Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue

Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue Blog

Setting Up has Begun

At 9 am this morning, setting up of the exhibition took place.  30 mannequins were delivered from Mannakin (www.mannakin.co.uk).  At 5 pm, Michelle Scott from Scott Trailers delivered the horse mannequin (www.scott-traillers.co.uk).  Apparently, it gave quite a few of the staff a shock this morning on entering the Hall … can’t think why!

So, myself, Rose the Housekeeper and Pat Mellows are all experts in building mannequins.  Poor Pat, she only popped in for five minutes to deliver a dress.  She had a pile of ironing to do and think that is why she was reluctant to go home … however, it could also have been the fact that we were having so much fun!

 Pat Gets to Grips with the legs







 The finished article .. it’s a bit like a line up at an identity parade

Don’t ask!

Not only were Pat and Rose on hand to help but Henry the Hoover was too … he must have been having a good old chuckle at us.  Henry had a really important job to do:  hoover the cabinet which is going to house Princess Mary’s wedding dress for the next six weeks.  It has been ‘touch and go’ and I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be able to get the dress to Doddington.  However, with the help of Dorian Church at Harewood House and ‘Billy the Builder, at Doddington Hall, it has all come together…. so thank you.  We are ver grateful to Earl and Countess of Harewood and the Trustees of the Harewood House Trust.   The address will arrive c1pm on Thursday by special delivery and will be received by Eva Hansson who is the Curator at the Royal School of Needlework.  Eva helped me enormously with last year’s exhibition and I am looking forward to spending some time with her again this year.  Eva will be overseeing it being placed and secured in the cabinet.

Henry waiting for his instructions

Before the dress arrives on Thursday, a special cabinet had to be made and this is now sitting proudly in the Long Gallery waiting for its special guest.  However, when I took some photos of it about a fortnight ago, it was looking a little less elegant.

 The cabinet in its early stages.


The maker of the cabinet and the finest carpenter/builder on the whole of Doddington Estate


People have been popping in and out all day and it has been so exciting to see who is going to arrive next … Rie Day who lives at Fulbeck Hall kindly came and dressed the mannequin with a Japanese Kimono.  We are very grateful to Riko Gordon for lending her Kimono to the exhibition.

 Rie Day in Action

Tomorrow sees another 30 mannequins arriving – I am collecting them from the University of Lincoln in the morning.  However, these don’t need building …. phew.

Tune in tomorrow for more of ‘behind the scenes at the exhibition’.







 This morning was spent with KimberleyVan Haren of Boston High School who won our competition ‘A Designer Dress for a Doddington Wedding’ at the Fashion Department of Lincoln University (www.lincoln.ac.uk).  When we arrived both of the Graduates and Kathy Gaul, Lecturer in Fashion were hard at work.  I had already been to the Department the week before and saw the dress in the early stages so was eager to see what work had been done in that time.   When I saw it last week, I was overwhelmed and I knew that Kimberley would be too!

We were accompanied by Rick Holland, Director of Blink Media (www.blinkmedia.org.uk) as he will be making a short film about the making of the dress.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to get the very early stages but we were able to get quite a lot of filming done this morning as well as a little interviewing too.  It was quite clear from the start that Kimberley, like me, hates to be interviewed.  We also had a few words from John and Jess the two Graduates who made the dress.  When I visited last week, Jess was making the top of the dress which has been ruched … she told me today there was 300 meters of ruching in the top of the dress alone!

Rick caught in the headlights of my camera

I would love to show you an image of the dress but I am sorry you will have to wait as it is not being unveiled until the opening day of the exhibition…. sorry!

Next Wednesday, Kathy and her team  (John and Jess) will descend on Doddington along with 40 mannequins, a few ‘swan neck’ hat mannequins as well as Kimberley’s dress .. and will I be pleased to see them!

As well as many hours spent on the PC, I have also spent many hours on the road.  I have collected three more dresses:  an exquisite Indian dress belonging to a lady called Sidra Waris, one belonging to my gorgeouse friend Henrietta Reeve who lives at Leadenham House – she was married at the Guards’ Chapel in Wellington Barracks, London.  I spent many a happy day in those barracks – I had a penthouse room in the Army accommodation!  Not a good place to live when there was a State Visit or when Trooping of the Colour was happening or even when HM The Queen was having a party (She was a very noisy neighbour):  have you ever tried to sleep through hundreds of pairs of boots with tacks on the soles stamping down flights of stairs … not easy … I’ve slept through an IRA bombing but somehow this noise was louder!  Henrietta has also loaned the most beautiful dress which dates from the 1920′s – there is a connection to Fulbeck Hall which I have yet to figure out … I am just far too tired tonight so I will let you know what it is in due course.

