Victorian riding habits – bespoke and stock items

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We have recently been doing a few habits, so I thought I put a post about them together:-)

Over the winter I have been working on a  bespoke one – based on my 1885 version , but in luscious bottle green superfine wool, with  burgundy braid decoration. The colour combination worked very well and suited the client’s colouring ( and the horse’s ) well – and we were lucky enough to grab a few photos when we delivered the habit to sunny Devon.

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Another bespoke habit  for another client is  happening  too, I will post the photos as soon as the work is finished and we get some pictures.

In the meantime, let me introduce to our latest batch – somehow earlier habits, destined to become stock items.

It all happened as  I was working on a certain secret project ( details soon)- we had a horse booked for a side saddle at Historic Equitation, and the day before I found myself  ending the commission work earlier that expected – so had a few hours free, and  6 metres of some rather lovely green cloth…. the temptation was too much! I  went for the simplest look I could think of: no decoration, purely utilitarian,  roughly 1860 look -with big skirts and plain, short bodice  – based on this look.

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The cloth was fantastic – it draped beautifully. W e used the habit for the shoot and for some riding, and had a short photoshoot at home too – with and without petticoat ( period solution as either  corded petticoat or turkish trousers in the same fabric ( so that when the skirt billowed at speed while riding, the legs would be modestly covered). As  you can see, the skirts are very long  to cover the legs, and although they look lovely when mounted, they are a bit of a pain while walking.  Ladies either carried the skirts, flashing the petticoat, or used buttons t o hitch them up – as  shown on this fashion plate from La Mode Illustree

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btw, lots of more images on my Pinterest board 

I was wearing a corset,  white blouse and a velvet ribbon neckband,styled my hair and restyled my top hat a bit  to achieve the look:-)

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skirts on a petticoat here ( shamefully modern bridal one….)

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Once we were done with shooting, I  shared the photos and  put the habit in our online shop – and was flooded with likes, shared, questions etc – and the habit sold within 12 hours, surely  a record! not only that, there is now a queue of side saddle ladies awaiting news whether it fits the lady  who bought it – just in case she returns it….

As a business minded person, I just couldn’t  ignore this situation – and since   had a bank holiday looming ahead ( which I had hoped to leave free  to rest – silly me…), I decided to act on it.  Luckily I was picking some cloth for commissions from my wool merchant, and while at it, I picked a few lengths suitable for habits…

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A very busy time with a sewing machine followed –  and I just managed  to get 2 habits done for another scheduled side saddle session – this time with lovely Jane on her Zara at a very well kept Wakes Manor Livery Yard

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I experimented with a slightly later look for these two – the first one was  based on  a fashion plate from Harper’s Bazar, 1873 ( the sitting lady)

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I used the lovely soft dove grey cloth, edged with black and decorated with velvet ribbon.

Work in progress…

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It is a size ( or even two) too big, but with a loosened corset it looked  well enough – sadly I didn’t have a size 14/16 model  at hand ( working on it..)
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The habit is now available in our online shop, at a discounted price -details here

The second habit was based on this one from the MET 

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I liked the edge treatment and tried to emulate – I used piping and topstitching combination

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and  it fitted me well  – really like the look!

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Then it was Jane’s turn – it fitted her well too –  and kudos to Jane who wore a corset for the first time – and not only wore it, but rode and jumped in it too ( part of  a secret video project I am currently working on..)

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 and yes, there is a corset underneath all that!

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 This habit is also available in the shop – Here

 I have enjoyed making these – and now have plans over summer to work on a few more models in a few sizes options – I already have nice berry coloured cloth and dark green twill put aside for the purpose:-). Although they are stock items,  each habit will be a little bit different, so that  each is unique – nothing worse than going into the Historical class  and finding another lady wearing the same model! And of course if you want something special there is the bespoke option with fittings (  and a different price bracket too….)

