Just prior to Christmas I was a guest on a programme at BBC Radio Lincolnshire and took the opportunity to ‘tout’ for wedding dresses. I talked a little about the exhibition and explained that I would like a few dresses from the County of Lincolnshire. By the time I returned home I had received three telephone calls from ladies who had dresses that they were willing to lend, one of whom was a lovely lady callled Diana Wylde from Heighington.
On Monday morning this week, I went over to view the dress and to have a chat with Diana and find out who it belonged to and when it was worn.
After a very warm welcome, Diana went on to tell me that the dress belonged to her mother, Ellen Griffin, who married Walter Waldingham on 24 April 1940 at St Mary’s Church, Horncastle.
Whilst there, Diana showed me a photograph of her mother and father’s wedding day which will form part of the exhibition.
Her mother was very tiny at 4′ 10″ tall so the dress is very, very small – I don’t think it would fit over my thigh! It is made of gold satin and has wonderful gold stain buttons up the back and on the sleeves.
Diana also showed me the veil that her mother wore on the day. I am always sceptical when someone said ‘oh my veil would fit through a wedding ring’ … well not anymore … the veil that I held in my hands today certainly would. It is so light that I am sure it would float if you were to throw it into the air.
Unfortunately, Diana doesn’t have her own dress which is a shame as it would have been lovely to have both of them keeping each other company.
Diana’s grand-daughter is very excited about seeing her great-grandmother’s wedding dress and is making a special trip from Brighton to the exhibition.
I am very thankful to Diana for loaning the dress to the exhibition.
Since the last update on the exhibition, I have received both bad news and some good news.
The bad news is that the HRH Duchess of Cornwall is not able to loan the dress she wore at the Blessing Ceremony following her marriage to HRH The Prince of Wales in April 2005, to the exhibition. The envelope with its distinctive frank arrived in my tray at Doddington Hall. I can’t tell you how I felt when I saw it … it was a mixture of fear and excitement. I can now totally understand how members of the public felt when they received letters that I would nonchalantly pop in the postbox during my time working for HRH The Duchess of Kent.
I just couldn’t believe that a simple postmark could bring on hyperventilation! You will be pleased to hear that I have now regained my composure and whilst disappointed, do understand why the dress will not be coming to Doddington.
The dress The Duchess wore for the blessing, was a floor-sweeping Guinevere-style coat and dress in porcelain-blue and gold. The Medieval coat, in silk brocade, was cut simply to frame the face and neck, before curving into the waist and then flaring out into a short train which billowed out beautifully in the wind as she and The Prince of Wales emerged on to the steps of St George’s Chapel. Underneath was a matching, porcelain blue silk gown, hand-embroidered in gold thread. The ensemble was set off to perfection with a Phillip Treacy creation: a shimmering head-dress of gold ostrich feathers with Swarovski crystal tips.
Thinking about it, if the dress did come to Doddington I would have had to have changed the name to Old, New, Mostly Borrowed and Two Blue …. I already have a blue wedding dress …. mine!!!!
There is one reason I wanted to bring HRH’s dress to Lincolnshire. I won’t tell you why at the moment as I don’t want to tempt fate but I hope to let you know next week!
The good news is that I had some encouraging information whilst speaking to the Curator of one the stately homes not too far from Lincolnshire. So, on her advice, I wrote and posted a letter today. Again I won’t tempt fate by telling you too much but will reveal all when I receive a reply!
Yesterday (Thursday) I was at the Hall to photograph a new arrival … not a baby but a rather gorgeous wedding dress dating from about 1907 and came via a gentleman who lives at the Rectory on the Doddington Estate. In a print from 1700 the Rectory is shown as little more than a cottage. In 1787 an estimate for total repairs came to the sum of £15: this included repairs to the house, stables, fences and to the Chancel of the church. The survey was carried out by Mr William Lumby who was Surveyor to Lincoln Cathedral and was employed by the owner of Doddington at that time, Sir John Delaval, to carry out renovations to the Hall itself. After the repairs were done, Sir John rented out the house and greatly improved it by adding a new front.
The dress belongs to a relative of the owner of the Rectory and was originally made for the mother of his ancient aunt who will be 95 years old very soon. She in turn married his mother’s eldest brother Jack Bergne-Coupland of Skellingthorpe Hall – Skellingthorpe is the village adjacent to Doddington. The second time the dress was worn was at his mother’s wedding and the final time in 1967 by a lady called Virginia Neild who is the current owner (his aunt’s niece).
Phew … families are very confusing … it has taken me ages to work all of this out so I apologise to all readers if, you too, find it hard to follow.
The dress arrived in a suitcase but is now wrapped in lots of tissue paper and a hanging bag in the Blue Room at Doddington. My thanks go to Rose, our Housekeeper, for her hard work in doing this for me… we have all of these wonderful people at Doddington who save me lots of work without me even having to ask them.
