Victorian Christmas in Stoke Rochford

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 Last weekend of November and the first day of December last yer saw us, rather unexpectedly in Stoke Rochford  Hall, attending a Victorian themed Christmas market.  A bit unplanned event, but Black Knight Historical lured us there with one single word – ice rink…

 So the rooms in the hotel were booked  and we were  looking forward to doing some trading and meeting friends – but also, skating!and taking lots of photos of course:-)

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the hall

 The hotel was lavish – fantastic surroundings to work with. And work I did – since the skating issue triggered a sudden need for a skating gown – a rendition of the 1876 February frock from the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, and i jut had enough time to do as much as i could on the machine and finish the dress by hand on Saturday at the event, ready for the skating on Sunday.

 Alas, the ice rink proved to be a bit disappointing – a small affair with plastic ice. I brought my own skates, and they did slide a tiny bit, but the ones available to hire were hopeless – not able to glide at all! Maybe safer for children, but disappointing for others, still, we had a go – and Lizzie (  or, if you prefer her professional name, Miss Lillian Love) came along to join the fun n one of our Victorian inspired frocks. a few pictures below….

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pretending to be gliding… standing still in fact!

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almost!

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don’t worry, I am also pretending to to have fallen…

After fun on the ‘ice’ we had some fun strolling in the gardens:

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bustles!!!!

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  Then it was time to go back to the stall and do some work – Lucas in the meantime  took some nice photos of Eleanor, sporting her new silk velvet dolman jacket

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cozy!

The stall was busy, but I managed to find intervals to work on the new outfit…

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finishing touches….

Eleanor was also busy – shopping for Christmas prezzies!

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while Lucas manned the stall….

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  The evening saw us sneaking out to Grantham for a nice quiet dinner – and we found a lovely Italian restaurant with excellent food!

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the starters looking good, and tasting even better — was trying not to think about wearing a corset the next day….

Sunday started with fittings for Eleanor’s Christmas gown, then back to the stall  to work on the frock. by the midday the frock was done and Lucas went snapping….

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the wool and fur were nice and warm!

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 The dress diary, and indeed the instructions on how to make the dress,  step by step, are published in an article on Your Wardrobe Unlock’d – enjoy!

 Other people occasionally got in from of the camera too – here’s one of Ian, who apparently does not approve of  advertising one of my handmade Christmas wreaths on his hat…

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he is not amused…. 🙂 or is he?

 

All together, a  splendid little weekend with friends, spent in exciting environment – good times!

 

photography- Pitcheresque Imagery,

dresses –Prior Attire  

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Victorian Christmas at Holkham Hall 2013

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Ooops, we did it again:-). And yes, indeed Prior Attire was again hired to provide costumed interpretation at this stunning venue.  It was our fourth time at Holkham Hall, and a third Christmas ( previous events are covered here), and each of the events was organised by Black Knight Historical, employing a range of Victorian characters and interpreters –  visitors were greeted  on the gate by  period characters,  in the kitchens maids, cook and housekeeper were busy preparing Christmas dishes, whereas upstairs  a variety of genteel folk would entertain the visitors with tales about the house, Victorian customs, etiquette and  current fashions.

  Outside, there was a lot of entertainments –  swings, carousels, carriage rides, Christmas market, stalls with food, mulled wine, and a lovely restaurant.

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One Sunday we managed to snatch a ride and arrived at the house in style despite the strong wind.

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in the compound at the end of the day

The house interiors were simply stunning. You will probably recognize the Hall from the film The Duchess, and I bet Georgiana would appreciate its festive decor.  Each year the decorations in every room are different, and theme changes every year too. This time it was the Fairy land – a very whimsical, Lewis Carol-like wonderland , with live Fairies, footmen dressed as animals etc.

We spent 2 weekends working in those sumptuous surroundings –  and although the interacting with about 1000 visitors a day is not for the fainthearted ( or those with laryngitis), it was great fun to meet so many interesting people and talk on so many fascinating topics. The most popular were: Victorian toys and their manufacture,  dress and clothing  ( especially children’s items)  Victorian Christmas traditions ( which carols were sung, Christmas cards, food,) pastimes and etiquette – as always the language of the fan was a popular theme; Victorian technology and inventions, railway,  electricity; social structure, manners and dancing –  so a very wide choice of topics! I realized that apart from good old English, I also talked in French, Spanish and even managed a bit of Mandarin! very exciting.

Alas, since we were working and in character all the time when visitors were around, we couldn’t take any photos  during working hours – but we did snap a lot before the Hall was open to the public – so enjoy the small virtual tour below!

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very jolly!

