Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue

Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue Blog


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!


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.