Getting ready for summer 2015

We’ve been a bit quiet on the blog over the last few weeks but we’ve been rather loud and busy in the sewing room!

We’re looking forward to our next costume day for visitors on Monday 27 July.  

We’ve been making new and adapting old clothes for volunteers and staff to wear during our ‘Tudor-tastic’ August (which actually starts in the last week of July!). We have house, garden and shop people eager to join in.


The hobby horse jousting is back again this summer, and have been revamped – ably modelled by our Tudor assistant in the photo.

Some of us have also been learning Tudor dances because we’re having dancing workshops on Wednesdays during August. It’s quite gentle and basic so far, but we haven’t tried it out in Tudor dress yet. We’re not quite ready for galliards and voltas…

We’ve also made a start on a set of outfits for younger school children, about 6 yrs old. The girls are finished, next step is to complete the boys’ schoolboy outfits. 

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.


Doh! New discovery in our old house

A few weeks ago the Great Hall at Trerice, which is only lit by sunlight through the 576 paned window, had just the right sort of light to pick up details in the plasterwork frieze. The frieze is runs around the two-storey room at ceiling height, so it is not often that much attention gets paid to it because it is so high up and the light’s not always very good. There’s been many times when we’ve seen it but not actually looked at it!

Closer inspection of the frieze came about when it was asked why Homer Simpson should be depicted in the plaster… doh! turns out it wasn’t Homer but a lady wearing something like Tudor dress and headwear.

This one’s in the middle of the frieze on the Musicians’ Gallery wall, above the door from the Screens Passage to the Hall.

Most of the figures are completely different, although those in the corners of the room, diagonally facing each other are very similar, but have minor differences. We’re in the process of researching more about them, and whether they are just generic images or have a stronger link to Trerice and the family who lived there. It might be very fanciful, but they could be portraits of the Arundell family…

We’ve been wondering if it’s possible to date the figures from the styles of clothes and hats they’re wearing.

Going clockwise around the room from the lady’s image, at 12 o’clock, the others are:

This one’s in the other corner of that wall next to the window. Originally it was thought that it was a scary looking baby but it seems to have a beard, so could be an old man.

This one’s on the side of the room with the window, opposite the fireplace (at about 4 o’clock). It has some similarities to the brass of Sir John Arundell in armour in Stratton Church.

This one’s diagonally opposite its ‘twin’.

This one’s in the centre of the frieze (at 6 o’clock to the lady’s image).

This one’s diagonally opposite the similar one near the window.

The next two are above the fireplace, opposite the window, which might suggest a place of importance.



The last is back on the first wall at the Musicans’ Gallery end, in the corner.


We’re wondering if it’s possible to date them from their clothes and hairstyles?

Thanks to Emily Hide for the photos.

Killerton excursion and costume detour

Last week we had a lovely sunny day for our visit to Killerton. The 18th century house is set in a lovely garden. The willow deer are a nice touch to show it used to be a deer park. In the house there are several paintings of which we have engravings or prints at Trerice – the Acland family owned both in the 19th century- which added to the homely feel. I think I could have spent hours in the library…



The costume exhibition upstairs was interesting. There were some lovely dresses from the 1920s-1960s, most you could imagine wearing but some of the more modern dresses (from a/w2012) were a little extreme in some cases.

Back at Trerice, we’ve finished the repairs from the summer and started on some new items for next year.

We’ve had quite a few visitors want to see the costumes when we’re not there, so we’ve come up with a plan for a separate collection of clothes (16th and 17th century) which are easy(ish) to try on alone without help and should be able to stand the wear and tear of more constant use. In the past we’ve been given some 17th century style clothes and there were some others found in a cupboard, plus we have some material that is not completely appropriate in pattern or colour, rather than waste them we will do the common Tudor/Elizabethan practice and mend, recycle and reuse.


Birds and more

We’ve created some birds for a new kids trail around Trerice, from left over scraps of black material used for clothes (Tudors called the scraps cabbage). They’re supposed to be swallows, based on the Arundell coat of arms, but it proved a bit tricky to put the detail onto so we simplified them. The swallows were originally intended for the flag making we did recently, but realising the Arundell badge should be white or silver swallows on black not the other way around (of course this happened after cutting out 12 birds in black!) I had to start again. Luckily it was then suggested we create something to replace the Trusty the Hedgehog trail around the house, so the youngest visitors to the house will have something new to look for – the black birds will not be wasted. We now have a flock of 24 and some wit did mention a pie!

