Hats, gloves and photos

One of the last hats to make for the schools’ project is a straw hat for a farm labourer. We picked up a bundle of plaited straw at the reenactment fair last year, but it’s taken a while to work out what to do as it didn’t come with instructions, leading to quite a lot of guess work. 

The straw was soaked in water first for a short while, before the end was curled around and sewn together. The straw was sewn in a spiral, flattening along the way, occasionally pausing to shape it over a mould – a bowl of a suitable size and shape. The brim was a continuation of the crown. Stones were used as weights to flatten it while it dried. 


Over 20 metres of linen thread was used to sew it together and there’s still enough straw left to make probably another two hats.     

Our skilled embroiderer and lace maker have been at it again. They have, barring a few sequins, finished the embroidered gloves using the pattern in Seventeenth Century Women’s dress patterns book 1. They look amazing! 


Another volunteer is making a headdress which includes a hair net with gold thread. After several trials of different types the final net is based on instructions for a parrot net. Still need to get a photo of it, but it looks very impressive.

Our next costume day is on Monday 25 May – it’s not just for kids, and has proved very popular with adults. Photos from the last event, on 4 May, have just gone on to the photo gallery.  


Easter Monday

We had an enjoyable first costume day of 2015, busy but not too manic, allowing us to get back in to the swing of things. The new outfits looked great on the various people who tried them. Lots of photos were taken – just finished sorting through them and posted some here on the drop down list under the photo gallery tab.

We even had a mention in a national newspaper! A columnist in the Daily Telegraph at the end of March wrote about how visits to National Trust properties have changed over time, and there is more jollity now with activities such as chocolate Easter trails and Tudor dressing up at Trerice. We were even mentioned in the same paragraph as Poldark, which will be the closest we ever get to Aidan Turner! 

(Trerice was Winston Graham’s inspiration for Trenwith, one of the Poldark family’s houses)

Our next costume day is Monday 4 May.

Arundell Wardrobe Unlock’d 2015

There’s only one more day left before the first costume day of the new season. On Easter Monday visitors of all ages will have an opportunity to try on clothes based on the Arundell brasses from the 1560s and 1570s, and get a taste of life as one of the household at Trerice in the reign of Elizabeth I. 

We’ve spent the last week or so putting the finishing touches to some new costumes, and tweaking some of the old ones. The new grey gown with farthingale is finished and is awaiting it’s first trying on. 

We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow in the Hayloft. 

Celebrating Richard Arundell

While the rest of the country are full of anticipation awaiting the reburial of Richard III, we’ve been thinking about our own Richard – the first Lord Arundell of Trerice, who was created Baron Arundell 350 years ago today (23 March 1665).

Richard Arundell was born c1616, and became an MP for Lostwithiel in 1640. When the civil war broke out he fought for the King as a colonel of Cornish infantry. He was at the battles of Edgehill and Lansdown before joining his father John and the garrison at Pendennis Castle in 1646. The family’s estates were later confiscated and they were fined £10,000. The King had apparently promised ennoblement in 1643 but it was not until after the Restoration that it was possible and not until 1665 that Arundell had regained his fortune to be able to uphold the dignity. Like his father, Richard was also governor of Pendennis Castle, a position he held from the 1660s until his death in 1687. 

It seemed like a good excuse for cake! 

Bringing up the Bodies – or Heads will roll

This week we’ve been finishing off some more of the schools’ project outfits. There’s only a couple of hats to make up and a few alterations to carry out. We’ve also continued making our models for displaying our work in the Great Chamber next week. 

The papier mâché heads have now dried out thoroughly and it’s quite satisfying to  pop the balloons and hear them peel away inside. The next step was to cover them with some muslin or thin linen over some strategically placed wadding for chins and cheekbones. They look great from the front but a little Frankenstein-like at the back…

The bodies are made from broom handles and a short bit of wood for the shoulders, covered with two pillows, supported by stands, including the bases of garden umbrellas and Christmas trees. Some of the heads need a little more attention to make them stay upright – that’s a job for Monday morning. It’s surprising how some of the pillow bodies need to lose weight already! 

Body building TCG style

We’re preparing for a display of our schools project outfits, so once again our workroom gained an air of Blue Peter about it. This time we more making bodies to tie in with the existing ones – broom handles and pillows etc. First of all were some papier mâché heads for the top of each to display the hats and headdresses. We added some features to make them look less like balloons, but they could look a little freaky.


Now just waiting for them to dry while we work out what to do next.

Finished off a baby’s outfit, based on the John Dunch pattern in Tudor Child. It’s body, so far, is a couple of cushions…


Surprise of the day came in the form of cake! Wonderfully made by one of the group, based on the mid Tudor blue noble lady’s dress for the schools’ project.


Solution found!

Carrying on from the last post about attempting knitting, the best way forward appears to be to rope in more experienced knitters from among the volunteers at Trerice! This week one lady came in with 10 knitted coifs, yes ten, that she did over Christmas. Very impressed. She got it down by the end to three hours per hat and without the pattern!


A regular of the Costume Group has undertaken knitting a thrum cap to go with our sailor’s outfit. I’ve been told it’s supposed to be very weather/water proof… I think a volunteer is needed to test it!

This one looks odd, but more hat like (?) than the next photo which was possibly pulled too far on the stand and looks like some weird sea creature.


Returning to safer ground, a gown for an adult lady, for the summer costume days, is under way. It’s turned into a group effort with various bits being stitched by different people. The skirt needs attaching to the bodice, some jewellery applied and a whole load of lacing holes are still to be done. It’s loosely based on portraits of Mary I in the 1550s and a portrait of Joan Tuckfield of Exeter in 1560.


Knitting – better not give up the day job!

Succumbing to a clearance sale in Hobbycraft I bought a set of five double pointed needles and a ball of cheap wool, and thought it a good excuse to have a go at the knitted coif in Tudor Child. Just to clarify, I’m a complete novice at knitting, with not much idea about all the various stitches let alone reading a pattern! Thank goodness for YouTube!

The initial eagerness started to wane after the twentieth failed attempted to get started knitting with five needles. It was really tricky to see what was going on with two stitches on each needle, and everything ended up in a large knot several times. Not willing to quit, I thought it would be easier to start with four stitches on each needle – it was easier to see and keep it in the square formation, however there was quite a large hole in the middle. (There were a few too many holes in this attempt).


Almost lost the will at one point when having to do 18 rows of the same thing, not helped by losing count on occasion. Just after this it all started to go a bit wrong reading the pattern… the knitting must have got turned inside out at one point so the last bit looks the reverse of the crown. Then confusion fell when creating the back and ear flaps, the opening became far too small, and K10 I later realised meant knit 10 stitches not 10 rows. By this point it seemed best to abandon ship! Somehow ended up with a holey flat cap type thing which may or may not be useable…


Not wanting to be defeated I started again, and this time managed the two stitches on each needle at the beginning.

It seemed a lot easier/clearer the second time around. Until near the end when you go from one ear flap to the other, which was a little unclear, but I made something up and it seems to have worked ok. There was one point doing the back that I used the wrong stitch and have ended up with an unintended ridge but I suppose it will help to distinguish the front and back for the wearer.

It was only when I finished I noticed various dropped stitches, although not so bad as the first attempt, which I’ve sewn up. The coif is supposed to be felted next, which if it works will hopefully hide any repairs that have been added, but I think the cheap wool was acrylic…