The Brontes then and Now,extracts from a “Symposium of Articles”

Source: The Brontes then and Now,extracts from a “Symposium of Articles”


More of the contributions from my old Brontes society booklet ,I am trying to get these finished as I wanted to donate the book to the parsonage I think it would be useful either for their archive or for the second second section in their shop

This is from the Russian Prince D S Mirsky and is from Leeds and a 1923 meeting of the Bronte Society

He gives his impression of how the Brontes appear to what he calls “foreigners” ,primairly he focuses on Emily

He became acquainted with their work late in life as apparently their Governess  thought badly of their works (incredibly she was an English woman from Bingley)

Here are brief extracts which give the overall tenor of the article

“Jane Eyre I came upon in the winter of 1917 to 1918 in the Turkish town of Erzerum.It was a terrible time the Russian front had already collapsed,and we the remainder of the Russian army in Armenia where waiting for the inevitable end,,,,

There I first found Jane Eyre ,I remember the intense thrill of  the first reading and still marvel at the red hot fire of emotion that seems to burn in its flames all the numerous inconsistencies and absurdities of the narrative .”

“Wuthering Heights I read in Athens ,I had it lent to me along with “The mysteries of Udolpho  “The lady who lent me the two books said “If you like sensational blood and thunder stories here you have them”

The Prince disagreed that the writers are in any way similar and goes on to consider the locations in which he read the novels  and makes the now well known links between Heathcliff  specifically and more general the rest of  Wuthering Heights with Emilys poetry before continuing,,,


“I do not hesitate to place both sisters among the foremost writers  of the world ,but of the two which is more likely to last .,,

“The homely sincere humanity of Charlotte or the  unearthly splendor  of Emily .Emily is certainly less bound to her time and if Charlottes was the more immediate success ,Emily seems now to have gained the upper hand  .She is well worth it ,well worth the greatest fame in the world.,,,,

“Wuthering heights is a well regulated and ordered universe ,obedient to the laws of its creator,a terrible universe ,,,that reminds one of the Mancunian legend that the devil created the world.”

Of all human vices ,,,Vanity is most common ,of this vice Emily was entirely exempt ,the opposite vice pride ,is one she had in profusion ..From whatever side we approach her she seems more inhuman and more like the hero of Miltons poem.

Only one point in her seems human ,her relation to her sister Anne,the only creature she seems to have loved .

It has  often been said that Wuthering Heights is a direct  product of the West Riding  ,that detached from its soil it becomes unintelligible, ,,

I think this view is exaggerated ,I cannot accept that Wuthering Heights   is a true depiction of the west riding ,or that the West Yorkshire is all  inhabited by Heathcliffs and Catherine Lintons.

Emilys novel is essentially outside time and space   ,and if it is nondetachable from the West riding ,then the West Riding itself must be outside time and space.




A brief introduction to Prince Mirsky ,I dont normally recomend Wikipedia but in this instance its accurate and concise

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A no or low sew cheats guide to making a Victorian outfit or gown


My final cheats no or low sew guide to cover Victorian era costumes,this doesnt as yet have any step by step guides ,I will add these as I go along but I am still working on my outfits,this is more a guide to help anyone shopping for an entirely  none sew outfit ,though it includes ideas for adding detailing.

I have added substantialy to this post as I managed to source more and more modern fabrics and garments suitable for reuse ,so its not quite as organised as I eventualy intend it ,but as its now well into the time when people are preparing for events I thought I will publish it now and tidy it a bit later.

A Victorian outfit is easier to create from a vintage victorian looking  blouse ,waistcoat or jacket and skirt combination than making a gown .These can look very effective and accurate ,with the right under layers and accessories


This is a Laura Ashley jacket ,a skirt which I made but full skirts can be bought cheaply or cut from Ballgowns or prom or bridal gowns ,make sure you cut enough of the bodice of the gown to make the skirt wearable .

Skirts such as this in assorted colours can be bought for around £30 new

30 skirt5

For a steampunk look try to find a waistcoat to wear with a strippy skirt.

If you wanted to try making a skirt the main thing you need to avoid is doing any hemming as this is the main amount of sewing needed .This skirt was made from silk fabric which already had a edge suitable to leave by itself instead of adding a hem so it just needed gathering at the waist and then tacking onto a piece of ribbon instead of a proper waistband ,to make ties either add more ribbon ,or velcro and make sure the back of the skirt is full enough to cover any gap



A  day dress is harder and will need some sewing however small but ballgowns are not particularly hard if you can fine a full skirts strappy or sleeveless gown  you just need to sew lace around the collar and add some Victorian accessories long gloves fans etc


For a fancy dress party you could just wear a bodice top ,evening or prom bodice and very full skirt over a hoop or net petticoat.To make it more authentic looking add lace around the collar and try to find a skirt and bodice thats the same colour.Again plain skirts are cheap to buy on ebay and elsewhere

images (3)

tw tone

I found the following on ebay though I have never used any of the sellers and cant be sure of the quality they are useful starting points and give an idea of what is available.

tulle bustle skirt.jpg

Per Una skirts are often very useful for either a bottom skirt for under a bustle outfit or as part of a layered outfit

Another useful item sometimes avaible and often very cheaply is a train from a wedding gown ,many gowns have detachable trains which can be taken off after the ceremony so the dress is easier to move around in ,used with panels or lace or fabric they make excellent bustles ,some have loops to enable them to be bustled up but even those without can be used to create a back bustle by just using safety pins ,if you avoid white or viory or plae colours for the rest of the outfit it wont look as though you have raided a bridal store for an outfit.




While bought contemport skirts are not suitable to form the main part of an outfit they can contribute and under layer or tier of a late Victorian bustle gown or walking outfit.

A strapless wedding dress with an interesting bustled skirt can be adjusted with a darker colour layer to form an outfit ,using dark blue or black or red with another colour or darker trims added .the trick with using wedding ,prom or bridesmaids dresses is to cover as much as possible of the bodice which is normaly what gives away the gown and add to or partly cover the skirt,adding blue or black trims around the skirt base a panel of black lace down the bodice front ect

bustle g.jpg

back bus.jpg

It would be too hard to transform the dress above into something similar to the ones below if you added waistcoats or jackets or trims or a velvet skirt or bodice etc cut and draped with the gown

red wh

You could add black or dark trims as for the earlier gown below

blakc th wht


wht sk.jpg

Or a hooped skirt bridal gown could have darker lace sewn onto it which would take a very few stitches which could be done by any one a friend of helpful child ,the gown below is printed but it would be easy to achieve something similar with wide lace.

blu lac

blue lace


A wide range of amazing lace fabrics with attached roses, flowers, bows ,beadedwork or embriodery are avaible most very cheaply the fabric below from china is £12.99

It would need using carefuly as its probably not of a hugely high quality but as bustling or a lower part of a skirt etc would be perfect.In general fabrics,trims and lace listed as bridal quailty will be much better than others

rose trim

this could be used to create a skirt like the one in this bustle gown ,though in the original the fabric is patterned.Its would be best sewn onto the skirt front but a draped effect with the fabric could be achieved with just safety pins an a very wide panel pinned either side of the dress and covered with the outer fabric from the bustling mworn like a kind of wide long apron

rose gown

for the remaining trims on the gown you could use the gold lace below if you have someone to sew for you ,or just drape it in with other fabric .l

gold lace.jpg

These give a wide rang of options and its possible to sometimes find skirts ,jackets, bodices etc of lace you can cut and tack  or even pin,possibly  glue onto a gown so avoiding even less sewing .The gown below is probably not actually lace and satin but sating with a lace “apron ” or over skirt tied round it ,a modern or vintage lace skirt could be cut in half an used which would need no sewing or if you wanted you could sew on two pretty ribbons as ties .Its quite cheap and easy to buy little black neckline fillers variously listed as shrugs,collars capes etc for the top





To add more interest an assortment of pleated ,ruches and gathered fabrics can be bought cheaply to drape ,pin or tack onto a vintage modern gown ,jacket or skirt,or to use to make sleeves for a ball gown and a matching front panel on the bodice


You could buy a length of this fabric fold it into a lop and safety pin it to a gown for a bustle detail ,or cut a piece and glue or tack or safety pin it under a waist coat or jacket to add some extra detailing  at the neck or cut down the front of a bodice and inset a piece then add a piece at the cuffs ,neither would take much stitching ,it may be possible to glue it ,a lot of fabrics can be glued but I have never tried.

ruff fron

ruf cuf.jpg

ruff lace

This purple could be used to recreate a simialr effect to the antique gown below


black ruf lace

Black is usually easier to match to a black bodice ,fabric ,jacket etc or a good colour for contrast.

bl kwh

Most of these would be evening gowns or for indoor events as the ruffled lace and fabrics are not very good if they get very wet  and are comparativly vulnerable to getting torn ,they are also not very warm.

To make a day dress  you could try to find a ready made gown with the right shape top ,full sleeved vintage velvet gowns are best,then use this as a base ,a bodice and apron front for example for a bustle gown,both of the gowns below where made using fabric but could be replicated using a dress over a simple bought skirt,a bridesmaid ,evening or prom skirt would work well ,the skirt below was made by the simple gather onto a peice of fabric method and was also fabric which didnt need a hem


red dsress.jpg

A dress such as this could be cut away at the front  if you can do a fair bit of basic sewing or have some to do it for you ,it only needs a very basic running stitch.

bustle jacket

or draped to create a bustle apron effect.,many bustle gowns had two or more colours ,the skirt being a different colour to the jackets or bodice and front drapery

2 col


You could also use a dress over a fuller skirt as a earlier Victorian style outfit,though the outfit below is 18thc it would only need a round hoop and some lace trim to make it look Victorian ,many 18c gowns ,bodices ,jackets etc were adapted to make Victorian gowns as fabric was expensive.Bustle gowns especially were made from recycled polonaise gowns from 18thc



Other options

If you cant find a gown,jacket etc with the right kind of sleeves or want to create a better effect than just a plain sleeve.You could add a lace trim

cuffs blog jacket.jpg

Or  try a variety of things with the sleeves .Many Victorian gowns had removable sleeves so they could be used for evening or day wear , so fashion with trims  at variouse points along the length of the sleeve developed to hide the places they were attached.You could consider buying a second jacket etc and cutting off pieces of sleeve to add to the main one,this needs some stitching but could be done quickly and by anyone you might be able to find to help even a child These sometimes had extra pelerines or wide collars to add to the dresses uses.




Photos from

for late victorian styles you could buy a goth collar  in a matching colour mostly this would mean finding a black bodice /jacket /gown ,though you can soemtimes get red,green or purple these would be harder to get a colour match for.


If you had a plain self coloured bodice of black  velvet silk etc finding a little cape and extra items such as collars etc is fairly easy .This is a very beaded evening style cape suitable for later gowns .



Though you dont need to create a gown as elaborate,knowing the shapes of sleeves ,bodices skirts etc is very useful as it often shows ways around the limitations of a bought item ,for example adding panels or extra length of sleeve.


A fashion for wide sleeves that ended at elbow level then had a separate pair of white under sleeves beneath them is a very handy style to try to recreate ,you could cut along a jacket with wide sleeves and then cut off the sleeves of a wide sleeved blouse to use under it.this not only provides a way to use a jacket which may not have long sleeves or may not look perfect as it is .Using the cut off sleeves of a white blouse is a very handy way to add authenticity to an outfit .