Many thanks to all involved in the project so far – greatly appreciated! And a big thank you to the photographer – images courtesy of Pitcheresque Imagery 

The Spanish Death Ride, Valencia 2008

COMUNIDAD/// Cabalgata de homenaje a Jaume I   A bit of a blast from the past – but I stumbled upon the pictures and realised tat I hadn’t blogged about this ‘traumatic experience’ yet; ( mostly because back then I did not have a blog…) Anyway, the story…  The event was set up to re-create the famous civic parade that took place in 1428,celebrating the visit of king James I. Griffin Historical  were  given the mammoth task of organizing  it and supplying riders and ground crew. Over 80 riders and support crew were flown from different parts of Europe – England, the Netherlands, Poland,  etc – and the cavalcade itself  counted over twelve hundred people in total, all in medieval gear… We arrived the day before the event  – most of us were picked up at the airport and deposited in two major hostels in Valencia’s Old Town.  Many of us knew one another quite well – from past events, jousting circle, and other historical and equestrian backgrounds, ( I also brought a friend from my  ECW regiment – not everybody had medieval kit, but many people shared what they had in order to get the look). We just had time enough to go for a walk, admire some fireworks and visit a few tapas bars… DSC00722 DSC00731

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practicing before the event…. on little wooden horses…

The next morning we all breakfasted, assembled  and were briefed, then the kit was sorted out – we put on our hose, chemises, doublets, boots etc… And since I was a bloke for this event,  Griff  placed me in a nice padded gambeson, hiding my womanly flesh, and I got a nice piece of headgear too…. DSC00738   Can you see that it is a woman hiding in there? 🙂 DSC00737 A perfect disguise… Then  it was time to do some dry training, (not mounted). The  folks who were to ride in full armour had arrived a few days earlier and practiced with the horses, so they had a vague idea of what to expect – there were 15 fully harnessed knights, quite a sight! The rest of us were blissfully ignorant, but we had fun discovering our duties… Like marching up in down the training grounds, with long pikes, practicing formations… n796310536_4391791_2308   After hours of that, we had a quick break ( siesta!) and  then it was time….. In the centre a huge tent was erected – huge to house about 100 horses and people…. and that’s where we waited…   n1127359090_30157280_7190   and waited some more…. n1127359090_30157278_6584   …and then suddenly it was time to meet the horses and mount up.   Yeeesss, about that…….

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After initial panic, we were shown the proper mounts…

It turned out that quite a few of the supplied mounts that were brought in were supplied by third parties – from outside of the town. Indeed , as I learnt later, many of them were seeing a town for the first time ever – and it was quite evident. They were lovely horses – many of them stallions, many spooked by the unfamiliar surroundings. It didn’t help that many of the riders were beginners, too – since all we had to do was to sit and walk,  no trotting or cantering,  Griff’s team had to match their abilities to the horses. As it happened, I was busy helping people to mount up, and when the time arrived  for me to get a pony, there were only two left in the tent – a nice chestnut and a lovely gray. There were three people standing next to the chestnut, and none with the gray – good, I thought! so I grabbed the handsome beast and led him out.  Only to learn the reason why he was left alone –  once outside, he completely freaked out, rearing and panicking, impossible to mount up. Nicky, ( who was doing a sterling job of organizing the mounting chaos and helping folks out), just looked and told me to forget it, he won’t do, sorry, I will have to walk. Well, I didn’t fly all the way there to just to walk! In the end, Nick led the horse toward me, standing on a mounting block, and I sort of jumped on en route… and then the fireworks started… After a few hairy moments  of dancing, prancing etc, the horse calmed down and was ok 🙂 n1127359090_30157286_9053   Everybody was mounted and we slowly started making progress towards the start of the cavalcade… the steps first though… 2   In the meantime, the weather took a turn for the worse – it started to rain… As a result, ( I think), we were not given any pikes to hold; ( I was very grateful for that, the moment I saw the narrow alleys and slippery cobbles)… Immediately after we started,  problems started to pop up –  there is no Health and Safety over there, it seems – the public was just next to us, next to the slipping, kicking, biting stallions, and bless them, ( the public, not particularly the stallions), they were fearless, especially the kids. Everybody wanted to pat the horses…  Our ground crew, both Griff’s staff and local folk were a great help – trying to calm don panicked horses, shield the public from the riders, and calm down the riders who suddenly decided that it wasn’t their idea of fun and wanted off, now. My horse was doing OK, despite shying and prancing a bit, he wasn’t rearing and bit my  support crew bloke only once – So I felt reasonably safe on board. The bloke in question, a weathered chap of about 60, named Jose was not only helpful, but talkative and  so we struck a conversation in my halting Spanish.  He was the source of my information about where the horses came from, ( mostly farms and gypsy encampments, according to him), and  about the festival.