Claire Birch, the owner of the Hall, was given some information on a lady called Lynn Dennison.  I called Lynn just to see if she would be happy to lend something to the exhibition and she jumped at the chance.  Lynn’s work is absolutely interesting and the three pieces I have chosen for the exhibition are below.  They are all made out of paper and wire!  We are so grateful to Lynn for ‘coming up ‘trumps’ at such short notice.

Jane Austen


‘My Mother’s Wedding Dress’

‘Sleeping Beauty’

 The majority of the dresses are now at Doddington – I just have a few to collect from Lincoln County Council’s archives tomorrow and that will be it.  I still have to get my own dress down from the loft … nothing like leaving it to the last minute.  As I type, I am leaning on the box which holds my shoes … mmmmm.. I wonder if they will still fit me?  I am sure after six years even my feet will have put on weight.  Just opened the box and guess what I found … the straps to the dress .. you have no idea how long I have been looking for them!

About 10 days until the exhibition opens but so much more to tell you …. tune in tomorrow.



The Waiting is Nearly Over

For those who follow the blog, you will be aware that I have banging on about ‘that special’ dress.

Well, there is good news. That ‘special dress’ will be coming to Doddington Hall to be part of Old, New, Mostly Borrowed and One Blue – there’s just a couple of boxes left to tick and then all will be revealed!



On Monday 12 July I finally reclaimed by dining room!  How did I do this …. quite easily really .. I moved all of the wedding dresses that had been ‘staying’ in the room to the Blue Room at Doddington.   You have no idea how much light piles of dresses take out of a room!  A number of dresses have been delivered to my home address:  a number of dresses by Marion Thomas (www.marionthomas.co.uk) were brought up from London by my good friend Owen Davies.  Owen was the first male Apprentice at the Royal School of Needlework and was staying with me as he had an embroidery workshop in Lincoln.   Marion has been incredibly generous with the dresses and other equipment that she has loaned to me – she has even loaned her own wedding dress which is just incredibly beautiful.  Many of Marion’s creations have been featured in the top bridal mags such as Brides, Cosmopolitan Bride, You and Your Wedding, Wedding and Home, Bliss for Brides, Wedding Ideas and the Wedding Directory.   A few of the dresses were given an airing on the Saturday but I won’t go into any more detail – if Owen is reading this blog he knows that I am talking about.  Let’s just say that I have some ‘very useful’ photographs!

On 9 July you would have found me at Burghley House (www.burghley.co.uk) in Stamford as I had to collect Miranda Rock’s wedding dress.  I didn’t come back with a dress but I did enjoy some wonderful tea and cake whilst hanging around for an hour or so in the town.  Miranda assures me that her dress will feature in the exhibition.  On my way up the A1, I stopped off at Easton Walled Gardens (www.eastonwalledgardens.co.uk) to collect Lady Ursula Cholmoley’s dress. 

Doddington Hall is a member of Hidden England – the group is made up of Belvoir Castle, Grimsthorpe Castle, Belton House, Rockingham Castle and Burghley House.  Unfortunatley, there are no dresses at Grimsthorpe or Belton but Belvoir, Rockingham and Burghley, as well as ourselves, will have a ‘representative’.

Another wonderful friend of mine, Paddy Killer (www.paddykillerart.co.uk) agreed to lend her wedding dress.  Paddy was delivering a lecture in Hertfordshire so dropped it in on her way home … she ended up staying two days which was great fun. 



Paddy told me ‘that the cotton velvet fabric length was embroidered in 1969 using an ancient Saurer machine, which imitates hand stitching, as a fashion project whilst I was doing my BA Hons at Birmingham Polytechnic. My design was informed by a butterfly’s wing, a popular subject at the time. The threads are DMC cotton perle and stranded cotton.  I made up the fabric length for my wedding dress in 1975. I was married in a civil ceremony, in London Ontario, in the chambers of Judge Marshman, the father of one of my husband’s students at the University of Western Ontario’.

Paddy, the dress is fab but I am not so sure about the shoes!

Yesterday, Tuesday, I collected a stunning black dress from Angela Vickers in Nottingham and on the way home I called into a rather wet and windy Belvoir Castle (www.belvoircastle.com) to collect that Her Grace The Duchess of Rutland has loaned to the exhibition.   The dress was a gift to Lady Ursula D’Abo from Isha, The Maharani of Jaipur (she was the 3rd wife of the polo playing Maharaha of Jaipur, the last ruler of theKachlawaha Clan.  The Maharani sadly died in 1970 and she gifted this dress to Lady Ursula in about 1946/7.  It is heavily decorated with Peacocks which is the sacred bird of Rajastan.

