Autumn for Trerice Costume Group

Since the summer costume days ended the group has been cleaning and mending clothes. Some of the outfits have been completely remodelled, such as a red English gown which was covered in snags and frayed ends and looked rather a mess. Using material from another pair of red curtains, the old gown was used as pattern to make a new one. The lining and puffed sleeves have been reused in the new version too. 

Our version of Tudor Tailor’s Mary Feilding which has been very popular has also shown signs of wear on the lining, which has become holey, and on the buttons. These have now been replaced and the garment has been given a new lease of life.

The front of the academic gown was looking very bobbly by the end of the summer. On closer inspection the front panels were inside out compared to the back and sleeves, so it was taken apart, turned around and rehemmed before putting it back together.

We discovered that ruffs can survive the washing machine. Some got quite grubby over the summer and after much debate on the best method of cleaning, it was decided to use a gentle wash with a lot of Vanish. We used some thin hair rollers to shape the ruffs as they dried, and don’t seem to have lost much of their stiffness.

In addition to repairs we have been making preparations for Halloween and revamping some of the Tudor banqueting costumes.

Remodelled dress

    The original dress

The waist of the original dress was ridiculously high for a 1570s outfit so the material of the original dress has become a skirt, stomacher, paned sleeves and headdress, combined with a new gown from donated curtains.

Now off to watch Tudor week on Bake Off! 

17 August 1646

370 years ago today the Royalist garrison at Pendennis Castle, led by John Arundell of Trerice, finally emerged after agreeing terms of surrender. They had held the castle for 5 months against the Parliamentarians and it was the last remaining Royalist castle in England. By mid August the garrison was depleted by famine, disease and desertion. 

John Arundell, sometimes known as ‘Jack for the King’, was born in November 1576 and was heading for his 70th birthday at the time of the siege. He was the son of John the rebuilder and grandson of Sir John who feature in the brasses which are the starting point for the costumes at Trerice.  Not long after the siege ended ‘Jack for the King’s’ wife and daughter, both called Mary, died from the deprivations suffered in the castle, and as a result of the family’s involvement in the siege and their loyal support of Charles I, their estate was sequestered and were fined £10,000.

The family were later rewarded for their loyalty to the Crown with a barony after the Restoration of Charles II, but John did not live to see this, so his son Richard became the first Lord Arundell of Trerice. 

Whodunnit – more uses for curtains

The Murder Mystery last month was well received and the actors looked just the part in their 18th century outfits.

Outfits for the stable boy, the clergyman and Lord Wentworth joined those for Lady W and the chamber maid. They consisted of shirt, breeches, waistcoat, coat, neck tie, tricorn hats and wigs. Lord W’s suit was made from curtains bought originally for a bridesmaid’s dress along with left over curtain material from Lady W’s petticoat for his waistcoat. 

There were a lot more buttons involved than I expected and seemed to be forever covering buttons!

We were very pleased that the clergyman’s outfit fit so well because we were given relatively few measurements and it was first tried on the day before the performance.

We took a few shortcuts: Two of the tricorn hats were adapted from floppy black felt hats from Primark. Buckles for shoes made from card wrapped in foil with a black piece of material behind. Football socks were a short notice substitute for stockings.

We found that the wigs needed a fair bit of attention to make them look reasonable as they didn’t look much like the pictures on the packets. Luckily we have a hairdresser in our midst to put it right.

Yards of gathered fabric trim was also added to Lady W’s dress to finish it off. 

A couple of photos from the dress rehearsal:

Not long now

The first costume day of the summer holidays is fast approaching – only a few hours. We’re looking forward to helping visitors step back in history and tread in the footsteps of the 16th century Arundell family of Trerice by trying on something from our range of Tudor clothes. Fun for all the family and hopefully the weather will hold out nice. 