I was so excited that the dress was at Doddington as I was meant to be collecting it from Newmarket later this year. I was not only excited by the fact that I wouldn’t have to drive to Newmarket (I love Newmarket but as the exhibition draws near time is precious) but that one of the exhibits was in situ.
On opening the bag, I found the most gorgeous silk dress which was in extremely good condition. Not only was there a dress but two capes: one for the bride and one that must have belonged to a bridesmaid as it was quite small. There was also a pair of shoes!
Looking inside the dress I found the maker’s lable and you will see from the photograph that it was made in Liverpool. The cape was made in an entirely different part of the country and, again, the address can be clearly seen on its lable.
The shoes are just exquisite. They are the typical style of the day and one that I love. The soles are made of leather and the beading detail on the front of the shoe is beautiful. They are like ballet shoes with heels!
Whilst looking at the dress, I was taken back to the owner of the Rectory’s mother … Nancy. She was the sweetest lady and looked after me extremely well when I first arrived at Doddington. Many a day she would cook me lunch and arrive at the office with produce from her garden – it was very hard to get work done when Nancy was around. She was also a very well known trainer of gun dogs and could be seen every day on the Estate with her black Labrador, Busy Bee…. or was it Buzzy Bee? Either way, they were both lovely!
The exibition will open to the public on Sunday 1 August 2010 and run through to Friday 10 September. Opening times are
Wednesday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 1 to 5 pm
Group and Special Interest Visits at other times by appointment.
For more information on the opening of the Hall please contact:
Nicky Wilson (House Manager) on 01522 694308
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website http://www.doddingtonhall.com/
For more information on the exhibition please contact:
You can also follow progress at email@example.com
After the success of last year’s exhibition (The English Walled Garden) in association with the Royal School of Needlework, Doddington Hall’s owner, Claire Birch, thought it a good idea to do another one which would be all about wedding dresses. As I was just about to hand over my job as Wedding and Event Co-ordinator before moving to Australia, she thought I might be in need of a little job!
So, after the final pieces from the 2009′s exhibition were returned to their rightful owners I go to work. The first job was to venture in to Doddington’s archives and look at the last exhibition of wedding dresses (The Fashionable Wedding) which was held in the 19802 and held to mark the wedding of The Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson. You will remember that Sarah’s dress was made by Lindka Cierach and we were lucky to have one other dress in the exhibition by the same designer. Another dress featured belonged to Barbara Cartland … you will be surprised to read that it wasn’t pink!
Miss Cartland’s described her dress as ‘very beautiful and elaborate. I designed it myself from a sketch by Frederick Worth whom I admired very much. Although he was English, he was the most famous designer at the end of the second empire in France, and up until La Belle Epoch‘. It was made of silk romain, a material which is sadly no longer used (I hope I am right). The bodice was sleeveless and was encrusted with rhinestone embroidery. The French swans feathers had to be made specially in Paris to add to the dress. It was made by Hardy Amies.
The introduction of the original catalogue, written by the current owners’s parents, made me chuckle…. here is why. In 1843 George Ralph Payne Jarvis entered in his game book the birth of six puppies to a favourite dog and then goes on to add…….‘my daughter was married today’!
So since January of this year I have been beavering away on the telephone, on the email, by snail mail and whizzing around the County of Lincoln in my car trying to secure exhibits and the response has been phenomenal. I’ve had a couple of declines to my requests and whilst disappointed, understand the reason behind the decisions.
Some of the dresses you visitors to Doddington Hall (http://www.doddingtonhall.com) will be able to see have been loaned by Her Grace, The Duchess of Rutland of Belvoir Castle, The Hon Mrs Hugh Crossley of Somerleyton Hall, Mrs Orlando Rock of Burghley House. I have also managed to persuade a number of brides married at Doddington to lend me their dresses. After five years working as the Wedding Co-ordinator I have seen some stunning dresses and have chosen my personal favourites to be part of the exhibition.
The dresses that have been loaned by private collections have wonderful stories to tell: one dress was first worn at the start of the Second World War and then worn again in the 1980s. One of the most unusual dresses belongs to a lady called Louise Fairburn who is an award winning breeder of Lincolnshire Longwool Sheep. Her wedding dress was made from the fleece of one of her sheep called Olivia. I first met Louise when I appeared on Judy Theobald’s Morning Show (www.bbc.co.uk/radiolincolnshire). Louise brought in the dress and on seeing the dress, I knew I had to have it for the exhibition. Caroline Chamberlain (http://www.carolinechamberlain.co.uk) who made up the dress will also be involved and has kindly agreed to lend her sketch books/notes to accompany the dress whilst it is on show.
The Royal School of Needlework will feature again at this year’s exhibition as the School has kindly agreed to lend me a stunning dress from their collection.
The lovely thing is that the lady (and her husband) who donated the dress are celebrating her 50th Wedding Anniversary this year.
There are lot more dresses but I don’t want to tell you too much as you won’t have any surprises when you visit the exhibition!