Today I have been scheduling in the collection of the last few dresses that have not yet arrived at Doddington as well as talking to suppliers of mannequins and all the other essential kit that I will need.

This weekend will be very tense as we shall hear on Monday the 19th if we have been successful with our funding bid.  If we are, then THAT VERY SPECIAL DRESS will come to Doddington and I will put you all out of your misery as to what that special dress is.



Wellingtons by Gucci and Shirley Bassey

After the drama of last week, I can tell you that the lucky winner of our ‘A Designer Dress for a Doddington Wedding’ was Kimberley Van Haden of Boston High School.  Suzette Stubbs, Kimberley’s teacher, delivered the good news to her on Tuesday… well done Kimberley.   I really would have loved to have been in the room!

Her designs are now with the Fashion Department and Lincoln University and I know that there is a lot of conversations going on about colours, fabric etc etc … I really can’t wait to see the dress when it is unveiled at the exhibition.  It is going to be a complete surprise to me … so it is going to be a complete surprise to you too.  So, no don’t even bother asking as you are not going to see her designs.

Amy Ward, a former student at  Thomas Cowley High School in Lincolnshire, has been given a commendation as her entry impressed the judges so much.  Amy is going on to Stamford College to study fashion and who knows where she will go from there …. look out for the name in the future.  One of Amy’s drawings has been selected to be made up in a sample piece for her portfolio and she has agreed to lend it to me for the exhibition.. so thank you.  It looked stunning on paper so I can’t wait to see it ‘in the flesh’. 

The winner of 1st prize has been found but I now need to find the winner of second prize.  To have a look at the designs please visit www.facebook.com/pages/Doddington-Hall-Gardens/130213967014534 and email me on fiona@doddingtonhall.com to let me know your favourite design.

The invitations to the Opening of the Exhibition on 1 August have now gone out and the replies are starting to stream in.  I hope that peope remember to reply as I don’t want to be short of wine on the day!  So if you are reading this and haven’t yet replied … I want to hear from or it will be a rather dry party for you.

 Today I was out and about in Lincolnshire and my first stop was Harrington Hall (www.harringtonhallgardens.co.uk) near Horncastle.   The Hall is owned by a delightful couple, David and Shervie Price, and their daughter, Hesther, has loaned her wedding dress (and a pair of Gucci wellies … yes wellies ….) to the exhibition.  The dress was designed and made by Sara Perceval and my next stop was Sara’s house to collect some of her designs.

Sara was one of Europe’s most respected designers and designed for a large number of celebrities.  Her past list of clients include people such as Shirley Bassey, Shakira Caine, Bing Crosby, Britt Ekland, Diana Dors, Hot Chocolate, Rod Stewart … the list goes on and on.  Sara wrote a wonderful book ‘Star Image’ Secrets of a Better Dress Sense’.  The book will feature in the exhibition but I have been reading some of it this afternoon and will continue to read it tonight in bed …. just the Introduction had me hooked. 


Friday sees me on the road again when I will be collecting dresses from Burghley House (www.burghley.co.uk) and Easton Walled Gardens (www.eastonwalledgardens.co.uk)

However, before that I have a MuBu Workshop tomorrow which I am really looking forward to!   



Why I Left London

After flying across the County of Lincolnshire from Boston to Lincoln, breaking every speed limit en route, the judging of the ‘A Designer Dress for a DoddingtonWedding’ Competition judging took place – during and after completing this mercy dash I suddenly remembered why I left London.  The judges:  Kathy Gaul, Lecturer in Fashion at the University of Lincoln, Caroline Chamberlain of Caroline Chamberlain Bridal Couture and myself!  What a tough decision we had to make.  All of the entries were amazing and after much deliberation the overallwinner was chosen.  Sorry readers, but our decision is embargoed until Monday 5 July and you know all about the Judges’ rules being final and all that!  All will be revealed in due course.


The Judges (L-R Caroline Chamberlain, Kathy Gaul and Fiona Baker) with Flora Meyer

The lucky winner will have their dress made up by Graduates at Lincoln University’s Fashion Department and the dress will then be one of the exhibits at the exhibition.  They will also be able to visit the Department to see the progress of the dress …. how exciting … how I wish it was me who won!  To find the winner of Second Prize, I will be loading the designs onto Facebook and asking visitors to the site to vote for their favourite design.  The winner’s prize will be a day spent in the Fashion Department at Lincoln University …. and yes I am still wishing I was the winner.