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here I am, on my pretty gray pony – he did turn out ok in the end:-)

For me the cavalcade was proving fairly uneventful – stressful, yes, but not nerve wracking. Others were not so lucky… The rain meant the ground was very, very slippery – be prepared, some disturbing photos below.  Just let me say that none of the horses were injured in their falls, ( a miracle, surely!) and the riders escaped mostly  unscathed too 🙂 1223576377137 1223576377227 1223623987888   It does look awful –  but all the horses who fell, did get up and continued the parade. They did not even panic, bless them. Apart from a couple incidents like these, it  all went fine… 0070 0035 0022 1223576308746 COMUNIDAD/// Cabalgata de homenaje a Jaume I 1223580919773__t3a3889 1223581828964__t3a4029   The cavalcade was cut about an hour short due to the deteriorating weather conditions, so we missed the fireworks (just as well), and made our way back to the tent, where we dismounted, (many with an audible sight of relief!) We thanked our mounts and left them with their carers/owners… Duty done, time to party  – well, at least food was first on the agenda, we were starved! There was some entertainment too:

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Armour makes a great drumming instrument…. for many drummers it seems!

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a tad wet… I got even wetter later ( if that was possible) bu disappearing into a flooded manhole – only my reflexes saved me from disappearing for good – but fortunately i managed to spread my arm s wide and grab the edges, and the guys dragged me out. next day we wet to see what it was – it turned out there were some serious roadworks going there, and during the day the site was covered by planks… i guess the food carried off the plans and there was no indication that the street was dug up, especially when you are going knee deep in rainwater….

In in the meantime the weather turned to be of the ‘tropical downpour’ variety… n796310536_4391797_4264   We had to make our way back to the hostels – needless to say we were drenched…. DSC00739   The hostels were flooded too, but nothing we couldn’t deal with 🙂 but all evening party plans, ( we were going to hit a salsa club or two),  were cancelled. The city was flooded too, the streets turned into rivers, cars being swept away – and so hostel based entertainment had to suffice, ( chatting mostly and reliving the experiences of the day). The next  day dawned clear and most of the flooded drained away overnight – so I ended up on a romantic walk around the old town, then back to the hostel to check out. Our flight  was in the evening , so  our small party had some time for sightseeing –  we ended up admiring the town, drying our  clothes,  eating, resting, buying Valencian lace (me, mostly…), and socializing.  The flight back was uneventful – though  there were some scenes of distress at the weighting in of the luggage – water soaked gambeson weighs much, much more than a dry one…. Some paid up the price, some wore theirs on the flight…   The whole event was, well, ‘interesting’ is a mild way of putting it! It was stressful,  exhilarating, scary,  and fun –  and I would do it again!  Alas,  it  was a one off, it seems. Still, that 2 hours of a walking taught me a lot about horse riding, dealing with stress, wet surfaces, public etc – so some learning took  place 🙂   Hope you enjoyed reading the bit – I enjoyed re-living it again!   P.S. the pictures of the cavalcade were taken off the news websites shortly after the event – if any of you know the sources, photographers etc, I would appreciate help with tracing them back 🙂

Some Fun on the Side

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Or, in other words, some of my side saddle adventures:-)

I have been riding since I was 8 –  and although I did some show jumping and cross country work in my teenage years, I was always more interested in doing things a bit differently – loved hacking and covering distance – going on  long trails was always welcome!  In the Uk, I spent a few years riding for a cavalry regiment for the English Civil War Society –  swashing my sword and firing carabines from horseback was by far much more interesting!