A  modern but Victorian looking blouse can have a surprising number of uses .

Alone with a wide belt ,a mans leather belt is a good option but a wide sash of fabric will work though is harder to keep in place.There was a fashion for Garibaldi blouses which is very easy to recreate with a wide enough skirt .


Over this often went a bolero style jacket ,equally easy to find ,just add some trim if you can do a small amount of stitching to make it look even more accurate.



You could layer this with a waistcoat and have the upper part of a victorian day outfit ,you then only need to find or buy a wide skirt or you can make one using the cheats guide to making a victorian outfit and ask a friend to stitch along the edges and gather it onto a peice of ribbon or tape,if you cut the hemline with pinking shears you can avoid hems which are the most time consuming part of making a skirt and the bit hardest to do if you have to limit sewing time.You can also use curtains or similar already hemmed fabrics


Looking for gowns or outfits that have more than one colour or fabric is a very good way to work out how to make a gown or outfit from an assrtoment of vintage or modern items .You could make the outfit below with a gathered up summer dress,bought evening skirt and a blouse .

If you can hold a needle briefly small bits of antique gathered lace can easily be found to make cuffs  because people tend to want  longer lengths and these could be easily tacked on by anyone in a few minutes, perhaps a friend or a child or grandchild ,it may be possible to glue them on but I have never tried.Likewise you cut cout off the sleeves of one thing and insert them into the sleeves of another ,or add panels




Lace is an excellent option for creating an evening gown either bustle or wide hooped skirt,lace can often be bought with scalloped or embroidered edges and needs no sewing at all to bustle just pull it up where you want it at the sides or back and fasten it with a safety pin,use two contrasting colours of lace to create a more elaborate bustle ,or layer lace over a plain hoop skirt,this will take soem but not much stitching as it will need tacking onto the skirts waist band or the bottom of a bodice


ba cg

Dont feel that if your unable to sew elaborate trimming is out there is a wide assortment of edged lace,pleated or gathered lace and pleated or gathered trims,ribbon roses etc,most if bought from China costs between £1 and £3 a metre most being the lower end of that price,mixing two different or contrasting colours is another interesting option or graduated colours of lace one other the other


The trim below came double pleated and I just added the rose,you can also buy ribbons and trims that already have lace sewn on.

lace vel





Another useful search for auction sites is to try typing in goth ,steampunk a lot of very useful accessories or detailing can be found such as these collars which would go under a jacket of dress

st col

I thought a few  further images would be helpful and I also include links to museum collections to search ,if you are familar with what is needed its much easier to find things to create the effect,shape and fabric is much more important than details or buttons etc.

The main collections in Museums are in the V and A ,the Met and the Kyoto institute ,with the museum at Bath also having a few interesting items.

A google search of costume dramas is also very helpful as these are often very accurate ,but also show what people expect a certain costume to look like,watching clips will give you a view in 3d of outfits



bustle jacket

two colour ballfgown cg

red jacket


aa1839449f106b3c79a2cea5568d08bc--female-clothing-metropolitan-museumblue j


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The Brontes then and Now,extracts from a “Symposium of Articles” and introduction

I stumbled on one of those gems of Ebay ,a little obscure booklet,these often go for pennies and offer the possibilities of hidden treasure .This has certainly been the case with this booklet .”The Brontes then and now ” was published by the Bronte Society  in 1947  and printed in Shipley by Outhewaite Bros Caxton Press .

Its has a introduction that reminds one of the austerity of post war Britain .It was published to commemorate the centenary of the publication of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (Its doesnt mention Agnes Grey)It consists of articles from assorted editions of the Bronte Society transactions from the previous decades ,but laments

“Owing to difficulties created by the scarcity of paper ,the volume is not as large as the society would liked to have published on so memorable an occasion”

Its aim was to collate “The best essays to show how the Brontes are regarded today” (though that is  not strictly true one article dates from the early 1920s ,)in general it is a accurate description of the essays and articles.

.I will reproduce long extracts from several articles over the next week or two as they almost all contain interesting little long lost views and ideas ,the writers rang from the Rev  J C Hirst the Vicar of Haworth ,Fanny Ratchford and  a Russian Prince ,Prince D S Mirskey who writes about reading Jane Eyre in 1917 /1918 in Erzerum  ( see footnote ),while in the Russian army at “a terrible time ,the Russian Front had already collapsed and we the remainder of the Russian army were awaiting the inevitable end ”

(I can only find a photo of the prince from the book cover above,he went back to Russia and died in a Gulag

There is a short article reproducing the causes of death of all the Brontes,those of Branwell ,Charlotte Emily ,Ann and Rev Bronte have the causes of death verbatim from the death certificates .”direct evidence from the registers office at Keighley” While another short article  relates details of their burial sites.This was written by the then  vicar of Haworth  J C Hirst (In his last year as vicar ,having seen Haworth through the seond world war)He was thr last Vicar of Haworth to live in the Bronte Parsonage prior to its becoming a Museum.

The photo below is slightly earlier and from the excellent site ,this site also contains invaluable primary sources .


Other articles comment on the views of people locally about the Brontes,which echoed the impressions I have gained from talking locally to those who had passed down family memories of the sisters

“I met with with more than one Lady who had known the Brontes  and ,,spoke with undisguised contempt,I was assured that they were “Not ladies and that they were not even succesful as governesses “( the writer used the quotes from a book “The Memories of Sir Weymuss Reid ).

Sir Weymuss was at one point editor of the Leeds Mercury ,he began working for the paper in 1870 and was there for  around 16 years giving him ample time to gain local knowledge from those who knew  of or had met the Brontes of the Brontes .

Hes quotes several parts of the book with regard to local feeling at the time of the Brontes and shortly after .

Other hidden gems include some quotes from famous authors ,including the comment that Thomas Hardy wouldnt read Wuthering Heights because he had heard it was depressing ,which coming from the Author of Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D urbevilles is a bit rich.

The Battle of Erzurum

“At the end of the offensive in the storming of the city of Erzurum itself, the Russians captured some 9 standards, 5,000 prisoners and 327 guns. The Ottomans lost about 10,000 men killed and wounded, as well as 5,000 prisoners.[2] The Russians lost 1,000 killed, 4,000 wounded and 4,000 became affected with frostbite.[ , The full text can be found here

He seems to have relied heavily on Elizabeth Gaskel and repeats the slanders on Patricks character long since known and proven to be untrue ,he may be one of the sources used by early biographers

“Only those who dwelt under the
same roof knew him as he really was. Among the
many stories told of him by his children, there is one
relating to the meek and gentle woman who was his
wife, and whose lot it was to submit to persistent
coldness and neglect. Somebody had given Mrs.
Bronte a very pretty dress, and her husband, who
was as proud as he was self-willed, had taken offence
at the gift. A word to his wife, who lived in habitual
dread of her lordly master, would have secured all
he wanted ; but in his passionate determination that
she should not wear the obnoxious garment,

he deliberately cut it to pieces, and presented her with
the tattered fragments.

On the other hand he is elsewhere very critical of Gaskel

“Unhappily, first
impressions are always strongest, and running through
the whole of Mrs. Gaskell’s story, may be seen the
impression produced at her first meeting with Char-
lotte Bronte by her nervous shrinking and awkward-
ness in the midst of unknown faces.

It was not thus with those who, brought into the
closest of all fellowship with her, the fellowship of
school society, knew the secrets of her heart far better
than did any who became acquainted with her in after
life. To such the real Charlotte Bronte, who knew
no timidity in their presence, was a bold, clever, out-
spoken and impulsive girl ; ready to laugh with the
merriest, and not even indisposed to join in practical
jokes with the rest of her schoolfellows. The picture
we get in the ” Life” is that of a victim to secret terrors
and superstitious fancies. The real Charlotte Bronte,
when stories were current as to the presence of a
ghost in the upper chambers of the old school-house
at Roehead, did not hesitate to go up to these rooms



alone and in the darkness of a winter’s night, leaving
her companions shivering in terror round the fire

He also relates local people where by far fondest of Branwell

“and any one
who cares to go to Haworth now and inquire into the
story of the Brontes, will find that the most vivid
reminiscences, the fondest memories of the older
people in the village, centre in this hapless youth.

” Before me lie the few letters which remain of
Emily and Anne. There is little in them worth
preserving. Both make reference to the fact that
Charlotte is the great correspondent of the family,
and that their brief and uninteresting epistles can
have no charm for one who is constantly receiving
letters from her.

In Yorkshire, indeed, the stolid people
of the West Riding were not greatly moved by this
enthusiasm. Just as Charlotte herself had seemed an
ordinary and rather obscure person to her Yorkshire
friends, so Haworth was still regarded as being a very
dull and dreary village by those who lived near it


I stepped for a
moment into the kitchen, where the landlord and
landlady were having a comfortable chat over pipes
and ale, with a companionable rustic of the place,
who proved to be a nephew of the old servant Tabby,
who lived so long, and at last died in the service of
the Bronte family. I joined the circle, and sat there
till long after midnight. Branwell was clearly the
hero of the village worship. A little red-headed
fellow, the landlord said, quick, bright, abounding in
stories, in jokes, and in pleasant talk of every kind ;




he was a general favourite in town, and the special
wonder of the Black Bull circles. Small as he was,
it was impossible to frighten him. They had seen
him volunteer during a mill-riot to go in and thrash a
dozen fellows, any one of whom could have put him
in his pocket and carried him off at a minute’s notice.
Indeed a characteristic of the whole family seems to
have been an entire insensibility to danger and to
fear. Emily and Charlotte, these people told me,
were one day walking through the street, when their
great dog, Keeper, engaged in a fight with another
dog of equal size. Whilst everybody else stood aloof
and shouted, these girls went in, caught Keeper by
the neck, and by dint of tugging, and beating him
over the head, succeeded in dragging him away.” I
extract this passage because of the confirmation
which it gives, on the authority of one who made
his inquiries very soon after the death of Charlotte
Bronte, of the account of some of the family charac-
teristics which appear in these pages ; n

Of Charlotte he  writes

Do not underrate her oddity,” said a gifted
friend who knew her during her heyday of fame,
while these pages were being written. Her oddity, it
must be owned, was extreme — so far as the world
could judge.

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A new kind of cheats guide for those unable to sew or wear accurately constructed costumes ,the low sew no sew cheats guides

As many of my blog followers know for several years now I have been more and more restricted by arthritis in my hands ,its nolonger possible for me to either make or in many cases wear historically  accurate costumes.But there are options especially with Victorian outfits ,the outfit below is  with the exception of the bonnet perfectly achievable without sewing and bonnets are not too expensive to buy ready made .

