was an amazing treat. So let me walk you through it!

First off, we boarded our coach for the two-plus-hour drive north, winding through absolutely gorgeous countryside (including a short nip through Wales):

We passed through Hereford on up to Leominster (which we learned is pronounced “Lemster” by the natives and not “LEE-oh-minster” as we’d thought!). After winding down the country lanes, we arrived at the entrance gate to Berrington Hall, which looked far too narrow for our coach. Yet our driver managed to get us through three gates and over a cattleguard before one of the docents came frowning out to tell us we’d gone the wrong way in, as the coach park was in back and accessed by a different gate! Never mind that no one told the driver this when he called or that the first gate was not marked “NO Coaches!” Oh, well. We still managed to get to the proper place to park and headed in for our appointment with costume curator Althea Mackenzie, who is caretaker to the famous Snowshill collection (now at Berrington) and the Hereford Museum collection (more on that later!).

Berrington is a wonderful estate. Famous landscaper Capability Brown’s son-in-law built it in the 1780s, and it was the last landscape job Capability did. The outside of the house is rather austere, but that was done on purpose by the architect, who wanted to lead the visitor into a surprise jewelbox of perfectly symmetrical rooms with Wedgewood-style moldings and fittings. Here’s a short tour of a few of the rooms:

The opening hall is exactly as it looked in 1783, with the addition of two French tapestries added by the next generation of owners.

Detail of the Greek-inspired door trimming

One of the French machine-made tapestries (sorry it's a bit blurry; I am still getting the hang of the low light setting, since flash wasn't allowed!)

Next we entered the drawing room, another perfectly proportioned room, down to the matching mirrors, picture arrangements, curtains, and even symmetrical furniture. Jane Austen would have been right at home in this room:

The stunning ceiling of the drawing room

The back hallway is even more magnificent than the front entrance! This staircase leads up to the family rooms.

Here is what lights the staircase--a glorious glass dome!

A view under the dome from the balcony overlooking the hall below...

This is the back of the main house inside the courtyard.

One half of our group toured the house while the other half enjoyed the delights of the private study table with Althea. Then we switched off. I cannot show you any of the things we looked at from the stores, as they are all copyrighted by the National Trust, but when I am able to look up call numbers, I will post them so you can Google them for yourselves. Suffice it to say that you would short out your keyboards drooling if I was able to share pictures!

After we all finished at the study table, we gathered for luncheon in our own private Edwardian Tea Room below stairs:

Lunch was absolutely delicious with an assortment of sandwiches, soup, and scones with jam and Devonshire cream, and, of course, tea. Yum! We finished up and walked back through the grounds toward the coach:

Looking into the walled orchard/garden...

Beautiful allium!

Looking past the fountain towards the house...

A lone water lily in the fountain...

View across the velvety lawn in front...

This is called "The Triumphal Arch" and serves as side entrance to the grounds...

A peep through the courtyard archways to the view beyond...

After boarding the coach, we buckled in for the short ride back to Hereford, where we were to meet up with Althea at the museum for still more up-close study. We were told to go to the main museum building, so we toured it for a bit and enjoyed its exhibits (lots of hands-on things for the children–hurrah!).

My girls trying out the play kitchen.

Too much fun!

This case contains original fabrics from the 1740s-1780s.

Detail view of the fabric. We saw such bright colors today--lots of pinks and greens especially from this period.

A purse "embroidered" with (are you ready for this?) beetle wings! Thanks to Stephanie for pointing this out!

After waiting a good 20 minutes and seeing no Althea, we asked again at the desk if she was expecting us and knew we were there. They decided to ring her up and found she was actually at another museum building several blocks away and expecting us there! Oy! So we packed ourselves off in a hurry to get to the museum’s resource center, which contains a simply mind-boggling number of storage bins, drawers, shelves, racks–you name it. Once again, I can’t show you anything we looked at, but you can see our ladies walking down the long corridor next to the storage cases:

What treasures lie in store?

These run on a neat trolley-type system that pulls the shelves apart along tracks so you can walk in between and get to all the drawers and bins. Althea gave us much more of her time than we deserved, and we oohed and ahhed for a good hour and a half. We could have stayed a week and not seen everything. This was absolutely the highlight of the day, with all our ladies getting to see things from different time periods and areas of interest. Never to be forgotten!

After a quick stop to get some water and other odds and ends, we headed back to Lacock Village for our evening meal at The Red Lion Inn, which is an absolutely charming spot (its exterior was used as the Meryton Assembly Room in the 1995 “Pride and Prejudice”).



Ladies awaiting their suppers...

A happy (and delicious) ending to our wonderful day...

The Chicken and Stilton is not to be missed!

Great conversation and lots of laughter...

Nothing better than candlelight...

So we’ve finished out our day tired but happy. Tomorrow we travel southward to Exeter for still more historical costume at Killerton House and Rougemont House. If all goes well, I’ll be telling you about it tomorrow night! Sweet dreams!

September 10, 2010

It’s almost here!

Hard to believe the 2010 Tour is already upon us. The year has just flown by! We are so excited about this year’s tour. We have a group of 15 lovely ladies going along, and I’m really excited that my dear mother will be with us this trip. We haven’t been in England together since 1988, so this will be a wonderful memory-maker. :)

Stay tuned for blog posts about the trip, as time permits (and when I have WiFi access!). I’ll be taking all the pictures myself this time (a rather daunting prospect!), so I’ll have to get the hang of using this new camera and formatting photos.

We’re going to be in London, Wiltshire, Hereford, Exeter, and Somersetshire this year, seeing historical garments from world-renowned collections and touring beautiful manor houses at the same time. I’m excited to meet curators who specialize in areas that are new to me (lacemaking, anyone?), and Suzi Clarke will be along as before to guide us through all these delights. Hope you’ll tag along here for all the fun!

