Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue

Old, New, Mostly Borrowed And One Blue Blog


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.  


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.

1940s Dress

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
info@doddingtonhall.com or visit the website http://www.doddingtonhall.com/

For more information on the exhibition please contact:

Fiona Baker

You can also follow progress at fifibaker@twitter.com


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.