As I can now nolonger make costumes or do any extensive sewing or use my hands for too long, I thought a no or low sewing time cheats guide might be useful for anyone in a similar situation or who doesnt have time to sew for too long.Unlike most of my cheats guides the focus here is on cutting down sewing and trying to make the remaining sewing simple enough to be “contracted out ” perhaps to either helpful friends or children /grandchildren for making their own items or to a professional seamstress ,if using a professional then the amount of sewing needs limiting to lower their fees.The low or no sew cheats guides will sometimes be more expensive than the usual cheats guides because more needs to be bought .however this isnt always the case.They are more likely to be less accurate as clearly they relay heavily on already made items .But this is also not necessarily the case.Well chosen accessories such as bonnets and shawls can make a huge impact

They may also be useful to those making theatre costumes as they are also designed to be easier to get on and off.I no longer find it certain I will be able to tie small ribbons,fasten hooks and eyes  or fasten small buttons. I also no longer have anyone to lace me in and out of things so these are again issues considered in these guides.
I have tried to create as accurate as possible an impression ,but also to give an overall effect that will hopefully draw attention away from inaccuracies .Though for some occasions its perhaps unnecessary to have perfect accuracy such as  Victorian themed evenings or days .This is a bought velvet bodice worn with a huge tulle (bridal style net ) petticoat and a very full skirt ,the silk was nicely edged so didnt need hemming and wide full skirts can be fairly cheaply bought ,it would be a reasonably passable  Victorian ball gown for fancy dress events especially with a antique shawl or fan and more accurate jewelry .If you can find a bodice and skirt the same colour even better for accuracy and adding lace around the neck will give you a perfectly accurate gown

though the skirts more elaborate this is essentially a simple bodice and big skirt with a wide lace collar.Even  gown s with different coloured bodices and skirts were not unknown

A day outfit can be made using a similar skirt ,bought vintage waistcoat and vintage blouse ,this is essentialy not much different to some Victorian ladies “outdoor or sporting wear”

though long sleeved in esssence these are not dissimilar to the outfit above and identical to the one at the top of the post/
I will add links in the following months to the following cheats guides
Cheats guide to underlayers,petticoats ,hooped petticoats ,chemises ,etc

floral corset

these will be mostly focused on victorian era petticoats but are also appropriate for regency and Georgian /collonial /18thc .
rose sacqe back
cheats guide to accessories will include

Bonnets,hats,mittens,muffs ,collars and corset covers ,chemisettes .Also again suitable for Victorian and late 18th early 19thc c .Some extant work bonnets still exist and can be bought cheaply and will be suitable for a range of eras though primarily Victorian
vict bonnet.jpg
Cheats guide to Tudor ,Stuart,Elizabethan petticoats, gowns and layers,its harder to make an accurate gown but not impossible to create something similar to the gown below .


An Elizabethan outfit with a waistcoat is also achievable though you will need to buy the under layer and ruff

flora pet red ruff st

Cheats guide to outerlayers.
Cloaks ,jackets,mantles ,capes,spencers ,etc
red specner breeze
Victorian style jackets,simple cloaks and capes which can be adapted to most eras,the easiers form of spencer or cropped regency jacket,the simplest mantles and medieval overgowns.
Cheats guide to headresses
Tudor and medieval
Cheats guide to a faux victorian dress or outfit
cheats guide to a medieval outfit

Non sew options .
While most of these cheats require a little but not much sewing ,but some costumes from all eras can be created with none.
If your lucky enough to have some spare cash and be very petite,There are wearable fairly reasonably priced victorian outfits including gowns still surviving .These wont stand up to heavy use but could usually be worn for brief periods of time with care,usually just indoors ,you can then if they are undamaged possibly resell them after suitable cleaning for perhaps almost the same amount .I have made profits on victorian capes and mantles bought cheaply ,worn for a season then resold .

.Look for items that are mislabled when listed or described as needing TLC or cleaning .Most of mine where musty smelling or had moth holes .where faded or damaged trims or linings but this wasnt obviouse when they were being worn .The cape below was approx £30 and badly faded when opened flat with a few moth holes near the hemline but none of that showed when it was being worn .
Parasols that are not usable open are often very pretty looking closed often  sell very cheaply indeed ,Fans are easy to find listed cheaply and help make an outfit look authentic.The fan below is Charlotte Brontes but similar fans sell on ebay for under £50 and are extremely collectable so easy to resell

There are often capes and short cloaks availble .The cloak below is a vintage 1980s cloak but looks amazingly accurate,clerical capes and cloaks are a possibility also

Bag or reticules ,petticoats ,bloomers, chemises and chemisttes ,collars and mittens for sale very cheaply on ebay or etsy but only in petite sizes ,usually under sz 8 ,though I have bough wearable petticoats for myself and I am a uk sz 12/14 ,remember to measure your waist etc once you have your corset on as this reduces your waist several inseven when worn fairly loosely laced.
You can also buy commercialy bought petticoats ,chemise blouses and underskirts.I bought a chemise blouse for £6 from china and bought all my hooped petticoats the same way .Chemise blouses are often listed as gypsy or peasant blouses
show china chemise
Its impossible to find earlier gowns that mid victorian that could be worn ,but its often not impossible to find re enactors selling off their old costumes if you have long enough advance warning and time to spare ,these dont come up very often,I sold my own maybe once or twice a year but when they are availble there is often a full outfit for sale .I sold all of those below for well under £100 ,most for between £30 and £50
hunter green bustle dress

1830s bronte gown

18thc brown dress
I sold most of mine in January as I used the proceeds to buy new fabrics and trims to make my new years outfits.I occasionaly sold some on the run up to Christmas as that and New year is often when Victorian or Tudor events take place or when people need fancy dress outfits for parties.
American ebay sites are usually more productive of second hand re enactment outfits than UK sites .
There are also sites that sell off old movies costumes for varying prices often these are from extras ,I have seen costumes from “The other bolyen girl sold for under £100 though costumes usually start at several hundred ,they can always then be resold .
Lastly theres the pre made costumes,these can be excellent but extreemly expensive ,they will be made to your exact specifications ,but with underlayers etc added to the total can be prohibitive,making your own under ayers or cheats versions radically cut down costs but need to be already made before ordering your gown .Cheaper premade outfits from China can be bought these dont usually look perfectly accurate but would be fine for medival faires banquets etc and again can be resold to recoup some of their costs.You might possibly recoup your entire gown and headress cost if you could sell your cheats guide underlayers with them .

Shoes ,its quite easy to find shoes to match most eras gowns as long as they are not going to be the focus of too much attention,Satin ballet pumps are alomsot identical to indorr early victorian and romatic era or regency shoes.Theres pretty sude ankle boots that pass easily for regency and victorian half boots,heeled lace up mid calf boots to pass for later victorian shoes,any flat shoes with a bar fastening will be suitable for outdoor Tudor shoes ,satin bridal or Asian shoes for late Tudor ,Elizabethan ,Stuart and Georgian shoes.
Medieval shoes are harder but passable shoes can be found .
The easiest way to make a victorian ,Regency or Georgian outfit look authentic is the correct shawl and bonnet .

Very attractive authentic victorian shawls can be bought and the same versions bought as vintage items from Asian ebay sellers ,Regency and early victorian shawls were usually Dupattas or occasionaly part saris ,Asian stores also often sell very good quality Paisly shawls.

Bonnet bases can be bough fairly cheaply mostly from US or European suppliers but some from UK suppliers,If buying from overseas and you can group together with some one ese the costs are much cheaper as postage can be shared .There is usually more choice of styles from overseas .Decorating bonnet bases to create a bonnet reflecting your own style and tastes and to match your outfit is very easy and quick .

It can be done without sewing anything but the ties on, but even with the odd bit of stitching only needs a few minutes of sewing to fasten on ribbons or trims with big stitches and a big needle.

Some sellers sell hat bases ,most seller Bereger hats in assorted sizes,from the “scarlet o Hara ” wide hat to small hats suitable for later Victorian wear as well as Regency wear .Modern fastenator bases as long as they are black ,brown ,cream or plain straw are also usuable .Women wore riding hats very similar to mens top hats and a small size top hat with a wide long chiffon scarf tied around its band could be used.


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How to put victorian or replica victorian clothing on

corset sign

Just a very quick post on dressing in period costume as WGW is coming up and Haworths going steam punk in Nov

The most important thing is highlighted in the Goth day public service announcement

First some donts

If your wearing a steel boned or steel busk corset ,put  your stockings and shoes on first

Dont wear tights unless your not going to need the loo while in costume.

Next the layers

1 /chemise layer  ,this goes under your corset to stop the corset rubbing idealy a long chemise or camisole top and petticoat ,or you can use almost anything else a thin strappy long vest top ,a cotton strappy hippy top, a strappy nightdress



edwardian lace petticoat

2/ Corset layer

The corset now goes on any structural undergarments ,hoop ,bustle ,bustle cushion ,


Petticoats layer ,.

either one petticoat over the structural underlayers or one to add fullness to the skirts .I usually wear  at least one basic one and one decorated one with a taffeta or lace trimmed hemlines or a trained  petticoat with bustle gowns

For 1830s/40s you will need several petticoats but they dont need to be decorated.They can add a lot of weight however ,I found that I average between 1 and 2 stones of  outfit


Dress and extras layer

Put on your dress, add lace collar and cuffs or pelerine or  ribbon and lace collar etc ,this is what makes the gown look correct.

Avoid any jewelry with sparkly stones unless you playing someone very rich ,paste jewels were considered tacky by the middle classes ,black jet look-alike jewelry ,bone looking plastic, mother or pearl ,small pearl brooches or portrait miniatures work well

essential accessories

Fan ,,it’s no fun at all in hot weather or hot rooms wearing Victorian costume unless you have a fan to help you keep cool

Little bag/reticule /pocket

Its essential asd you wont have pockets or a modern handbag  to have somewhere to put change ,hankies ,phones fans

desirable Extras


Mittens or gloves

No lady would go out without gloves or possibly mittens and most wore mittens in the house and evening /opera  gloves which reached upper arm  or night time events or dinner (see above)


No lady would leave the house without a bonnet or hat

bonnet side view

Married ladies would wear a cap or some token piece of lacetrimed ribbon in the house in the early years of the reign

Shawl /cloak

Again no lady would leave the house without them and a shawl is handy if your moving around in drafty places in a wide shouldered dress

Parasol /Brolly

This is a pleasant extra as in hot weather it does stop you feeling too hot and in rain it reduces the amount of extra weight your likely to be a carrying from rain-soaked clothing any outfit will have around 10 metres of fabric and many up to metres so thats a lot of fabric to get wet

Vintage handkerchief

Faux vintage pocket watch.




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The Early Tudor white band unimportant mystery or the key to Tudor gown construction?

As I have been working my way through the Tudor era I have been doing further research on the puzzling white band that appears in many early Tudor portraits. The result is this rather long post. I have put forward an assortment of possibilities with arguments for and against each .The white band is a narrow strip of fabric that goes around the shoulders of ladies in an assortment of English portraits from the early and mid Tudor era.

annehorenboutThe band can be seen here going around the shoulders and down the bodice front .There seems no reason for this band in this portrait or most others .


the sole exception is this Holbein sketch were it appears to be holding up the skirts

YoungEnglishWomanHolbein white bandI do not however think that the white band in this case is necessarily holding up the skirts its seems to terminate a little above the garter but if it is indeed holding up the skirts I think it unlikely to be representative of its use in the portraits of upper class women All Tudor ladies seem to have usually let their gowns trail  as theres several comments about trained gowns and also about the middle class womens gowns trailing in mud .Where gowns were lifted they seem to have been back pined

three_ladies back lacing

I know there are several theory’s ,perhaps it is part of the undergown /chemise showing through much as the chemises in Italian portraits  do .

Italian-1520 white band

We have a portrait of Katherine of Aragon  wearing a gown in what appears to be a similar style so it is possible

kath sleeves

.It does explain its  appearance and disappearance  which can  be accounted for by a change in lacing in the gowns.