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at the battle

I have tried some horseback archery and Roman riding with a group Comitatus – great fun!

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doesnt show, but have just thrown a plumbata at a poor bloke with a big shield…

Nowadays I mostly hunt in Devon and Somerset, riding lovely thoroughbred horses blessed with amazing stamina – going up and down those hills there for 6-7 hours sometimes is by no means a mean feat!

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at the meet – immaculately turned out and clean. 7 hours later, at the end of the day – not so much…

But I have always wanted to give a side saddle a go – to canter through the fields as a real lady would, all style and elegance. Well,  in the recent years SS seems to have been enjoying a come back – and so an opportunity arose one winter, a few years ago, when I was introduced to Michelle who hunts sidesaddle on Exmoor.

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Michelle on her Joseph, all elegance – and me on Zeberdee, warmly wrapped up agains one of the coldest winds ever – more of a wild west hussy than a lady…!

The first lesson went well, and I rode a few times under Michelle’s tutelage – but alas, it turned out to be pure torture! my right knee was in agony after about 20 minutes. and so I thought that my wonky knees were not really designed for side saddle.  I didnt know much about it then and it wasnt till I met Becca Holland, currely working at Audley End House, who suggested that maybe the saddle was just too short for me.  Michelle is petite – me – not so much!

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the first time…

Spirits were raised and i was determined to give it another go. As i just got engaged at that time, i wanted to ride side saddle after the ceremony – so I also had another excuse to learn the skill!

The first lesson was a success – the saddle was bigger and I was really comfortable in it – no knee problems! The mount, lovely, grumpy Henry, was gentle and understanding, and Becca is simply a superb teacher…

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still a bit insecure…

I also discovered that turning to your left can end up badly – my first fall was even captured on the camera ( almost, before hubby turned it off and rushed to rescue – unnecessarily asmy bowler hat was made of sturdy stuff an survived the impact… )video here .

but after a few more tips, I was much more confident and the canter/trot transitions were coming along nicely  

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yupee! cantering on a very sleepy Henry, it seems…

After that lesson weather worsened and all I was able to do is to plod around on the frozen grounds, modeling my growing collection of habits.

Here at a show and tell event,  sporting a 1785 riding habit in wool – double wool vest , wool skirt and jackets meant I was not frozen!

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out in style… with becca keeping an eye over me:-)

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Audley End in its wintery glory

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and a view of the habit, getting ready in the stables:-)

  And another one,  this time 1910 habit…

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wool habit and lovely Jack at the ready

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close up of the habit

But then the spring came and we started training more – and after a few more lessons, and no more falls, I was allowed to go outside and play in a bigger field.

Soon it was time to try something else – jumping! and to make sure I do it properly i was asked to do it without a bridle…video of the first very awkward jump here

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bridless…

As my jumping progressed, we started to add toys – at one lesson i did a lot of jumping and throwing speers at boars – at another i was piercing balloons with a sabre – endless fun!

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our toys…

In the end, i was able to do Becca’s favourite trick – jumping over a table and snatchign a glass of champagne  while flying over – here is my practice run!

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table…

We also included a dress rehearsal before my wedding – just making sure if the Victorian undergarments worked. they did – though I must say we naver had so much audience as when doing the dress rehearsal training!

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and a bit more ladylike trot around…

Alas for my wedding henry had an injured tendon, so I was using one of the hunters – poor boy had a saddle only once before, but luckily it fitted, and  despite the owner’s fretting we were able to canter away just after the ceremony! vids here and here

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cantering away, with my new husband!