August 18, 2010

Less than four weeks out from the tour!

All the checklists are crossed off, the tickets are purchased, and our group is set to cross the Pond and enjoy our time in beautiful England! I’ll be blogging about the tour each day if all goes well (and the Internet connection is reliable!), so be sure to bookmark the blog to “follow” us through Wiltshire, Hereford, Exeter, Somersetshire, and London. It’s going to be a fantastic journey!

October 15, 2009

Okay, I just have to share some festival video links!

Several of our ladies got into these videos, though you have to know where to look to find them. You’ll enjoy the clips anyway!

BBC News story on World Record for Most People in Regency Dress (Click to view.)

Video on YouTube about the Promenade:

Video of Bath Minuet performing!

October 13, 2009

The Baroque Dance Demonstration

The members of Bath Minuet pause for a photo.

The members of Bath Minuet pause for a photo.

I hadn’t planned originally to attend this event, but I am glad several ladies talked me into it. Bath Minuet (a group of vintage dance enthusiasts) was scheduled to perform several 17th-18th-century dances at the Pavilion across the Avon, followed by a one-hour English Country dance that anyone could join in. Since I had no plans to dance, I didn’t dress up, but the other ladies put on their ballroom finery, which was gorgeous! We asked the front desk to call us a couple of taxis, as no one wanted to walk the full mile down to the Pavilion. We then sat in the parlor for a while, watching for the cab before finally deciding to go out and sit on the front steps. Time marched on, but no taxis arrived. At five ’til seven, we were sure something dire had happened, so someone went back inside to ask the front desk gal what had become of the cabs. With a horrified look, she said that she’d thought we wanted cabs for 6:45 the following morning! Eek! She promptly called to correct her mistake, but it still took the cabs ten minutes to reach us. We arrived at the Pavilion 20 minutes late, missing the first two dances. Boo hoo! The group was just finishing up “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot” (A&E “Pride & Prejudice” fans know exactly which dance that is!).

Three ladies from Bath Minuet demonstrate dainty steps.

Three ladies from Bath Minuet demonstrate dainty steps.

During the break, I had a lengthy talk with one of the members of Bath Minuet, who dances with his wife. He said he had never danced a single step until joining the group five years ago. His wife saw the group on television and asked him to go with her to one of their meetings. They are now devotees of historical dance and absolutely love to share it with others. The gent hand-made his entire outfit and says he cherishes an original 18th-century waistcoat that he saves for very special occasions. One thing we noticed was the shocking lack of gentlemen — the group was mostly made up of ladies. This seems to be fairly common in the US as well and is such a shame. The gentleman with whom I spoke mentioned how they have tried to get young people hooked on historical dance and how much they love it once they try it. But many are afraid to try. Our group wasn’t! Of course, we had Aylwen with us, who is a historical dance expert and loves to help others join in. And many of our ladies had either tried English country dancing before or were eager to learn, so we had a very willing group! Here are photos from our delightful evening (all taken by yours truly, so pardon the lack of expertise!):

It was wonderful to see all the scrumptious historical costumes during the demonstration!

It was wonderful to see all the scrumptious historical costumes during the demonstration!

A nice back view of a gorgeous gown.

A nice back view of a gorgeous gown.

Now the real fun begins! Participants line up to learn their steps for the first dance.

Now the real fun begins! Participants line up to learn their steps for the first dance.

Lots of lovely Regency finery...

Lots of lovely Regency finery...

Katrina (white dress) joins hands with her set.

Katrina (white dress) joins hands with her set.

Another shot of a beautiful 18th-century costume...

Another shot of a beautiful 18th-century costume...

Aylwen's gown (right) was made of a lovely embroidered silk in fall colors.

Aylwen's gown (right) was made of a lovely embroidered silk in fall colors. You can also see the back of Rebecca's lovely white muslin gown in the center.

That's Catherine in the light blue and the back of Molly in the copper silk.

That's Catherine in the light blue and the back of Molly in the copper silk.

Catherine and Molly going 'round...

Catherine and Molly going 'round...

Sarah in her lovely sari silk gown (very popular during the Regency) and Aylwen in the background.

Sarah in her lovely sari silk gown (very popular during the Regency) and Aylwen in the background.

Now you get the back view of Sarah's gown and the front view of Aylwen's.

Now you get the back view of Sarah's gown and the front view of Aylwen's.

Isn't Sarah graceful?

Isn't Sarah graceful?

I kept trying to capture Cahterine and Molly when they weren't spinning around!

I kept trying to capture Cahterine and Molly when they weren't spinning around!

Getting closer...

Getting closer...

Ah ha! Caught Catherine this time in her lovely crossover gown with silk ribbon embroidery.

Ah ha! Caught Catherine this time in her lovely crossover gown with silk ribbon embroidery.

And I finally catch a side view of Molly!

And I finally catch a side view of Molly!

A front view of Rebecca's dress and a back view of Ana. The lighting was so poor on this end of the room that all my shots turned out way too dark. :(

A front view of Rebecca's dress and a back view of Ana. The lighting was so poor on this end of the room that all my shots turned out way too dark. :-(

Katrina and another participant discuss the next step.

Katrina and another participant practice the next step.

Sarah and Aylwen again -- I just loved the fabrics under the lights!

Sarah and Aylwen again -- I just loved the fabrics under the lights!

I wish I’d managed to get a group shot of everyone. It was really hard to grab pictures of people moving in and out of sets and lines during the hour-long dance. And by the time we all made it outside to head back to the B&B, it was pitch dark. Sorry about that! I hope these at least give you a little glimpse into a lovely evening!

One more post left to go: Our stop in Lacock Village on the way back to Heathrow. :-)

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