Early Tudor gowns front  usualy fastened  such as the one Elizabeth of york is shown wearing in  her famous portrait .


and in the Whitehall mural obviously front fasten and have no band

whitehall mural detail

A further portrait also  shows  Catherine of  Aragon wearing a gown that  appears to  fasten at the front,Though in Catherine’s case there is a panel pined across the front.On these gowns trim and neckline decoration is attached to the gown (This is the reason I usually attach trims to gowns which I design and sell as I feel there is some evidence to suggest that at least some less expensive trim was attached to the overgowns in the early Tudor age)


I  do think it possible Tudor gowns went through a side lacing phase as Holbein’s famous sketch shows a gown that appears to neither front nor back laced and the lady has the mysterious white band

holbein front and back gown.Later Tudor gowns either back lace or front lace with a panel pined across over the lacing and the white band accordingly disappears .


I think this unlikely however as both the Holbein sketch of a young woman walking and other sketches show the band with front fastening gowns.

It more likely that the Band in its early stages  is linked to sleeves style and attachment.Tudor gowns change shape in the early decades of the 16thc and it’s During this time the white band appears and perhaps may have covered  not just the side lacing of the  new style gowns  but also have covered the attachment lacing for the sleeves  or to cover pins and protect the gown from any pins etc used to attach the gowns sleeves.This function would hold good even for back lacing gowns as tie on sleeves would still need covering


Though I have to do further research I am also not convinced that all Tudor gowns acquired integral sleeves  either during the White band era or later as I have so far found it impossible to create the later  very wide necked and tight sleeves style with integral sleeves without the sleeves constantly falling off the shoulders.Its also very difficult to get any full sleeved chemise through these tight sleeves.I think its very possible some if not all Tudor gown sleeves were separate to the gowns

maria be medicei seperate sleeves

overgown undergown sep sleeves

Though I confess if this is the case I cant figure out how the sleeves attached as theres clearly no lacing holes in the Jane seymour portrait .The sleeves could only have attached to a layer under jewelled neckline billiment layer and so be hidden by the billiments as above and in later portraits such as the master John Portrait of Mary Tudor

princess mary tudor neckline

Perhaps  instead the tight top part of the sleeve was closed laced sleeve that devloped from tie /pin on sleeves


If you added underlacing to the sleeves above you would have a gown very like the Princess Mary Tudor gown

Or perhaps the  tight sleevs formed part of another gown with a sleevelss gown or bodice  of the same fabric above 1545 bodice  Christoph Amberger (1505-1562) A Woman

If the overgown was sleevelss or had tie on sleeves i also explains  how the undersleeves in so many paintings  such as the Jane Seymour portrait were attached and matched the visible part of the petticoat.Perhaps the expensive fabric  lower under sleeves evolved from separate lace on sleeves and did in fact form part of the undergown ensemble

Its also possible the upper sleeve was not a full sleeve but was merely a piece of fabric pined around the shoulders like a more complex version of the shawl partlets If you contrast the dress below with the image showing a shawl partlet it is a possibility.

tudor  sperate gowns CleveJoosPortraitAngietevavndenRijne

partlet fur hood

If this si so theres three gown sleeves showing in portraits.
The tight sleevelss or very short sleeved over gown ,
A longer full sleeve from an under gown
and a further sleeve from another undergown .
As with the skirts of any undergown only the visible part of these sleeves needed to be made of expensive fabrics ,while slashing in the lower parts would allow the chemise to show through. Some images  of earlier gowns suggest the undergown had eleborate and intergral sleeves covered by shorter overgown sleeves

under sleevs over sleevslucas-van-leyden-the-game-of-chess

However to return to the mystery of the Band .I feel it has implications that go beyond the gowns construction and influence headress construction .The band seems fairly sturdy linen perhaps even stiffened linen as it seems very similar to the linen that sticks out from the bottom of gable hoods .As mentioned earlier I dont belive it can have usualy been a chemise as it  also seems to appear in front lacing gowns were a chemise could not have been visible at the sides.(This can be seen in the second image at the top of this post where the woman has no a front fastening gown but still has the white band)The  preliminary  sketch for the portrait  also shows this (the sketch below is a later copy  but  to identical to the original except in the use of colour.(where I have been unable to find suitable online images of originals I have used these later coloured copies but only having compared them to originals)


The white bands always lie above any Chemise or lie under a partlet layer in both sketches and portraits such as this of Lady Moore.In this portrait there’s also a suggestion that the gable hood linen layer is a layer onto which is pined the fold of the lappets of gable hoods(This will be shown to be important later in the post)

More by follower of Hans Holbein (private collection) bottom

The Alice Moore portrait also shows the band seems to curve around the arm hole and stops at waist level quite abruptly

white band-Catherine_aragonIn the Catherine of argon portrait it also curves under the arms slightly and in other sketches

dauncey hoblein white band

I personally feel the most likely and flexible answer is the white band was used not just to cover lacing fixtures but also to hold billiments or other expensive trims and ,the jewels and beadwork could be tacked to the white band then a few limted pins could hold it in place and also that uit acted as a protective layer between the expensive fabrics  of the bodice in order to attach the  multitude of chains popular at this time ,it seems to serve that function in the Alice More portrait and the one below

white band mary guildford

The white bands  further use was perhaps to protect the bodice from Partlet fastenings or pins as some partlets seem to have been cape like and occasionally shawls were used.(I realise the portrait below doesnt show a white band ,however I could not find the portrait I wanted to use and did in any case merely want to show the cape /shawl like partlet as I doubt this style could have stayed in place without pins

partlet fur hood

If the white band served this function it explains why also used during the side lacing phase then its continuation could be accounted for by covering ties or lacing on the sleeves on later gowns but not on others which may have been in the back lacing or the earlier front fastening style though its possible what we assume to be a full overgown may not be but rather a  later tighter laced closed version of the early tudor late medieval gowns


If you lace the blue gown above closed enough for the skirts part to meet than add a panel to cover the lacing you have the typical Tudor gown

meltonconstableparr raised vlevletThus combining the Front lacing and over panel design with the earlier short sleeved gown

Why is the white band often absent if it covered sleeve  lacing holes on  early Tudor gowns ?

I would suggest the reasons its  puzzling compleat  absence  on some early portraits such as the famous National portrait gallery Anne Bolyn  one  below is also easily accounted for


These are later copies that removed what seems odd and unnecessary  items  or details ,perhaps also they were based on sketches that didn’t clearly show a band.The portrait above also simplifies the French hood and shows billiments attached to it  .The 1530s seems also to be a transitional phase in the White band ,non white band phase ,perhaps as it’s the time front and ,back lacing gowns begin to be more popular

Developement of the band

The white band if it  had an extra purpose  as place to pin billiments ahs other implication.I do not belive that billiments where integral to under gowns  once ,back and side lacing phases developed . it’s at this time it becomes popular to match billiments on hoods to those on gowns and occasionally even necklaces and girdles,the Billiments may have been attached to undergowns but this seems unlikes as it would make it harder to wear the billiments with different gowns .The  more elaborate  jeweled billiments  I belive were always pined onto linen and this includes those on Gable hoods  ,this seems to be the case in the existing portraits  such as those above  and can be seen more clearly on sketches

Holbein_gable_hood_eng construction layers

Or sketches of less aristocratic ladies where there is no distraction from Jewels.The one below also shows a brooch holding the lappets in place at the side further suggesting that Gable hoods were not complete whole but a headdress built up of mix and match layers over a base of stiff linen

English_Lady_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger hood and broochThis would explain their development as an early portrait shows a line linen gable hood prototype headdress

220px-Lady_Margaret_Beaufort_from_NPGAnd also one with pined on veil over a white linen base


Though I have not had a chance to explore this using actual fabrics as yet it seems to me a likely explanation ,It’s also possible French hoods were layers of fabrics and trims rather than merely one complete headress.Early portraits of front fastening gowns with applied decoration show hoods in several parts often with matching applied decoration as below or with expensive fabric layers as ind in the Young Catherine portrait or the ones below


isablela of hapsberg frenc hoodThis of Isabelle of Hapsburg is very similar to Catherine’s hood and perhaps it was in fact Catherine of Aragon not Mary Tudor or Anne Boleyn who brought the hood over initially before discarding it like the spanish farthingale for more English fashions such as the gable hood

Later hood styles  appear to carry forward these layers or have layers mounted over bases

NPG 1119; Unknown woman, formerly known as Catherine Howard after Hans Holbein the Younger

frenc hoodsWhile some sketches such as the one above suggest a vague link between the french hood and english intermediate hood

HolbeinAnneCresacre1527 white band

Later hoods seem a mix of white linen or silk with added billiments  and with separate probably wired back billiments holding in place a veil as seen in this portrait of mary

PORTRAIT OF MARY TUDOR artist not known but in the style of Flicke, Painted onto wood, found at Anglesey Abbey

The English intermediate hood while worn over a coif  seems the only headdress which is actually composed in one piece ,all be it with applied layers of fabric .The shortened version of the intermediate hood appears to have been used for mounting  billments to create a version of the french hood.I realise these are sometimes seen as coifs but several portraits such as the one below show the layer to be quite rigid

french hood

The frequent appearance of white in french hoods ,or red supports the separate  billiments theory as they appear when hoods begin to appear with applied decoration that matches the bodices gold studs or embroidery but continue until late in the hoods history by which stage the trend to match bodice and hood billiments requires s=more complex and expensive billiments which would be too expensive to confine to one headdress or dress

Later also when the hood begins to gain height and acquire a steeper angle  when the billiment is relativity simple such as gold work  or  pearls they  appear to have become separate wired items used to hold the back veil in place

FrancoiseBrezeHead french hood

It’s still  likely the lower billiment is mounted on a linen coif as there is evidence for this

parr-smIf you remove the bonnet in this portrait and add a french hood panel the pearls will sit in the same place as front billiments  on french hoods and a couple of early portraits support this idea such as the one below where there seems to be a layer of peals or beads above the pleated underlayer

Jean Perréal (French artist, c 1451-c 1531) Anne de Bretagne

This pleated underlayer is a continuous feature  of french hoods and perhaps became pined back to become a coif for the hair to hold it up .

The snood in this image must I think have had the hair dressed under it and possibly covered by a linen snood to protect the expensive fabrics from the hair.Hair was unlikely to be as clean as today as lacking our modern complex shampoos there was nothing  to prevent grease and oils building up and some ladies do seem to have used oils to dress their hair perhaps perfumed .The image below also seems to show  the bottom pearls |(or faux pearl glass beads )mounted on a coif .While the back white panel of peals seems to be mounted on linen or silk and the neckline Jewels mounted on white fabric.

tudor-french-hood snood

I think this shows jewels were ordinarily sewn onto linen and not gowns ,headresses etc and confirms the use of the white band and white neckline trims for Jewels.I think the simple band that initaly covered sleeve lacings and prevented damage to delicate and expensive fabrics such as cloth of gold velvet but also began to be used to pin billiments onto .