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the gigantic Christmas tree in the front room

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trying to talk our way into the Santa’s grotto… failed miserably, the guard was to diligent…

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stunning tree in the Faery bedroomImage

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someone has had too many mince pies, it seems…

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High Octave ( hope i remember the name well) gave several amazing performances

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there was also something less conventional to unwrap on Christmas day…

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the whole South Dining room was converted into a paradise for gingerbread men…

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gingerbread folk having fun in a bubble bath

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or skating….

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there was a wooded Winter Wonderland with moving animals…

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including a bowing unicorn

 

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and those who wanted to snatch a mince pie suffered for it…LJP_9392

In the evenings we stayed in the cottage and relaxed, saving our vocal cords….

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or worked on clothes – fabric arriving late meant Eleanor’s new frock was being finished on Saturday evening….

But all was done in time and the next morning lovely photos of Eleanor in her new finery were taken

 

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and finally wearing her reversible dolman on the other side…

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Lucas at work…

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alas, i wasn’t allowed to unpack any of the prezzies….

  Well,  all those above were just a taste of the attractions – we are already wondering what new and different visual feast will  Lady Coke be preparing for the next year  – no doubt  something equally spectacular!  If you live nearby, make sure you visit – it truly is an unforgettable experience! The house is open to visitors not only during Christmas – so do check their events diary!

Many thanks to Black Knight Historical and the Holkham Hall Team for all their hard work!

 

Victorian Commission

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In February I was commissioned to work on a rather exciting project – a set of 7 Victorian dresses, ranging from late 1860 to 1885,  with a couple of sets of underwear.

 The  clothes will be used in a rather exciting venture – a set up photography studio where people can book a complete victorian make over – dress up in all the layers and have their photos taken by professional photographer, resulting in high quality photos of themselves transported into another century. What a cracking idea! 

 The budget limits and the target audience of the clothes  meant taking a few shortcuts and freedoms – the client, in order to save time and money suggested using an overlocker on the inside seams and edges; petticoats sport elasticated bands to fit most sizes. Corsets will be mostly purchased online – a few suitable vendors were recommended, where the client can get cheap corset that will result in approximately silhuette, and which woudl be easily replaced with wear and tear.

 after a few emails and sending over different pictures, I received a set of pictures I was to base the dresses on.  The pictures were to serve as  guidlines only: the aim was to reproduce the look  and the feel within the budget specified for each garment.

 I must say, that was a perfect solution for me – as it also allowed me to use my ideas and creativity – and in the end the client actually got a better deal out of it as i was using far more lace, nice buttons and quality trims etc simply because I enjoyed working with the items and was making sure they are pretty!

 Even before we have signed the contract for the frock, the client bought the first Victorian gown I have ever made – my mother’s outfit for my Victorian wedding:-)

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Mother of the Bride outfit in silk brocade and taffeta

  We have arranged for the undergrments to be made first and then each month i would complete 2 or 3 gowns,.

  the first batch: the undergarments:

 bustle cages and pads ( 2 cages and 3 pads altogether):

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steel boned bustle cages, decorated with lace

 
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one of the pads

 

cotton petticoats – 2 flounced ones, one Natural Form era petticoat

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2 flounced petticoats worn on the bustle cages

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Natural Form slim petticoat with lace and pintucks, worn on a pad

The dresses were next.

1. a dress in green silk

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inspiration photo…

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the rendition – in green silk, detachable lace cuss and optional belt. size 14

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2. A dress in black and gold silk

 

 

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black silk satin, gold taffeta, gold antique braid. size 12, so could try it on!

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3. A polonaise

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polonaise – the client requested cream instead of navy, and lace

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skirt in silk taffeta, with lace overlay, polonaise in cream silk brocade, size 14

 

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back unbustled

 

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or bustled up

 

4. a Natural Form era dress in ivory and navy

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the inspiration

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rendition – silk taffeta in ivory and blue, size 14

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too big, but had to try it on!

 

5. 1885 walking dress

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the inspiration

 
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rendition_ silk velvet and ivory brocade with pink pattern. size 12

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and the inevitable happened..

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6. a dress in red velvet…

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the inspiration

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red velvet, cream moire skirt, white lace

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7. the same dress, but in black velvet, size 18

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black velvet, white satin skirt,

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 As a freebie, ii enclosed 2 hats – two boaters and 2 visiting, flashier ones.

 the boaters:

 

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  Altogether, a very iinteresting commission that was a pleasure to work on – the client is very happy and we are currently discussing a similar order, for children’s clothing, also Victorian – so there may be a follow up!

 

 The moment the studio starts thier Victorian make overs, will post a link here too:-)

 Hope you have enjoyed  lookign and the results of the work as much as i have enjoyed making them!