Since last writing something all the way back in August we’ve had some busy Costume Days, preparing for Halloween, the Christmas craft fair and even having a few days of holiday and life in the real world!
Halloween was rather crazy and very very busy. The plague came again to Trerice but this time it opened a portal to the Underworld and unleashed characters from Cornish folklore. There were lots of screams heard in the house, so goal achieved! There were about 400 people through in the first hour which must be a record for the place – I’ve never seen such queues! Thanks for everyone’s patience.
Halloween took place on the last weekend of the season, and we’ve now moved to winter opening at weekends only. As part of this a craft fair with items made by volunteers and staff at Trerice has been organised in November. In anticipation of this we started making dolls, generally inspired by our Tudor costumes, and made from the bags and bags of scrap material left over from making full-size outfits.
In addition to that we’ve made Tudor hats – Henry VII and Henry VIII styles – as well as French hoods, and Christmas decorations from used cotton reels (we’ve got through a lot this year!), ribbon and beads.
Next up is helping with decorations and things for Christmas needed for the first weekend in December. Then there’s always the ‘big list’ of items for next year to be going on with.
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.
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.
Today a group of us spent the morning setting up things to make the house spooky for the last evening opening. It included placing various bodies and body parts around the place and jelly and blancmange.
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.