I will add images of my own experiments with applied trims once I complete more Tudor gowns and also post separate explorations of both Gable hood and french hoods again when I experiment with the construction myself

I am indebted to the blog below for several images of French headdresses

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An easy cheats guide to making Victorian dress

As part two of my make your own Victorian outfit I will do a quick cheats guide to making a gown the instructions will create a gown like this.I also give instructions on how to make a  cheats bustle gown but this is a slightly harder project

To make this you will need

Some wide pretty lace or fringe or beaded trim  for the neckline,bought lace is easy to find on line and cheap ,or you can use lace cut from a vintage table or tray cloth

A commercial  boned evening /clubbing bodice such as this

This is to recover  for your dress bodice ,try to find ones that are well made  such as wit and wisdom ,top shop etc are best as they come with straps,Or if you don’t have or can’t find any of these you can buy a boned corset in the style  below  from ebay ,these are more trouble to work with as they can,t be cut to make a v at the front and will need the front fastening part sewn together then had a strip of fabric stitched over the studs to stop them showing through.

When choosing a top ideally buy a size larger than you need as once it’s recovered it wont stretch and you may also need to cut off a back zip will make the bodice even smaller.

The rest

you will need ,cotton and at least two needles,

scissors ,


around 4 metres of very thin curtain cord ,ribbon or thong,,

you need something around shoelace width ideally or as narrow as possible this will be used for lacing up the back of your gown.You can if your very short of time and resources use ribbon but this will look odd unless you make a very long back flounce to cover most of it.Cord by contrast isn’t really noticeable

You will need around 5 metres of fabric,,the dress above is Damask  but thats rarely used for Victorian clothing.Most of the others are taffeta which is an excellent choice as it is also usually washable and if you buy synthetic fabric it rarely creases.The taffeta below is called “shot ” fabric which means it has two colours woven in the fabric and shimmers in the light,I always use shot taffeta for dresses unless they need to look like working class or middle class everyday dresses and all the gowns below are the same style  fabric

green fit bustle gown





,but you can use fake  very plain  fake silk if you need an everyday middle class dress,this was a governess gown.

moor top2

velvet ,embroidered silk which is very realistic looking but can be expensive.


or satin but satin while cheap does pucker very easily and is a pain to hem..

you can buy taffeta fairly cheaply off  ebay from around £2.99 metre all the fabric above was that price or cheaper .It’s also possible to use a cotton floral duvet cover  such as this from Ikea.


which has become very popular with costumers as it’s almost a copy of late 18th early 19th c fabric.For a wide skirted dress you need a double duvet cover.

Patterned cotton is a good choice as its very easy to hide bad stitching or wobbly seams and looks really authentic

If your making a narrower skirted dress which isnt going to have a hoop you can use a single duvet cover such as the one below,also an Ikea duvet cover and again a pattern very similar to a genuine 1830s dress

1830s bronte gown

or  find a pair of curtains in a charity shop .The dress below is curtain fabric.

st ives bluebells 1830s gown



The skirt below is made from a vintage Laura Ashley curtains, making a skirt and using a Victorian looking blouse is a way to make a cheap Victorian looking outfit but it doesnt look as authentic as a dress.

laura ashley skirt

You can add a waist coat to the skirt which looks better


or a modern but Victorian looking jacket

victorian mourning outfit

The dress below also uses vintage curtain for the pink skirt.

pink bustle dress

This gown is made from a cotton duvet cover from a charity shop

green cotton bustle dress

I made an extra very frilled skirt with a slight train to go under the dress to make an extra outfit,I used an old duvet cover and a lot of cheap lace

me tills 1870s dress


If you are lucky enough to find some vintage silk or velvet curtains when you cut the skirt make sure you utilise the hem of the curtain,,its likely to look very machine sewn but you can always cover the line of hem stitching with narrow trim of ribbon,lace or fringe etc.I made a mistake hemming the gown below and used velvet ribbon to hide the old hemline

Mrs rochester3

(The  pelerine “collar” here is a tray cloth restyled )I dont advise using striped or checked fabric as its harder to match on the sleeves and bodice .

If you have a large  budget then kilt fabric is perfect as it doesn’t need any hems at all as  the edges are already finished,its not wide enough to use the edges for a single tier skirt but makes stunning tiered ones.The dress below also used the edges of the fabric for the wide sleeves which also didnt need to be hemmed and for a piece of fabric around the neckline instead of the usual lace,I am not sure how much fabric was in this as I used other for a skirt but theres at least 5 metres

red taratn vcitroain gown

You can make a similar cotton gown that will also have edges by using a sari or rather two ,you make it the same way by cutting three tiers.This is very authentic as many Victorian gowns used Indian cotton probably originally saris.

tiered gown



Make the skirt ,this is fairly easy ,hold the fabric against you until you can be certain you know where to cut to make it the right length ,,if your make a skirt that will go over a hoop or net petticoat make it at least 3 ins longer than you need as the hoop will make it higher ,if it’s going over a very wide hoop leave  at least 6 ins ,this may be too much but better safe than sorry .Mistakes at this point will be hard and time-consuming to correct so leave the piece longer rather than shorter .If you do make a mistake ,it’s not the end of your project  you can buy a wide strip of lace or contrasting fabric to sew around the bottom of the hem but its extra expense and trouble as its hard to sew trim on straight when a skirts already been sewn together and as can be seen below not very noticeable

Mrs Rochester


Having cut a long strip of your fabric or two strips if you’re using curtains or a duvet ,sew them together ,leaving a few inches at the top ,this will be the back of your dress and the gap will be at the centre back of your dress ,its going to need to fit over your head through.


cut a  wide (3/4 in) strip of fabric or ribbon exactly the right length to go around your waist


Run a needle and thread along the top of the “skirt and pull it into gathers until its the same size as your ribbon leave around 1 in   un gathered at either side of the gap and fold these over to make a neater edge.If you want a neater skirt you can pleat it but this is harder


Sew the gathered up “skirt” onto the ribbon ,it doesn’t  need to be overly neat as it will be hidden under the bodice but the stitches need to be close and strong ,,using the thread double is the easiest way .Fold the ribbon over the top of the gathered up skirt piece and stitch it down.


Its helps to iron the waistband as flat as possible as it reduces bulk at the waist but it’s not essential,,don’t forget to iron it inside out .
If the skirt needs hemming try it over the hoop then cut to length and hem ., do a narrow hem so your stitches are close to the floor when the skirts on as ,no ones likely to notice how neat the hemline stitches are so as long as its a colour of cotton close to the fabric you don’t need to worry too much about evenness or neatness.If you feel like going the extra mile you can add velvet ribbon or fringe etc trim to cover the stitches but it’s rarely noticed.

If you really dont have time or dont want to hem the gown you could use pinking shears or scalloped edged scissors to create a hemline .The Gown below has no hems whatsoever.

The gown below could also be made instead of a single tier gown if you have been able to find very wide but short curtains or two pairs of curtains not quite long enough to make a single tier skirt ,the curtains could be used individually as a tier each .If you can find a long skirt of some kind to sew them onto that would make life easier but if not you could use a sheet as the base for the tier layers .Just follow the original skirt instructions for any under skirt and the tiers

green dres

7 /optional

Make two puff sleeves ,cut two generous  long rectangles of fabric that are wide enough to reach your elbow or above depending on how long you want the sleeves.Sew the  sleeve ends together to make a cylinder,now gather the bottom ,keep trying it on your arm until it’s how you would like it ,now you can fold over the rough edge and stitch it roughly ,,cover your stitches with some gathered lace.,repeat with the other sleeve .leave the tops of both rough until you finish your bodice..Its not essential to have sleeves you can just add very deep  lace (see the green and blue gowns below). If you used curtains and dont have spare fabric you could  use a  different fabric for the sleeves such as tulle or lace .A deep venise lace flounce will usually look fine though.Try to avoid Nylon lace as it will be very noticeable at your neckline and its the lace which is the main feature of your gown,if it looks modern the dress wont work.

dark green gown

To make a long sleeved gown is harder but essential the same cut a rectangle but this time hold it against your arm to work out how it needs to be shaped to make a fitted sleeve ,Alternatively make the puffed sleeves elbow length

emily shoot pars

If you need long sleeves for an early Victorian dress you can use these elbow length puffed sleeves and add to tubes of fabric to make long sleeves.This was a long sleeved daytime bodice that went with the green tiered dress,making two bodices and keeping the skirt separate is a brilliant way to have two outfits for the price of one


Or if you have a blouse for under your dress you can make Pagoda sleeves ,for these you make the top narrower so its not making a big puffy top but keep the bottom wide ,it makes an upside down v shape and  you leave them un gathered at the bottom to make the wide flared Victorian sleeves below.Its also easy to make a short plain sleeve then make a wide sleeve for under it ,this will again give you twolooks for any dresses

cb birthday pars

pagoda slssve side

pagoda sle.For


Make bodice,first cut the front waist to the shape you want,start with smaller cuts than you feel might be needed just in case you make a mistake ,then trim a bit at a time.For most Victorian dresses a pointed front even a very slight one  is the most flattering.

parasonage red dress

,though early dresses had straight or slightly curved fronts some of which were higher.This is an original gown from the V and A Musuem


,,you can use either for bustle dresses as it wont show ,but a v shape gives crisper folds at the waist.

mina dress


Next cut off any back zip,if you keep this but cut off the knobbly base and remove the actual zipper it is useful to put this at the back edge of your gown between the edge and the lacing holes as this will prevent tears to the fabric

Now you  begin covering the bodice  place a piece of fabric in the centre front and tack it down.

bodice top layer

,If you have a pretty decorated piece of fabric it can create a nice focus

cavailer gown

or a jewelled panel from a evening gown(the panel above is from a cushion and the panel  below from an Asian Dupata ).


Any decorated piece of fabric can look very effective.

bodice front

but if not use the same fabric as for the rest of the gown.Make this piece of fabric wide enough to reach from strap to strap but no wider and lay it on the fabric

Next lay a piece of fabric next to the front panel at what ever angle you think looks best and so that the right side of the fabric is face down on top of the bodice  ,if in doubt you can lay it along a boned panel in the bodice so you can a stitching guide and can be sure each side will be the same .If they are slightly uneven or the seams not straight you can always cover the join with trim or lace as below.

cavailer gown2

The fabric panel  doesn’t need to be long enough to completely cover the strap you can patch this up later with spare pieces as its easier and the piecing wont show as its going to be covered by lace.

Now stitch  this second piece down leaving at least an inch overlap on the pieces so that is theres a later tear on the seam you dont automatically see the bodice underneath .Stitch this  row of stitches over again ,this stitching needs to be very strong ,flip the fabric over so its right side is showing and tack its edge down as you did the front piece ,now repeat the process  at the opposite side.

If your feeling adventurous you can try stitching  the two side panels over your centre panel almost covering it making a fake jacket closure

hathawys blue gown

Which ever style you choose  repeat it at each side with another strip of fabric on and so on until you have covered both sides of the bodice,For a typically Victorian look its best to use at least four.

brown bronte gown

and separate panels either side but you can use just three as below

Now tuck the bottom and top edges neatly under the bodice and tack down.

When you reach the back fold the edges of the final piece over and stitch it inside the bodice .If this is the right size then you can move on to the final steps ,if not add another piece of the fabric in the same manner as the other pieces ,however on the final piece slip the only zip tracking into the edge and secure with a few stitches,,this will give a firm edge to hold the bodice in shape once you add the lacing holes

lastly piece up any gaps on the strap parts and sew the puff sleeves into the bodice ,gather them as needed to make them fit ,Its best to try to keep the gathers at the top of the arms but not essential as the lace will  hide any mistakes.The finished gown minus the lace trim will look roughly like this


Add the gathered lace to the neckline,if you can find old lace ,or an old tablecloth or tray cloth to cut lace off it will make the dress look more authentic but it does cause problems for washing.