Since then another habit was made… this time 1885, in blue wool, with elaborate frogging

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a new habit and a new boy – Jimmy!

We have also had the pleasure to witness the first side saddle point to point since 1921 –  a few piccies here…

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Becca flying over the fences on a borrowed pony

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the winner, Susan Oakes and Lizzie Harris – not competetive at all… 🙂

This spring i hope to continue the training so that next season I am able to do some hunting  aside – fingers crossed.

in the meantime, have a look at Beccas Video: How to ride Sidesaddle like a Victorian Lady

or visit the blog of  the Flying foxes – http://flyingfoxes.org.uk/tag/side-saddle/

 

following huge interest in the habits: they are made by me! check www.priorattire.co.uk or our facebook page🙂

 

 

there are also articles how to make them available on amazon:

the 18th century one

the 1810 one..

and the most asked for, the blue , 1885 habit

 

04/2014 update – a few more  habits and ss adventures happened:-)

a nice training session at Thurleigh Equestrian Centre, sporting my blue habit…

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and a Steampunk shoot too  ( from the Steampunk Amazones Collection)

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 Then a green habit for a customer – love the colour choice here! 🙂

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and the newest, 1860(ish) habit – a stock item the shop:-)

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My Big Fat Victorian Wedding – St. Audries Park, West Quantoxhead, Somerset. 17th October 2011

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 Our wedding day – well, where shall I start? So much was happening in the lead up to this day, and so much happened on the day!  We got engaged on the 1st January, in the midst of Scottish highlands, a few hours after midnight, and a day later most of the details were in place – apart from the venue. We knew precisely what we wanted – a venue with a character, able to accommodate the wedding party on the day, an also one that would allow us to do a post-ceremony hack on its premises – and the last bit proved to be a bit of a problem for many venues.

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Hunting on Quantocks – view from the hills towards the venue

One thing was obvious from the beginning – although we both currently reside in Bedford, it was Devon and Somerset, especially the Quantocks Hills that we both love and spend a lot of our time on holidays, running, riding and hunting, and it went without saying that this would be the place where we want to say our vows.

We had a look at a few venues in the area, but the moment we clasped our eyes on St. Audries, we knew this was it – a spectacular location, just off the Quantocks Hills, my favourite hunting grounds; a place full of character and charm with lovely interiors, luxurious rooms, all set within beautiful grounds. But could we ride there? One call and we were elated – no problems with horse riding on the grounds! In a few days’ time the date was set, the deposit paid and we had 9 months to get ready.

The day itself was – well, incredible.  Busy too, but since we like busy, it suited us very well.  I arrived a day earlier, and stayed at St. Audries for the night before the wedding – we actually booked the little cottage for my bridal party, but since the venue had a cancellation on that night, they very gracefully suggested that we stay in the main house, in our bedrooms, to avoid all the hassle of moving the next day.

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the venue the day before – simply sumptous in its autumnal array!

I arrived before my bridesmaids (having left my husband to be with friends near Tiverton) and enjoyed a leisurely walk around the house – and a last minute sewing session in the bridal changing room. As a professional costumier, I made my own wedding dress (based on 1883 Victorian fashions) and made my mother’s, and bridesmaid’s  outfits too – altogether 5 Victorian toilettes.

Once the bridesmaids arrived (a bit intimidated by the large, quiet house), we got changed and went out for a dinner in a nearby pub. As a hen night theme we chose ‘brides in different cultures’, so, as a result,  we caused a bit of a stir at the pub – not every day do they have girls dressed as Indian, Pakistani, Russian and Chinese brides coming over for a meal and a laugh!

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The Indian bride

After the meal, we retired back to the house, carried out the last preparations (pressing the skirts, last minute stitching, etc) and then slept the night away in our lavish bedrooms.  I must admit that I did sneak in outside, and went for a walk around – and practiced my walking down the aisle in the magical, lantern-lit orangery.