Been experimenting, after the trip to London, with some craft foam. Thought it might be a neat idea to make some ruffs and hats that could be tried on in the Hayloft when we don’t have the costumes out. Being made of foam, although not Tudor, it won’t matter so much if they get damaged or go missing.


We have another adult doublet finished, and an Elizabethan bonnet. Both are looking splendid.



Also been experimenting with an academic square cap made from felt with a biggin underneath to get the ear flaps, rather than making it an all-in-one hat (which at the moment is beyond me).

Almost finished an outfit for our lace-making volunteer, though she hasn’t seen it yet and still needs to be hemmed.


Ghostly Arundell sightings on Halloween

To get into the spirit of Halloween, with the autumnal decoration in the hall and guess the weight of the pumpkin, we cheekily added a few headless figures of our own to add a bit of spookiness to the gloomy day. Sir John Arundell was sighted in the Great Chamber in a state of undress, a nameless gent was seen in the alcove of the Long Gallery, Katherine Cosworth was seen disappearing upstairs and Mary Arundell was lurking in the Court Chamber.




Not sure if they took anyone by surprise, but it was their last outing before being packed away in boxes for the winter!

A busy summer ahead – Manic Mondays?!

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks getting ready for the costume days at the end of July and on every Monday in August. There’s still a few weeks to go, so hopefully it will all be finished in time. It could be rather busy during the summer holidays.

Among the various items on the go at the moment, the second loose gown is coming along nicely. We are now working out how to create embellishments similar to our source image on the Arundell brasses. It seems to involve plaiting an awful lot of cream wool to make 15 metres of braid and it is being attempted in one go and not in several pieces joined together!

Also having a go at revamping and updating our display boards, with timelines, pictures of clothes worn and info on the people in the brasses, as well as a few other items. So watch this space for the outcome!


A Very Successful Day

It takes two!

Yes, I finished the doublet and it fits and our volunteer said he enjoyed wearing his tudor clothes. So that’s most of the volunteers dressed to match the house (Trerice), now for our guests. Despite the warm weather we dressed whole families from shift to hat and splendid fun was had by all.We are thinking of collecting props for people to hold while posing for photographs in our lovely frame. Fans and gloves or baskets and brooms possibly for the lower sort.

News from the last two weeks

The new costumes for volunteers are coming together. Our small band of volunteers have been doing stirling work. Two shirts have almost been completed, and another started, possibly with blackwork embroidery. The red doublet is nearing completion, with mainly the buttons still to sort out. The loose kirtle is also getting there, just doing the lacing holes before hemming the bottom; work has also started on the loose gown to go with it.

We’ve cut out a pair of mock up hose for our willing volunteer from an old bed sheet to see if the fit will be ok – waiting to hear the outcome of the fitting on Saturday. Likewise another kirtle was awaiting a fitting on Sunday before being completed with lacing holes and a finished hem. Hopefully they will both be ok.

Haven’t forgotten the visitors’ clothes either and a loose gown and kirtle have been started similar to the one for the volunteer. Cutting out the kirtle was quite tricky, and might be a bit more time consuming to assemble because it is from an old curtain and the back pieces have been pieced together from the remaining scraps after the front was cut out tidily in one piece. The design is based on the brasses of Juliana Erisey and Mary Bevill, so we’ll have to work out the embellishments and decorative bits in the near future.

There’s also another ruff under way and I don’t think I’ve seen so many pins in one garment! (mapping out the folds and joins to the neck band)

Things we have discovered…

1. that no matter how much you take measurements and have practise runs something is likely to go wrong! The tomato red doublet has caused some grief revealing itself to be too big in the shoulders and not big enough around the neck when the original pattern was fine. A blue kirtle, modelled on a bodice, tried and tested, turned out to be 4 inches too big in the top, thought it might have been a big task to alter it, with the boning etc but not too bad in the end.

2. hemming is no fun! It has taken the best part of a day to pin up the hem of the loose gown and kirtle – one has either been too short, too long or wonky. Just when it seems to be ok, it actually turns out to be lopsided! Fingers crossed that they are ok now