Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue

Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue Blog

BROKEN PROMISE

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.

After lunch, I made my way to Tasty Vintage (http://www.tastyvintage.com/) which is a wonderful shop based at 9 Steep Hill in Lincoln and is owned by a lady called Harriet.  She sells vintage clothing and accessories from the 1920s through to the 1970s.  She showed me to her newly created ‘wedding room’ and what she had in there was mouthwatering.  I have chosen a number of dresses which include a couple from the 1960s … very Twiggy and a wonderful velvet number from the 1920s which has a headdress a bit like Julius Ceasar’s laurel wreath.  Not only has Harriet offered to lend me these dresses but she has also offered her own wedding dress – you can see it in the photo on the right.  This too is from the 1960s.
Also, this week we have been busily designing the flier for the exhibition.  It is very stylish and you will soon see these in and around the venues in Lincoln … do pick one up or even a few so that you can pass them on to your friends.
This Friday I will be in Nottingham looking at another collection of dresses.  Again, I will have some difficult decisions to make but will let you know of just a few that might be making their to Lincoln.

 

LOCAL HEROES

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.

Today Tuesday, I was in Fosdyke near Boston to meet a lady called Janet Verity who contacted me after my appeal on BBC Radio Lincolnshire last year, to tell me that she had a dress dating from 1939.   The dress belonged to her mother, and again like the dresses of that time, is very small.  It is made of silk adorned with painted flowers.  Janet told me that her mother wore the dress quite a lot after the wedding, as in those days, you bought something that you could wear again and again.  There is a rather sad story to this dress as the Groom left for War two days after the wedding.  I will have more to tell you when I next write as Janet will be sending me the complete wonderful story.  The good news is that the groom did return from the War and the happy couple were married for many years.
The lovely thing for me is that not only have the dresses been kept but there are hats, cards and other gorgeous little keepsakes.  Janet showed me a photograph of her daughter who was wearing the most divine red hat which was sat at a most precarious angle…..the same hat was laying on the table in front of me.  It turns out that it is the hat belonging to the wedding dress.  It has the original flowers and strap.  If you look to the right of the hat, you will see a card …. this is just one of a wonderful collection of cards exchange between Janet’s parents during their time apart due to the War.
My friends always ask why I keep things that they think should be thrown away … well this is your answer…. mementoes from important days or events should always be kept …. you just never know when someone is going to arrange an exhibition.  I have kept a scrapbook and diary since the 1980s and when I flick through them I am always amazed at what I have done over the years.  I always have a chuckle when I read some of my old diaries as I may have forgotten about a particular event. 
Don’t forget to have a look on or around 22 April as I may well have some very good news.  
 

CHILD BRIDE

Whilst labelling some portriaits in the Hall today, I was ‘grabbed’ by Doddington’s answer to Max Clifford …the very lovely Amy Claridge who looks after the PR side of things at the Hall.
Amy needed to send out a press release out which she would like to do ‘as soon as’ and wanted to get some shots of me ‘at work’.  I was quite reluctant as I didn’t particularly look or feel my best and had ten lovely chipped nails which I would have to hide in the photographs she would have me posing for.  
Nevertheless,I looked out a couple of dresses, both of which wouldn’t even fit over the mannequin as they were so small!  After much laughter, mainly from me, we managed to find one that fitted and the only reason for this is because it was worn by a child. 

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. 

Whilst we were photographing the dress, Amy and I were discussing what the bridge might have felt on the day of the marriage, where the wedding took place and how she would have been feeling.
This dress forms part of the Doddington Hall collection.
 

About this Sponsor

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.

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