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The Orangery

The wedding day dawned fine – and even if it was overcast, the moods were dramatically improved by a St. Audries breakfast – their croissants are amazing!  The first guests started arriving, so breakfast was a jolly affair in the company of friends, and I even managed to work in a quick game of table football against a good friend and ex-boyfriend as it happens – and I won ( I suspect he let me win, the gentleman he is…)

Breakfast out of the way, moods soaring – time to kit up and get to the meet; we had arranged with the Quantocks Stag Hunt to host a wedding hunt-meet at the nearby Staple Farm. All geared up, I met my future husband at the meet, all beaming and looking very smart in his new hunting gear. The turnout was excellent, and for my part of the family, who travelled all the way from Poland, it was an amazing experience – there is no more hunting there, so being at a proper meet was a real treat.

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me at the meet, on Punchy

Once the port was drunk and snacks consumed, I left my matron of honour to get things organized and to make sure all the quests are established in their respective bedrooms. As it turned out, she didn’t have much to do and the house manager on the day had all things firmly in hand and dealt with everything admirably well – when it turned out that we had one guest extra, a spare bedroom for him was found in minutes. And so, when Lucas and I, together with our hunting guests were riding on the Quantocks, the other guests were relaxed in the house, enjoying walks, drinks and canapés.

In the meantime, the hunt was going well. I have hunted more or less regularly over the last few years, but for Lucas it was the first time – but as you’ll see from the pictures, he was enjoying it immensely.

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Lucas on Ryan, looking, as always, very smug.

Everything was going fine, until about 1.30. This was the time when we planned to leave the hunting to go on without us – we would call for the lorry to pick us up, so that both we and the horses could have a wash and change for the ceremony.

Alas, when we reached for our phones it turned out there was no reception. Not a bar, nothing, zero, nada.  And we were miles and miles away, in the middle of nowhere. There was only one thing left to do: ride in the direction of St. Audries in hope that we could stumble either on a patch of reception where one of us could use the phone, or upon some hunt-followers who would be able to give us a lift.

After about half an hour, we struck lucky – we came across the hunt staff in a 4×4. They got on the horses, we got into the 4×4 – and we were on our way.

As a consequence, we were about an hour behind schedule.  I had about half an hour to make sure the bridesmaids, my mother, etc, were all kitted up, then to have a short bath (made even shorter through the discovery that Jacuzzi and bath foam work surprisingly well together…) and then to get changed myself.

By the time I got to the changing room (leaving Lucas on the floor of our bridal suite, stitching a button back onto his breeches…), the photographer and the videographer were waiting, eager to start shooting the preparation of the bride.

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getting ready

 

 

 

 

I dare say they were disappointed, as the whole preparation lasted about 10 minutes. Petticoats and corset on, two hot rollers on. Wipe any mud from hunting, realize that the makeup I did in the morning was still OK, just needed a touch of powder. Rollers out, hair in the bun, clip on the extensions and style them – 2 minutes work.

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getting ready

Then on went the bustles, skirts, overskirts, train, corset covers and bodice. The tiara and the veil were the last.

 Ready in about 5 minutes, with all the bridal party waiting. Success! Image

 The house organization was impeccable – all the quests were already in the orangery, seated. My father was waiting, as was the registrar, for a short chat beforehand, and off we went. My most profound memory from these moments was that I simply couldn’t stop grinning. Try as I might, the grin was there, glued onto my face and no attempts of serene grace and charm would remove the thing.  Oh well, could have been tears I suppose, so happy to contend myself with the grin.

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walking down the aisle

Off we walked, myself screened from the inquisitive glances of the guests by a huge bridal umbrella. At the orangery, the bridesmaids went in first, to the funky tune of: ‘Here Come the Girls’ getting lots of laughs from everybody. My turn.