Murder most foul (or another way to use two pairs of curtains)

Amidst the usual Tudor clothes making we’ve been asked to make costumes for the Murder Mystery Evening at Trerice on 15 July. The whodunnit is set in 1768, the year of the last Lord Arundell’s death, which means jumping forward two centuries and researching a whole new era of clothes. Ever up for a challenge, this meant turning to Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion book 1 and trying to make head or tail of pattern books by Elizabeth Friendship, as well as looking at existing garments, portraits and other resources. 

Recycling some skirts that were lurking in a cupboard, with the addition of a Janet Arnold pattern for a suitable jacket, the chambermaid now awaits some linen accessories to finish off the outfit. 

There’s also a sack dress for a noble lady, with panniers, in progress, made from two pairs of curtains.

The panniers

The petticoat

Detail of petticoat waist, based on a surviving petticoat in the MET Museum??  Seemed like a good idea as it should reduce the bulk of material around the waist a bit. 

The robings over the top, with a bodice that closes in the front to have a foundation to pin the stomacher to – ideally there would be a corset but there might not be enough time to complete one, on top of everything else.

Back of the gown

Gown with stomacher balanced in place.

It’s looking something like they’re supposed to at this point but the front and the sleeves weren’t sitting quite right and I wasn’t happy with the back much either so it all came apart again. 

Out came the sleeves. 

Off came the piece at the back of the neck at the top of the pleats. 

Apart came the shoulder seams. 

Pleats unpicked and reordered slightly diffently. 

In went a back yoke piece that I didn’t understand previously why it was needed – now I did. When inserted it did actually make a difference to the front, because it affected the lie of the shoulder seams. 

Shoulders resewn and the front pleats realigned, everything sitting a lot better so far.

The sleeve flounces also went through a makeover. At first they were just one, lined, but this made them too heavy, so out came the unpicker again. Now with two flounces for each sleeve, out came the pinking shears to attack the edges, and one became smaller than the other to sit on top of its partner. The flounces were finished off with two layers of lace underneath before attaching them to the sleeves and then sewing the sleeves back on to the gown. 

The revamped dress:

The men’s costumes are still in mock-up stages, and seem a bit too long, so possibly back to the drawing board with those. 

For more details about the Murder Mystery Evening visit

Another busy Bank Holiday

We had glorious weather for today’s costume day but not everyone went to the beach and, after a slowish start, we were quite busy. We had some lovely people in today, and some equally delightful comments about their experience. 

‘Thank you so much for all the work you put into making it an amazing experience … to see what we would have looked like as Tudors’

‘Amazing costumes, we’ve all had so much fun’

‘How beautifully well done. Stepping into time as I’ve never seen it done anywhere else’.

Thanks to everyone! 

What a way to spend a bank holiday! 

We had another Costume Day with some more lovely visitors on Monday. We were very kindly sent this photo by one family.

Some new outfits, mostly men’s jackets, had their first trip out and we even combined costumes with replica armour which went down a treat with boys aspiring to be knights. There were also a few guys up for a challenge and tried on the two paned trunkhose, one of which comes with a proper codpiece. 

The smallest outfits also got an airing and looked very fetching and sweet on real toddlers rather than the model. 

We’re already looking forward to the next Costume Day at the end of May, and hope to see many more willing victims, sorry, visitors! 

First costume day of 2016

We were lucky that Storm Katie had blown through our area by this morning, and we were only hindered by some showers rather than gale force winds. It brought the crowds in though and lived up to being a usual, busy Easter Monday. 

Several new outfits got a run out today for the first time and looked fabulous. 122 visitors were dressed in four hours and I’m not sure how many more we could’ve dressed in that time and still have been smiling at the end! As it was we took the first opportunity to collapse in a heap when we finished.  

Our new Hayloft collection

The DIY costume collection for the Hayloft is coming on a treat. These are the simplified, easy to put on dresses and doublets which can be worn without having help to dress (compared to those for costume days). All the outfits have been started and some even completed. Thoughts have now turned to cloaks and headwear.