,Modern venice /venise lace is best as its easy to wash but looks authentic,this can be bought from ebay or fabric stores.

If you want a day gown not an evening gown you can use a long thin table runner or tray cloth cut it part way down the middle and cut a small semi circle out of  the top of this  cut to make a faux Victorian collar or pelerine as seen here,this could also go over a low necked gown to make it an day gown

brown bronte gown

lastly make holes at the back of the bodice to thread ribbon or ideally cord through the lace the bodice shut when on.It might seem when the dress is of the lacing cord looks clumsy and will stand out but this is not the case even when seen directly from the back.

back bustle dr4sss

from most angles is barely visible .

unquiet slumbers bst




If you have spare fabric its best to save a piece to put inside the bodice to cover any gap between the two back parts of the bodice once on.Even a small gap that shows skin or under layers sill stand out(.If you make this “modesty panel” a foot or so longer than the bodice it will tuck down and hide the closure gap in your skirt.You could also add a frill as below which would blend in with any frills on a bustle.

back bst

oh la lal moncrome

But you may wish to try the bodice on first as if it meets perfectly as above  you may not want to bother with this stage ,,though save some fabric just in case you need to do it later .

To make the holes you ideally need a pointy tool ideally  bodkin,but you can just as easily use a DIY bradel, a sharp kebab or similar skewer or any other sharp pointed object you may have to hand .Dont use scissors as they make holes that are too big and dont use a knife as it will slash the fabric and possibly your finger as well .I usually add holes at around 2/3 inch intervals but it’s entirely up to you and what you feel is needed .

To thread the lacing cord in seal each end of the cord tightly by wrapping cellotape or parcel tape around it to stop it unravelling.Now thread it though to make a fish bone type lacing design  or a straight one as in those seen below.Its essentially the same way you would thread shoe laces.

bustle dress back


Do not the x shaped one as the x shape will stand out and is inaccurate,While back lacing gowns were uncommon in Victorian times they were made so this closure is authentic and much easier than using buttons etc which would require a perfectly tailored bodice to fasten

Try on the bodice ,if it fits tack on your skirt ,you can leave the back gap in the skirt  as its rarely noticeable.You can easily hide it by making over laping gathers in the back skirt or making a longer panel for under the lacing cord ,no one has ever noticed a gap in my dresses ,even on film footage.


but if you prefer to have it closed you can buy velcro which is hard to stitch but much better than stick on velcro.

Bustle gowns

The bodices of these gowns can be made following the instructions above ,Leaving out very wide long puffed sleeves as this is not a style used in bustle gowns,you can use smaller puffs or gather  and ruche in wider ones.


.To decorate the neckline use either lace.

pink bustle dress

or beaded trim.


though its also possible to buy pleated satin ribbon .The decoration below is on an 18thc dress but the pleated trim is the same for Victorian gowns

detailing bodice

You could also add two wide lace panels either side of the neckline to make a v necked dress ,just cut two lengths of lace long enough to tack under the gowns neckline at an angle to meet front and back.





black dress side train


Or a piece across the centre  front to make a higher neckline



To make the front draped bit add a very wide and long blunted ended triangle of fabric  (ie cut and very long triangle longer at the front then chop two triangles off each side end .imagine ts going to be tied a bit like a scarf around your middle

.Now  stitch it to the bodice at the front dont stitch right from side to side but just across the centre front   .Make the bit were you sew it to the waist flat at the front.

green cotton bustle dress

gathered at the sides.

pull it towards your waistband and drape it until it goes all around to the centre back if theres enough fabric spare you can make an extra draped bit.Stitch it to the waistband.

bustle red


This should create at least a little bit of a draped front.If you fold it over in deep folds you can avoid adding any decoration ,pleats or trim to this






If you make this piece long and wide enough you should  be able to gather it into a reasonable draped shape by playing about the the blunt ends of the fabric panel.

If you use velvet or contrasting fabric this front panel is a major style point to the gown.The least amount of work taken on a bustle dress can involve draping this over a contrasting skirt to give a more or less complete dress,just add another draped piece at the back.

wycoll blue vel dress

To create both front and back drapery try sewing ribbon to the end  of the blunt ended edges or use a safety pin and keep experimenting with how to drape it.Dont worry if the v isn’t central some bustle gowns didnt have exactly central front drapes .

Instead of this front draped panel or as well as you could add two side panels ,like little aprons but at the sides,adding this under or over the apron front drapery gives a much more complicated look to the gown.

green dress detail

I will give instructions for creating the bustle bit further along but first the easy bit. The skirt can be made almost the same way but instead of gathering the waistline all the way around  leave the front almost straight as for this gown.


,just gather the sides a little bit  and back more .For the hemline instead of making it exactly the same all the way around cut the front higher and the back longer to give some extra length to go over the bustle ,,a trained gown is ideal so you do not  have to worry too much as getting the back length exact .The skirt in bustle gowns cant be sewn onto the bodice as theres another layer over it .You can just leave it without a proper waistline and add ribbon ties or velcro fastening.




The hard part of bustle gowns is the  actual bustling and this is difficult .I usually make bustle gowns in three parts sometimes more .The bodice ,the skirt and the bustle.For the bustle I use assorted sized pieces and assorted shapes .You can use a long wide piece of fabric and simply  gather it up at each end.then get a narrow piece and do the same and another piece this will give three gathered tiers add these to a long piece of ribbon and tie onto your waist over the skirt then put the bodice on.

Thats basically  what this bustle is .

green fit bustle gown


.Alternatively do one long gathered rectangle gathered as above and add either one or two more in decreasing sizes ,or cut  one  small long rectangle and gather it at the top  as below ,then sew a piece of gathered fabric to the bottom of the modesty panel used under the lacing  to make a little frilled back.

cherry tree back bustle dress


Or use a lot of draped or gathered  lengths intertwined over a long panel of contrasting fabric.You dont need to follow any pattern just make a lot of different lengths pf fabric and ruch them ,this gown has a front panel which was long enough to gather at the sides then drape up but this used a lot of fabric.


back heb

cut a lot of the little frills and stitch them onto a long strip of fabric,this is not  hard but does take a very long time.

bustle dress back

for a very simple bustle you could just use a panel of lots of pleats these take a while but are not hard to make.

back bst



Bustle dresses need a lot of time spent hemming but you can get around this if you add frills that are edged with pinking shears as in the red gown below


All the dresses shown in this post were made using this cheats guide  method and it can be used  to make Tudor , Elizabethan and restoration  bodices in the same manner but you will need different sleeves .For early Tudor gowns you can omit adding a front  v to the waistband and just cover the bodice as it is ,likewise for the Restoration gown below  for Elizabethan bodices ideally a longer v shaped front but its not essential

green and gold gowngreen tudor gown front

,please do comment at the foot of the post if you need any further help .

Further DIY clothing posts are here

and lastly ,though its a Regency bonnet the instructions will work for an early Victorian bonnet also

Posted in 19thc, brontes, Hathaways of Haworth, history, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Charlotte Brontes wardrobe unlocked The going away Gown

This was a dress I had been hoping to examine closely as its one of the gowns which can be assigned to Charlotte with absolute certainty and one I had tried to replicate (unsuccessfully) from memory .It was the first gown that I caught sight of on my arrival at the library ,the hem just peeking out from its layers of careful wraping.The dress is made from good quality very crisp silk and the hem further stiffened with corded fabric edging so the skirt of the gown  stood out in stiff but graceful folds that for some reason brought to mind those statutes of ladies that recline on Tudor and Elizabethan graves their petticoats and gowns all falling in stiffly folded curves around their feet.

With so much to see I was unsure which of the gowns to examine first but as the mysterious Brown gown lay closest to me I decided to start there and leave the Iconic and well-known  going away /Honeymoon gown for later.

It’s a strange and moving item ,the stiffness of the fabric  and the gowns construction  almost creates an impression of an occupant and  its strange to imagine what is now laid out with such care  on a table was once hung neatly upstairs with similar care waiting Charlotte’s arrival from her wedding at the nearby church and just a few hours later would have been clothing Charlotte as she walked happily out of the Parsonage door to start her Honeymoon tour .I suspect it arrived at its destination hours later rather less crisp and pristine than it now looks but  such is the case with all natural fabrics  and the gown was an eminently sensible choice for traveling .

It’s beautifuly tailored with a  comfortably cut double bodice giving an extra layer of warmth  .The loose sleeves and front fastening bodice making it comfortable in heat  of the day or cold  of the evening and easy for tired travel weary figners to remove.The dark but elegant colours are  less likely to show mud spatters or spills.Smart and very fashionable but not overly showy,The collar shows signs  of the same (now)  gold silk fringing as the waistline and when new this probably shone attractively in the sunlight making  the gown look less dark than it seems laid out flat .

I  know some gowns can change colour over time and I am not sure how  or if this fabric has changed colour with age,I know is widely considered to have been mauve ,,though mauve was an exepnsive colour to buy in the first half of the victorian age,, ,it’s always been carefully stored so there’s no sunlight fading  or fading from washing ,discolouration from coal or woodsmoke fires etc and its doesnt look markedly different inside so  the colour change must have been within the fabric itself and I dont know enough about fabric conservation to know how early victorian dyes age,certainly later analine dyes can fade but this would have been pre analine .There does seem to be possible signs of shattering at the neck ,which is  no reflection on its conseravtion ,its tragicaly an unavoidable result of reactions within some silks to  metals used in the dying process so may be thats also caused discolouration. I think as its trimmed with the gold look fringing and the mid brown corded velvet fabric  it was probably always fairly dark ,though perhaps with more colour evident.

Sadly the dress shows very little sign of use ,the lining along the hemlines is pristine,There is areas of damage at the neckline but they may be fabric aging or from a brooch or caused by its outing on a model in the early days or the 20th c.Theres also some odd pin marks along the hemline which look like a previouse hem line but that seems odd as theres less than an inch difference .Despite these I dont think the gown saw major ,its impossible to remove hemline staining from mud or general pavement dust and debris (as anyone trying to resell a modern wedding or prom gown knows) and this gown has none of those which I am pretty certain it would have had it been worn around Haworth,for country walks or in a victorian town.

It’s possible it only saw one outing on the day Charlotte left for her honeymoon.

I did not however examine this as closely as the other items as while I was extremely careful will all the clothing I confess to being so nervous of damaging this gown that I had to will myself to move any part of it and the fabric does seem to be rather fragile in some places on the bodice .I am used to examining artifacts and usually  focus on the item before me to the exclusion  of other thoughts but in the case of this gown I  felt an almost unbearable sadness that this tiny  gown had seen such high hopes and happiness yet months later was probably hidden away in a trunk  it’s very sight a source of pain and sorrow .

The gown is  very full skirted like most of Charlotte’s later gowns  but is not in fact an actual gown but a two-part outfit ,as was becoming fashionable at the time ,this allowed for an extra bodice to be made to convert gowns to a secondary use without requiring a complete change of clothing ,,perhaps this gown also had a second bodice now lost,It is beautifully and I would guess professionayl made and much more detailed on a closer inspection that it seems when viewed in the small postcard images.