Still trying for serene, (and failing miserably), in I walked on my stepfather’s arm, to the tune of ‘Annie’s Song’ – a surprise for Lucas, as I knew it has a special sentimental value for him – I knew he would be touched, and as I later learnt he was – his words, blinking the tears away, were simple, short and to the point. (‘Cow’, he said to his father…)

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The ceremony was simple, straightforward and joyous, with two humorous readings by me and my matron of honour, with Lucas’ reading providing a deeper and more serious note to sustain some gravity of the occasion.

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the grin firmly in place

 Again, please note – the grin was still there. But by that time Lucas was grinning nonstop too, so it was fine.

  The ceremony over, we walked out to the shower of real rose petal confetti , hunter’s horn blazing and a rather unorthodox choice of music (‘Everybody was Kung Fu fighting’ – since we met at our Kung Fu club in Bedford, and still train there, it was only appropriate to incorporate the theme into the day somewhere). We were greeted and congratulated by a friend of ours who is also a professional chimney sweep – in her full regalia, it is considered to be very lucky to pass good wishes to the newlyweds.

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walking out – into the sunshine!

Outside, the weather improved – we actually had some warm rays of sunshine peeping thorough the orangery windows during the ceremony, and when we were outside we had both sun and clouds,; good conditions for some excellent photos – so Phil from Lensmonkey Photography was hard at work trying to get a few nice poses out of us.

video from the ceremony – here

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MInutes into the wedlock, both looking smug…

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circulating in style, Ryan and Punchy on their best behaviour too!

We walked over to the main entrance, where our horses were waiting for us. Punchy, a lovely thoroughbred I rode earlier on was all cleaned up and ready for Lucas, and Ryan, was all kitted up with a side saddle and a decorative cloth (to protect the skirts) for me.

I removed my train, got on, helped by my side-saddle instructor and a friend Becca who also got me a lovely antique side-saddle hunting whip as my first bridal present! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K08FLBD8eAU

We walked the horses around, chatting with the guests and family, and trying to calm down the owner of the horses – (since the horse I was supposed to ride aside had suffered an injury two weeks earlier, we opted for one of the local horses and that was only his second time aside).

After a few minutes of circulating, we cantered away for a few minutes alone. After the first mad gallop we slowed down to trot, then walked and rode side by side  amidst the beautiful grounds of St. Audries, with the deer from the fenced off park looking at us curiously – our first hack out as a husband and wife,  very romantic! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42_BYRSGNi4

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and off we go, leaving quietly, before breaking into a nice canter outside!

 

Once we got back, it was time for chucking my lovely bouquet at some hopeful lasses. The main hall and the staircase of the venue provided a perfect location for that, and it was my cousin from Warsaw who was fortunate enough to secure the bouquet – though only ‘by the skin of her teeth’ as the saying goes, since the thing almost landed on my Matron of honour’s hat…

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bouquet on its way, just slipping through Eleanor’s fingers…

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Happy Kasia with her catch

 

A quick change before dinner – I swapped the afternoon bodice of my outfit for the evening one, and bustled-up the train so that it was easier to walk and to dance in, and Lucas changed his buckskin breeches and riding boots into proper Victorian trousers and more sensible shoes.  A few more photos in the lovely library, chatting to family and friends and shortly it was time to get to the dining room.

A quick note – this is usually a traditional time of accepting presents etc – but we opted for the convenience of a ‘Buy Our Honeymoon’ service, so our guests gad already given us the best gift of all – the chance to spend our honeymoon in a lovely location, doing the things we enjoy.

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more wedded bliss!

By that time, I must admit that I was rather hungry – my last meal had been a snack at the meet so I, and no doubt many others, were very much looking forward to the anticipated feast.

