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. 

Tudor Fortnight at Trerice

Our summer costume days are underway, we’ve had a lot of interest from visitors and some good weather has meant we’ve been a little less manic than usual, which is nice.

We’ve finished two more outfits for the schools’ project – an Elizabethan sailor and a mid Tudor loose gown and loose kirtle.


The sailor’s outfit is based (roughly) on one I saw in the Queen’s Gallery in London last year, with a loose tunic top and baggy knee-length hose in linen.


Also completed is an English gable hood to go with one of the early Tudor dresses.


A couple of the schools’ outfits have had a trial run in the last two costume days, which was great. We might be able to test some more in the next few weeks.

The last remaining wooden farthingale has bitten the dust 😦 The hoops had become more gaffer tape than willow, after one-too-many 10 year old sat or stood on it before we could intervene. It is now being remodelled with curtain wire which has proved to be a lot more durable with rough handling so far in our other farthingales. The skirt itself is being altered too; it was based on the Alcega/Janet Arnold pattern with hoops put into tucks of material, so there is now far too much fabric, which will distort the shape with the new wire or be ridiculously huge and awkward to sew.

We’re in the middle of Tudor Fortnight at Trerice at the moment, and the Wardour Garrison are down for the weekend. They’ve set up their tents and have been showing camp life including musket demonstrations and target practise. Hope they haven’t got blown away by the tail end of hurricane Bertha! There’s also two Tudor themed banquets being held this week in the evenings on Wednesday and Saturday. Plus a costume day tomorrow and on Wednesday, hobby horse jousting and various craft activities.

Coming soon…

The summer holidays are approaching, which means more Costume Days. The first is next week, on Monday 29 July.

This year Trerice is having a Tudor Fortnight in the first two weeks of August, starting 2 August, with a variety of 16th century inspired activities. It will include extra opportunities to try on costumes on Wednesdays as well as Mondays during the fortnight (hope we’ll have enough volunteers to help – everyone seems to be going on holiday!)

Among the activities in Tudor Fortnight will be hobby horse jousting, which a couple of us from the group have made, in between costumes for the schools’ project. They’re basically a skirt over a French farthingale, so our Tudor clothes making skills have come in handy! It was a good opportunity to use some of the material we have that isn’t entirely appropriate for our conventional costumes.


Maybe it should be renamed, in Cornish style, as ‘obby ‘oss jousting?


It’s been a while since the last post – quite a lot’s been happening.

The DIY dress up clothes in the Hayloft seem to have gone down well, although whenever I go up there it looks like a tornado’s gone through and totally disorganised.

Before the main season ended at Trerice, we helped with the spooky Trerice by Night for Halloween. Some of the dummies were dressed up in costume and put in dark corners, one was made up as a man in a large black hat echoing a poem written by one of the volunteers which was given to visitors about ghosts around the house. We also made some people for the stocks, one of which was headless with a pool of blood made from red velvet! There was also a Miss Haversham style wedding cake complete with rat and spiders for the Hall table – one volunteer dressed up as Miss Haversham and sat really still for most of the night, only occasionally moving and scaring visitors silly.



This year’s property raffle raised money for costumes for school visits as well as general visits. It was originally thought to do a set of Tudor clothes similar to what’s already been done but based on different roles and professions that might have been connected to an Elizabethan manor. However, the government have kindly changed the history curriculum for 2014 for primary age kids, so the Tudors possibly/probably no longer feature. We’ll have to somehow check what will happen and maybe alter our plans a bit.

In the meantime we’ve started on extra clothes for next spring/summer including an adult cloak in a rusty red, a small boy’s doublet in left over rusty red with yellow slashes and decoration, the old cream and pink gown is in the process of being remodelled because the cream was damaged with age- it is transforming into a goldish colour gown with cream kirtle underneath. There was a rather misshapen wired farthingale used under the old dress, that through some genius thought of one costume member, has been re-stiffened and now looks pretty good and will stand up so much better to mass usage than willow or normal wire – we used curtain wire! We’re taking a step into the 1590s after several requests from younger girls to wear our 10 year olds dress, which is far too big for them, a posh dress for 6-7 year olds is under way complete with French farthingale and a pair of bodies (slight cheating here too, because used cable ties for the boning).


I had a trip to London as well a couple of weeks ago and picked up some ideas which we might be able to use… visited the ‘Elizabeth I and her people’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which was brilliant. There were some flat caps there which were tiny, smaller than I expected, and loads of lovely pictures which I’ve seen several times in costume books. I also stayed for the late night opening entitled ‘Elizabethans undressed’ which was amazing; I took some photos but unfortunately they came out rubbish.

Next costume day is on Saturday

This Saturday is the last costume day of the summer session. It’s been a busy summer with some very busy days, but we’ve had some very good feedback.

Once Saturday is done we’ll be getting on with new projects and clothes for next year – just got to work out what to do! So far there’s been requests for something for a baby to wear and a high status dress for a girl about age 6 years.

Can’t work out if girls that young really wore Spanish farthingales or not, generally the youngest I can find reference to is about age 10 to early teens, but there is a painting of two Spanish princesses of a young age with dresses that look like they might be wearing farthingales (it’s hard to tell if it’s a stiffened petticoat or just volume of petticoats that give it the shape on very small people). There seems to be a lack of full length portraits of girls the right age from the 1560s and 1570s. French farthingales appear to have been worn from a very young age, maybe there’s just more pictorial evidence as the century progressed.