It has a very complex construction compared to the other gowns ,the pleated bodice being built on a more tailored underbodice.The bodice had a  detailed  waist trimmed with silk fringe.It is trimmed at the hem ,cuff and neck with mid brown corded possible velvet fabric .Its fastens  with hooks and eyes .It’s a telling contrast to the earlier Brown gown laid next to it which  while it was carefully and neatly cut and sewn  was almost certainly homemade with several signs of wear,the brown  gown seemed to me at  to shout governess or at least teacher as do some of the other earlier gowns in the parsonage online collection  .This outfit was that of a  reasonable wealthy fashionable middle class lady .

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Anne of Cleves ,not as bad as shes painted

The Lady seems to have had a bad press ,Henry’s wives tend to be used to embody almost every female stereotype that exists ,The faithful ,longsuffering wife,, Catherine of Aragon ,,the adventuress and other woman ,,Ann Bolyne, the  chaste ,gentle and quiet loved and tragically  lost young mother ,Jane Seymour ,the ugly ,stupid frumpy ,Ann ,the young silly strumpet,Catherine Howard ,the good  wise  older woman /stepmother Katherine Parr. The labels are usually wrong based on Victorian writers or hearsay and when  occasionally accurate tell nothing like the whole story ,,For example Henry VIII is supposed to have loved  the  virtuouos  and shy  Jane Seymour , yet Jane was quite old by Tudor standards,, well over 25  and a woman that’s very probably jane is caught sat on Henry’s  knee while hes still married to Ann ,which doesnt seem very maiden like behavior. Likewise Henry is supposed to have  been devoted to Jane ,yet when  he saw Janes newly arrived Ladies in waiting he was heard to say that had he seen them before he would never have married Jane ,within months of their marriage he had taken a mistress and though he was certainly extremely upset by her death  and actually wore mourning for several months ,the letters sent out to inform ambassadors of Jane’s death also mentioned he was inline for another wife .

In this light we should therefore reassess Ann.The first portrait we always see of Ann is the longer version of a miniature painted by Hans Holbein

The smaller miniature in its pretty ivory box seen here was part of a number of mail order bride portraits Henry commissioned so asses the merits of potential brides.

The miniature was enough to persuade Henry to send Holbein off to paint an expensive full length portrait of Ann and the full length version sold Henry on Ann as his next bride.Interestingly no one even Henry complained the portrait was inaccurate and Holbein remained Henry VIII and the courts painter of choice.The mystery may be partly solved by a side view image of Ann.

The features that look regular and attractive front on do seem rather sharp and angular side on and its been suggested Anns nose was much longer and the painting may have been retouched.Even so to me at least she still doesn’t seem that bad,She seems to be prettier than her predessor Jane Seymour.

and not unlike her successor the pretty Katherine Howard as far as facial features go.

In fact to me this portrait above seems more likely to be Anne than Catherine ,the attribution of the portrait as one of Catherine is based mostly on the fact the lady is wearing royal jewels and yet this portrait is nothing like almost every other portrait thats linked to Catherine or has in the past been said to be her.Other potential portraits of Catherine are always in the same basic style and shes always wearing the same style of clothing

I think it not impossible therefore that the minture portrait of the lady with a rich jewelled hood and the queens jewels  is  one of Ann .We think of Anne as always dressed in the highwaisted Flemish style but she quickly adjusted to English court life and did not continue to wear Flemish clothing long after her arrival but soon adopted English fashions.The lady in the miniature portrait is quite curvey as is Ann and has a similar stance and facial features ,she also seems older than the very young Catherine Howard who was almost certainly a teenager when Henry met her and may have been in her late teens as queen .

Its uncertain why Henry found Ann unattractive , when Henry remarried there were a number of occasions when both Ann and hes new wife Catherine were together at events,sometimes dancing together and Several ambassadors remarked that Catherine was not as pretty as Ann who Henry thought ugly.(when she took to wearing English dress for the first time after the wedding, one contemporary remarked that the fashion ‘set forth her beauty and good visage that every creature rejoyced to behold her’)( quote compliments of Ms sunydale)The problem Henry had with Ann appears to be less black and white than the Flanders Mare comments suggests.

Its likely that one thing Henry really disliked was her figure ,he singles it out for complaint in his comments to courtiers and she is far more buxom than his other wives ,Henry seems to have liked small breasted petite built ladies and Ann is always shown as curvy.Likewise her succesor Katherine was extreemly petite

It’s also  likely it was her lack of English ,social skills and “elegant accomplishments” that most soured the relationship.They certainly got off to a bad start as Henry who liked to play games of courtly love appeared to Ann on her arrival “in disguise “,Ann didn’t recognise him ,treated him rather coldly and when he tried to kiss her ,its possible she may have slapped him ,,not what Henry would have expected.Ann was probably never likely to make up ground from this first meeting .

Unknown woman at the court of Henry VIII suggested as either Ann or her sister Amelia

Despite being discarded I can’t help feeling of all Henrys wives Anne was the most fortunate ,,She spent very little time living with him,He was so nice to her while they were together she thought everything was fine more or less up to the point where she was “dumped”She got along ok with Henry but doesnt seem to have been in love with him unlike his unforunate first wives and she got a very handsome settlement during Henry life, a high position when at court and enjoyed a great deal of liberty not given to most women at that time and certainly more than she would have had in cleves.She also seems to have avoided Henrys amorous attentions which considering his vast build ,stinking leg ulcer and bad breadth was probably not a bad thing .While her fortunes were less good under his successors ,she survived both Henry and his other wives and apart from a slight run in with Henrys secret service was usualy left in peace .

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Charlotte Brontes wardrobe

The last in my Charlotte Bronte fashion posts .Though I have covered a lot of her gowns ,bonnets etc in several posts they are scattered about the blog so I thought I would create a visual gallery of likely dresses ,bonnets,shoes shawls etc .This is based on gowns ,bonnets and fabric swatches in the Bronte Parsonage museums collection ,but also on letters ,accounts by friends and strangers and then taking into account trims and shawls ,collars etc in the Museum collection and imagining what they mostly likely went on or matched

I have gone across the late 1830s to early 1850s.I assume that Charlotte was probably slightly behind the times in her youth ,she didnt live anywhere she would be likely to see women dressed in high fashion and she had no mother to keep track of fashions and create new gowns for her  or show her how to style her hair.All accounts at schools talk about her looking old fashioned both in clothing and hair styles.I do not think these years should be used to judge her fashion sense,she had no income and was essentialy being dresssed based on the taste of  an elderly widowed parson and an old lady .I am fairly sure we all have embrassing photos of outfits our parents dressed us in as children.

First the portraits

While the first looks almost quaker like ,this is most likely due to Branwells lack of interest in painting clothing and also his inability to accuratly paint the lace or white work details on the collars


The gown below has a much more elaborate belt and ruched sleeves but is in other respects fairly similar ,the wide pelerine collar  may have been removable and the white lace pelerine collars were seperate items.All the brontes are wearing white collars/shawl collars .Charlottes dress seems to have a belt rather than a waist band and her collar seems to have a frilled edge ,but she would have more than one collar .

Its just possible that Charlottes dress has a wide brown fabric collar as there is some horizontal brush strokes.But this may again be Branwell ,as he also seems to have painted two different kinds of sleeve on the gown ,but the large gigot sleeve is most likely the lower sleeve is where he had painted himself out so I think its just messy brushwork.

The dress does seem to have trimmed cuffs.


(met museum of art)

cb 1.jpg


This and the pelerine collar images are from this site

Summer c. 1830….


The hair

What most people remember about Charlottes hair when she was younger is the

“unbecoming frizz” comments and assume she didnt care about her hair.

However if you look closely at this hairstyle its clearly had more than cursory effort put into it ,theres at least two different partings ,one to create the front draped fring and ringlets and another to create a contrasting line where the hairs pulled back into a bun.

The bun itself looks quite eleborate.,far from taking no notice of fashion or her clothing the hair shows she spent a lot more time than needed on styling it and had seen fashion plates showing similar styles and recreated it .The curly ringlets would need to be created by wrapping hair round rags and “curl papers” When I was tiny my grandma would create the victorian ringlets by somehow twisting my damp hair around cotton strips .Then I had to sleep in them overnight .They looked great the next day,,as long as it didnt rain and ok the day after before slowly dropping out.Charlotte also seems to have a slightly more elaborate bun than just the basic pulled back style


Perhaps in more detail the front would look like the ladys below

woman 130w

Contrast Charlottes hair with Emily and Annes,she also seems to be wearing a more flounced white pelerine /shawl collar


Its also just possible Charlotte was using hair pieces to create her styles,she apparently had fine hair and it wasnt substantial enough for later fashions ,when she went to sit for the portrait by Richmond ,she was wearing a fake hair piece which he asked her to take off ,mistakenly assuming it was a little flounced decoration .

Its hard to tell ,but it seems in this portrait Charlotte has a gauzy shawl around her shoulders.Though its always assumed this is a dark gown because of the later Thompson portrait ,theres nothing in the image to give any idea of colour,though there are hints of trimmings and of the lace being quite fine.

NPG 1452,Charlotte BrontÎ (Mrs A.B. Nicholls),by George Richmond

I think this may be a similar style to the going away gown ,but its possible its more tightly tailored but that the artist wanted to leave the lines softer ,so theres a couple of possible options

Something vageuly like this slightly later gown,which is trimmed  in a very simialr fashion to the going away gown and has the little tie neck collar

cb 4.jpg

or something like this  with a gauzy over layer like the darker gown


or more possibly Charlotte is wearing a lace shawl ,which was a fashion trend and Brussels lace was particualry popular

cb lsc.jpg

or maybe it was really as plain as people imagine ,like this dress worn by Ruth Wilson in Jane Eyre which appears to have been inspired by the Richmond Portrait and probably also the Thompson one


The fabrics

gre barbronte paisley fabricimages (3)

These we know for certain are fabrics Charlotte wore ,in addition theres the fabric the going away gown is made from a finely striped silk.Possibly originaly this shade


photo from this sellers site

There is also one colour we know she must have worn for long periods of time

black  in varying degrees ,either deepest mourning dull fabrics with no colour whatsoever and no jewelery except mounring items ,then gradually adding colours

unquiet slumbers

Charlotte possesed a very similar and very expensive looking red paisley shawl to the one above .She also had some extreemly fine and most likely extremely expensive black lace all of which was well beyond the basic essentials needed.

We also have a chemise of Charlottes with pretty trimmed neckline another needless addition which again shows Charlotte liked to have pretty things


When I examined Charlottes corset there was tiny “wonderbra” type padded pieces of fabric sewn into the bust part to give the wearer more of a bust .its impossible to be certain Charlotte did it ,but as nobody worse cast off corsets its seems likely it was her and she wanted to create a more curvey  shape.

Someone at the parsonage most likely Charlotte as its most her gowns which survive (but possibly Emily) Also had a bright bubble gum /barbie pink dressing /wrapper gown ,a piece of clothing that was like a dressing gown ,but looked more like a loose fitting dress as it was designed to be worn for the early part of the day before putting out layers like corsets .This was an item nobody but family would see,so a chance to make your own choices of colours and style without worrying about the dress being seen ,if Charlotte did indeed choose a bright pink spotted fabric made into a frilly femine outfit with wide skirts that seems entirely in keeping with the evidence of her other items seen at the parsonage ,but at odds with her alleged lack of fashion sense or desire for fashionable or pretty clothing.