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Faye and Julie

And a feast it was! We chose autumnal dishes from St Audries menu – choices of venison terrine, goat’s cheese, roast turkey, venison roast and then an apple crumble and cheesecake for dessert – and everything was absolutely phenomenal – to such an extent that a few meals destined for the couple who didn’t arrive disappeared even before the staff had a chance to enquire about those missing guests…

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 Speeches – with lots of humour and a bit of embarrassment (especially for my stepfather, bless him, when he started talking about my first boyfriend and I promptly  corrected him, that he was by no means the first, probably utterly destroying the poor man’s faith in my innocent youthful conduct…) Lucas’s best man was his father –  and that arrangement resulted in an unusual and a touching speech, very different from the standard ones. Lucas said a word, and I said a few too, (no way I was being excluded from the fun on my own wedding day!

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cutting the cake

Appetites sated, we cut the cake (a mouth-watering Autumn berry Pavlova, provided by the venue) and proceeded to the hall for the dancing part of the evening.

Our first dance was a Viennese waltz, danced to the ‘Voices of Spring’. Half way through the guests joined us (it was a very, very long tune…) and we all swayed away, as many of them had attended the dancing practice we organized for our guests a month earlier.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=ZGPOpa-e_MQ&feature=endscreen

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waltzing away

The Waltz was followed by the traditional Polish dance, the Polonaise – it is traditionally danced to open balls and proms and is a perfect way to get everybody onto the dance floor – it is a walking dance and no experience is needed as all you need to do is to follow the couple ahead.

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my parents joining in the waltz

The Polonaise had its desired effect and once on the dance floor people joined in the next few traditional tunes – we had a few slow waltzes, quickstep, another Viennese, and even a spirited polka.

The in-house DJ was great – I had prepared lists of songs and tunes that were to be played, and he didn’t mind it at all and was happy to get the list started in all the right moments.

The Victorian part of the evening ended at about 9, when a hot buffet and the wedding cake was served – the interlude was utilised by the costumed guests for removing corsets, bloomers and bustles and getting into more modern attire.

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the evening attire in s steamy cha cha!

  We started the second part of the evening with a steamy cha cha (danced to ‘Sway’) and after that some very eclectic music followed – Latin rhythms mixed with pop and rock tunes kept us on the dance floor till midnight – though not a lot of guests kept our pace – mostly due to the fact that the allure of the buffet and bar in the neighbouring rooms was too strong. Not surprisingly I must admit – the buffet was great and the Pavlova was a truly inspired choice – light and fruity but not too sweet, it worked perfectly!

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guests relaxing with some booze…

Just after midnight even we were getting tired. The whole party was wrapped up smoothly and we got to our lovely bridal suite amidst cheers and leery smiles.

Next morning breakfast was a lavish affair, with a growing demand for those already famous croissants J.  We said our goodbyes, packed up (many people were leaving with a generous dollop of the Pavlova cake – we took some too, and with the addition of more berries it made a lovely Eaton mess in the afternoon.

It was a sad moment, leaving the venue  after such a spectacular and unforgettable day – but we knew we would be back at some point, in the worst case I would be waving at it from the Quantocks during one of our hunting days there.

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my new husband with his new in-laws, the day after!

We did manage a nice walk on the hills that day, together with my parents, and then a quick visit to Dave and Ellen who were providing the horses and who also helped by arranging the wedding meet in the morning. We thanked them and the horses and were on our way, getting my parents to the airport.

 

We were due to leave on our honeymoon a few days later – but that’s a different post…. here  

And now, for the list of all those who made our day so special:

The venue – http://www.countryhouseweddings.co.uk/st-audries-park/

St Audries Park is a
wedding venue in Somerset run by
Country House Weddings

 

The photography http://www.lensmonkey.co.uk/

the outfits: www.priorengagement.co.uk.

flowers: http://www.eden-florist-taunton.co.uk/

wedding dance choreography and lessons: http://www.danceandfitness.co.uk/

More photos can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2812960732574.147527.1515469250&type=3

And if you want to know how the wedding dress was made, the link are here – Part1  and Part 2