There was a young lady who entered who really impressed the judges and although, not the overall winner, she will be contacted on Monday and be the receiver of some very good news! 


Difficult Decisions Ahead

Amy Ward



Competition Entries

We had a late entry to the competition – Flora Meyer who lives in France and was visiting her Aunt Claire (owner of the Hall).  Her designed so impressed us that we had to award a special prize of ‘Youngest Entry’.  The shoes she had designed to match the dress, would have made Cinderella proud!  Flora’s mum’s wedding dress will be featured in the exhibition.

Flora Meyer with her winning design

During the judging, we had a few amusing moments:  The first was that Calendar TV turned up as they wanted to do a feature on the competition.  After horrified looks, we all rushed off to look in a mirror.  Secondly, Judy Theobald popped in to do an interview with each of the judges.  These interviews will feature on BBC Radio Lincolnshire in the run up to the exhibition  Judy has an amazing story about her own wedding dress and she has promised to let me interview her so that I can extract the story.   We had Sally, the camera lady from Calendar wearing a replica of Princess Diana’s wedding dress and she looked stunning  as did Judy who performed a balletic routine to shame Angelina Ballerina. 

Sally Taking a Break from Behind the Camera


I thought it time that I let you know what I have been up to since my last post on 5 May.  To do this, I have to look through my diary as I have real trouble remembering what I did the day previously!  .
My main priority has been to select the best dresses for the exhibition and this is proving to be an extremely hard task as I have been receiving lots of emails from people who have heard about the exhibition and would like to lend dresses in their possession.  I get to the point when I think that have compiled the perfect list of dresses only to open my mailbox and find another email of which the contents sound too interesting for me to ignore.  After looking at the photographs which are sometimes attached to these emails, I then have to decide whether to add this new dress to the collection which then means that I have to delete a dress already on the list.  What a dilemma.
You will remember the lady that I mentioned at the end of my last entry.  Well, I was due to meet with her today but we have had to postpone our meeting until Friday.  So I hope to be able to update you on her dress and the interesting story behind it after that.  
My days have also been taken up with quite a few meetings which have been to do with the setting up of the exhibition.  We have been extremely lucky to have been given funding from Renaissance East Midlands (http://www.mla.gov.uk).  The MLA leads strategically and promotes best practice in museums, libraries and archives, to inspire innovative, integrated and sustainable services for all. They are a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Launched in April 2000 as the strategic body working with and for the museums, archives and libraries sector, tapping into the potential for collaboration between them, MLA replaced the Museums and Galleries Commission (MGC) and the Library and Information Commission (LIC).
This funding is allowing me to organise a competition ‘Design a Dress for a Doddington Wedding’ of which the details have already been sent out to the County’s secondary schools.  I have launched the competition in collaboration with the University of Lincoln’s (http://www.lincoln.ac.uk) School of Art and Design and have asked students of Design and Technology submit a design for a dress for someone who might chose the Hall as the venue for her wedding.  I would really like to give someone a ‘step up’ on the fashion ladder and perhaps get their portfolio started.  All of the entries will be judged by the tutors of the University’s Fashion Department, myself and Caroline Chamberlain (http://www.carolinechamberlain.co.uk) – I mentioned a little more about Caroline below.  The winner will then have their dress made up by the students who are currently studying fashion, and it will then be put on show at the exhibition.  The funding is also enabling me to make a short film showing the making of the dress from start to finish.  I will upload details in due course so that you able to follow the progress of the winning dress.
On Thursday, I hosted a visited by Fiona Marshall who is a wonderful lady providing training at the workshops that I am attending that are arranged Renaissance East Midlands.  The training given at each workshop  is proving to be vital to me as they are enabling me to deliver the digital side of the exhibition.  There will be a number exciting digital aspects to the exhibition and I will be able to tell you more about these after my next workshop which is on 25 May.  
On Friday, I visited Caroline Chamberlain at her wonderful studio at Burton Waters, near Lincoln.  As I mention above, Caroline is one of the judges who will help to choose the winning dress from the school’s competition.  I first met Caroline when she brought a number her dresses to Doddington in February for a photo shoot.  Caroline also made up the Lincolnshire Longwool dress that has been loaned to the exhibition by Louise Fairburn.  Thanks to Caroline, you will be able to see the original designs for the dress.  During the exhibition, you will also be able to see a variety of Caroline’s own designs with a new dress appearing on a weekly basis.  It is also hoped that Caroline’s mum’s wedding dress will feature in the exhibition – there was a stunning dress in the window of Caroline’s studio which she had based on her mum’s wedding dress and is very Grace Kelly.

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.