I am sorry that I didn’t deliver the promise I made in my last post! I know it is now the 27th of April and I promised to come back to you all on the 22nd! However, don’t despair I will let you know in due course if the news is good. So far so good but I just to find a special piece of equipment and then I will let you all know of THAT dress. I do so hope you will find the news worth the wait!
As well as working on THAT dress’ I have also been busy trying to secure other dresses as well as working on launching a competition that we have just been given funding for.
In March I attended a seminar at the University of Leicester which had been arranged by MuBu which is part of Rennaissance East Midlands (www.mla.gov.uk/renaissanceeastmidlands). It was one of the most interesting seminars I have ever attended and was all about how to use the ‘digital age’ to promote an event i.e. by using Facebook, Twitter etc etc.
Before the seminar, I had an idea of running a competition alongside the exhibition whereby (this is a simplified version) a wedding dress would be designed by students of Design and Technology from the County’s secondary schools, the entries would then be chosen by a panel from Lincoln Univeristy Art and Design Department and the winning entry would be on show at the exhibition.
At Doddington, we have excellent relationships with primary schools who come to visit the Hall and take part in our education programme – they are also able to take part in events arranged in the Kitchen Garden. Bishop Grosseteste college has helped us quite a bit in the past but I really wanted to concentrate on the secondary schools and perhaps give a student, who wants to go on and study fashion and design, a step on the ladder.
Last Friday I met with the staff at the University of Lincoln and outlined what I had in mind and they confirmed that they would be thrilled to be involved … hallelujah! So today, I have been working on the outline of the competition and am just waiting on having it approved – the University are the ones who are going to make up the dress so it has to be something that they can work to. I will keep you updated on progress.
Due to the funding, we shall be able to make a film all about the life of the dress i.e. the inspiration, the material, the making of and finally the finished article in all its glory playing its role in the exhibition. We are extremely grateful to Renaissance East Midlands for their help with this project.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, I am attending the first of the training days to help with the project and I am looking forward to it immensely and will tell you all about it in my next update.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I spent the morning with Sara Basquill who is the Keeper of the Collections for a number of the Lincolnshire County Council museums like Gainsborough Old Hall and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life to name just a couple. Sara was kind enough to let me look through her database of costumes which are held at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. I came away with about 75 sheets of paper which I now have to look through and decide what to choose. What a job … how on earth am I going to choose what to leave out … it’s doesn’t seem fair. Sara mistakenly gave me details of a tank …. this is one exhibit that I won’t have to think too hard about.
Just before the Easter holiday, I received the most wonderful news about a very special dress that will hopefully be coming to the Exhibition. I can’t tell you anymore until after 21 April when I will decide whether or not it is feasible to bring the dress all the way to Lincoln. Logistically, it could be a nightmare so I have a tough decision to make …. I promise to let you have all the details on or around 22 April.
However, since Easter I have been a rather busy wedding dress locator. Immediately after I finished my last chocolate egg, I drove over to Wainfleet, near Skegness to meet a lovely lady called Nola Shaw who wore her grannie’s wedding dress at her own wedding.
The dress was first worn in 1947 by Margaret Joan Tebb (nee Harness) who was married at Carrington Church and then worn by Nola in 1995 when she was married at Thorpe St Peter’s Church. The dress had to be shortened and had a lace overlay added to cover some staining.
Nola told me that when she was getting married she had trouble finding the ideal dress and it was whilst clearing out her grannie’s house that she found the dress that she eventually wore …. I think the fickle hand of Fate had a part to play. For those who are or are about to be married, it’s a nightmare trying to find the perfect dress….never mind trying to find the perfect man .. the dress is much much harder to find!
When Nola opened the box, we found all sorts … not only Nola’s headress but her grannie’s too which is still rather beautiful. However, the best thing of all was a pair of stockings worn back in 1947 on the big day! They will all be joining the dress when it is on show in August. Nola told me a lovely story about how the dress came to be which will be available to read during the exhibition.
From the Lincolnshire Coast I ventured over the border to Mansfield to collect a dress by Lindka Cierach, who made the magnificent dress worn by Sarah Ferguson when she married Prince Andrew . We had this dress at our 1987 exhibition, so we are very grateful to the owners for lending it to us again. When I saw the box it was packed in, I wasn’t quite sure whether it was going to fit in to my car but it arrived safely back over the border to Lincolnshire late on Friday night.
This dress is rather special and has quite a sad history. It dates from the Regency period (1820) and is made of cotton muslin. The dress was worn by an illegitimate daughter of George IV at her wedding when she was only 12 year old. It is incredibly small and has a low neck and the wide collar has bold indentations edged with ribbon and net lace. It is decorated with Brussels lace under the bust and has huge leg o’mutton sleeves with similar decoration on the cuffs. The skirt is embroidered in white with flowers.
All of the illegitimate descendants of the Prince Regent’s family were objects of shame in the Halsey family and so no reliable records were ever kept. The family had received, until quite recently, a special pension.
A wonderful and exciting collection of interesting and historical wedding dresses dating from the 1820s to the present day. Many of the dresses have been loaned by private collectors as well as national museums. A number of the dresses on show, have been loaned by a number of the great houses of England: Burghley, Belvoir Castle, Somerleyton Hall to name just a few.
The interesting dresses will include one made from the fleece of a Lincolnshire Longwool sheep, loo paper and a complete knitted dress include the sandwiches and cake destined for the reception. Canine wedding dresses will also be featured.