Charlotte is often mistaken for her most famouse Heroine Jane Eyre but she wasnt ever Jane in regard to Janes taste in clothing ,the contrast between Janes almost puritan plane wedding outfit and Charlottes with its elaborately trimmed frilled and trimmed bonnet and tiered skirt shows that very clearly

The styles of gown

we have three definate gowns of Charlottes ,the Paisely gown,the going away gown and the Thackery gown.We also have one other confirmed gown ,her wedding gown which thoughg destroyed we have an eye witness recollection of and also Charlottes description of the fabric,this is the replica created using those .

Charlotte Bronte replica wedding dress

Charlotte Bronte muslin dress

1854 CBronte going-away dress

cb v

we also have a bodice or corset cover or under bodice ,which I feel belongs to a barege gown,this has a lace  neckline trim so its possible it went under a wide necked gown and the trim was supposed to be visible .

Corset covers were fitted undergarments that went on top of corsets ,these often come up for sale online as “Victorian blouses or tops” because they are fitted and often have pretty necklines.Under bodices are plain coloured bodices that go under a thin gown fabric.Though the neckline is trimmed its not expensive lace or a deep trim so this was probably  a day time bodice

bodice cb

along the same lines there are chemisettes or modesty panels and sleeves this style would need a lower neckline gown maybe a v neck or scoop neck ,while the sleeves would have to go under a dress sleeve that was wide enough and high enough to fit them under it.They also clearly need attaching to something to keep them up ,I would sometimes pin them to an inner loop of gowns or in winter to a longer sleeved chemise

chemisette_engageantes cb

Gowns that would be worn with a chemisette and /or undersleeves .Its interesting an almost identical gown to this was used in the TV production “To Walk Invisible ”


The style below also has sleeves wide enough for the undersleeves

download (1)

cb 5

There are also several bits and pieces of gowns that are probably parts of an outfit that composed of a skirt,with one or two matching bodices,that had removable collars and sleeves

Lace collars ,lace cuffs and removable trims such as bows or cuffs and pieces of trim

Shawls in a variety of colours and fabrics ,parasols and bonnets feature extensively in the Parsonage collection and in writings .Charlotte had far more than mere necessity required she like to match her accessories to her outfits


images (4)

Images above and below are from


The bonnet is incredibly detailed and it was probably quite expensive ,its charlottes wedding bonnet ,but weddding clothing was still expected to be reused ,theres also another pretty bonnet seen above and assorted trimmings .

We also have enough other items to piece together other likely ensembles

Carriage parasols ,evening slippers ,silk fans and gloves

ivory fan


So here is my  imaginary Charlotte collection, using the preferred styles ,the preferred fabrics and the likely colours of gowns for which accessories still exist.These are not existing Bronte gowns they are my interpretation of what fabrics ,bows  and trims may have created.

Day gown ,this dress immediately struck me as a Charlotte gown,its tailored in a way she would have liked and striped like the going away gown ,while its a place brown and fawn ,cream ,brown and fawn feature quite extensivily in the Parsonage collections for fabrics and shawls

grey b.jpg

These bows are from the Parsonage collection

fawn bow

cream silk and nacy bow with pearl button cb

images (4)

perhaps with the bonnet above

The gown below is also slightly later the the colour seems a very good match for the likely colour of the going away gown and though it was striped lengthways the pattern is also similar ,the going away gown bodice front was pleated but also had contrasting (possibly gilt) trim at the neck and waist .That gown was in two parts and quite elaborately constructed perhaps so the bodice could be swopped out for an short sleeved bodice when she arrived at her destination


This is the very outer edge of the time when Charlotte lived ,but the pattern is very similar to fabric pieces at the Parsonage and the style like that of the wedding gown .

Her Paisley gown is made of gossamer thin fabric so finely woven as to feel almost weightless in your hands and with a subtle patterned weave  it would have been an expensive fabric  and beautifully stitched .So I decided tlo add this as a style Charlotte might have considered for her trousseau ,or to wear when she was visiting or staying with wealthy friends


I chose the design partly because it reminded me of one of Charlottes Parsoles (she had several which is in itself interesting ,a woman who didnt care about fashion wouldnt have more than one parasol ,one is a carriage parasol so she clearly also bought specific items specially for specific functions,much like the black satin evening slippers another luxury item as satin slippers were an almost disposable item as were  evening gloves because they damaged and dirtied easily but were impossible to clean without them looking slightly tatty .


At the parsonage are several pieces of a semi transparent fabric called barage it was very fashionable during the time Charlotte was paying visits to London or to wealthy friends ,One recollection of the Thackery dinner describes Charlotte as wearing a Barege gown similar to the colours of gown fragments at the parsonage ,the gown below is a fairly close match to the fabric fragments I examined

barage gown

While not the same fabric this is another barage gown  which shows how semi transparent the fabric is

barage gown

This gown was about the closest I came to finding a match for the style of Charlottes wedding gown ,a similar parasol exists in the parsonages collection

14. SLEEVES Ruffled 1845-50 tiered printed muslin.jpg

my next to last gown is a huge leap with no real proof ,Charlotte had opera gloves,which she would need unless she was wearing a short sleeved gown .She also had black satin evening slippers which could only be worn for somewhere inside where she wouldnt need waterproof or even thick soled shoes and she went to several dinners so I am creating her this outift which is also barage and would be perfect for the assorted black lace items she owned and the black evening shoes,but is still plain enough not to stand out too much it also looks very likely to have once had matching attachable ,long sleeves and very possibly a matching and attachable collar /shawl top that covered the shoulders of the dress and created a day time outift

And finally Charlottes about the house dressing gown,maybe even created to wear during the early stages of her marriage and pregnancy the pretty pink frilled wrapper dress,I found this on Etsy which is an almost perfect match for the colour and pattern size though with leaves rather than the spots on the Bronte Wrapper gown but the neckline is much later  and Charlottes had an additional little tie on cape ,also frilled



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City gardens and gardens as rooms .

It’s not uncommon to read or hear of gardens designed as a series of rooms ,it’s a tradition going back to the early years of the last century and most famously seen at Sissinghurst.I have always liked the idea but w hat I have never seen mentioned though is the idea of treating the garden designed as a series of rooms in much the same way you treat your house ,just as there are parts of your house more private than others ,some that belong specifically to each member of the household and some which are purely functional so I feel the “rooms “of your garden ought to be divided into private and public and those which are partly functional such as dinning “rooms” and some which are purely functional such as the greenhouse ,potting shed etc,though these dont necessarily need to be drab but unless you have the budget for an orangery or wood framed greenhouse and use wood seed trays and terracotta pots and amphora or  oak barrel water troughs,its likely they will be the least attractive part of the garden .

traditionally greenhouses etc go in  the back garden ,however as to me as these places are the ones you spend comparatively little time relaxing in and are the places your most likely to be unconcerned about being seen it makes more sense to put them in the front were you can talk to neighbours ,keep an eye out for deliveries and more easily carry bags of compost etc to the greenhouse from the car and water plants more easily .Often the dust bins have to be stored somewhere close to the front of the house so using the same area for a greenhouse etc isnt loosing much aesthetically .It’s possible to use planters to shield much from view from the road or path past the house .This also encourages tidy habits as any clutter is much more likely to be seen.My own utilitarian spaces are at the front and side of the house.

For the rest of the garden I am creating areas to eat or sit in that can be used at each time of the day ,the front garden gets morning sun as does the back house wall while later the side “courtyard gets su8n and lastly the top of the garden .I also wanted areas  of increasing privacy or perceived privacy with the places close to the house being family spaces while those further away allowed for individual  quite times .while the ideal garden is one that’s entirely private in all its parts and has a range of secluded spots  and more social spaces this is unlikely to be achievable in a town or city garden or in any garden that’s not quite large it’s still possible however to create small niches of privacy. You need to take a chair and sit at each corner of your garden then look around 360 to see how many windows overlook the spot and if any gate or door also overlooks it .It’s still possible to have a private quiet spot.My back storage bench is right next to the house but you can’t be seen from our main livingroom because the seat is directly under the window /While my front bench backs onto the public path past the house but isnt visible from most passers-by once the two planters are full in summer.


Like houses I wanted a garden living and dinning space for everyone to share  with a good view  and which was for the most part shielded from passers-by.

back lower patiuoo hedge view

and some smaller spaces that appeal to each of us specifically.I also wanted these spaces to be “decorated” in  different ways reflecting perhaps rooms of our minds .

I wanted several spots in the garden to be invisible from the house so that they were somewhere quiet to sit away from the phone and were you were able to relax unseen ,for the woodland garden I also wanted it to be easy to sit quietly to watch wildlife ,so far I havent totally achieved this but by next summer two areas ,the woodland and “tropical ” garden  should be quite secluded visible from the house only from the back bedroom window.

Most town gardens and indeed most gardens anywhere will be overlooked by at least one neighbour or roadway  but most can be made to seem secluded and private ,choosing where to place seating makes a big difference ,while the arbour in the woodland garden looks pleasant and seems like it must be a quiet secluded spot.

bacl artbour spring

It’s actually apart  from the front fence the least private spot in the garden as it’s raised above street level and currently theres a direct view from both the front drive and front road .

back birch arbour

its also visible from both side neighbours and from one of the back neighbours windows as can be seen in the photo above .Its also visible from all but two rooms in the house and tends to draw the ey as its been placed there as a focal point

garden back tree part spring


,however just a few feet away in the woodland garden is the most private part of the garden ,sheilded by a hedge one side ,high trees at the back and shrubs at the outer edge its only viisble from ours and one neighbours  upper window and its possible to sit there facing the woods surroned by trees  and feel as though your in the middle of the woods.

back woodland garden view toards arbour

There is a corresponding spot in the tropical corner.

back tropic garden view toqwards woods

Both still need a lot of planting and work to be perfect but The tropical corner will also eventually be private from being overlooked on three sides and from the house ,though the plan has always been that it will be clearly viewed from the bottom patio ,having a separate seating area in this part of the garden means that you can sit apart from but not isolated from anyone using the patio but when the patio is empty be entirely private ,I plan envetunaly on working out seating so that I can incorporate a table so I can eat here as in summer in the hottest parts of the day its a pleasant shaded spot while in winter  once the hedge has grown its shielded from most of the winds that blow across the garden .

top table view

A further personal space is planned for the top “patio ” which until a few months  back housed are sorry looking large shed ,it’s currently  exposed to both the winds and sun and to the houses backing onto our back garden one of which uses the part backing onto out fence as their main seating area ,while it also overlooked and next door neighbours seating areas .Using the space  for seating at present would be needlessly invasive but it its a lovely sunny spot which once shielded from the wind will be quite cosy even on cold days  so I am quite keen to provide some tree cover for it to make it an almost entirely enclosed space with views only to the woodland at the back of the house and the woodland garden .

The garden rooms should also hark back to the days when english houses had breakfast rooms to catch the morning sun and their drawing rooms were placed to get evening sun.  Our garden is lucky in that it receives sunlight somewhere from dawn until dusk ,while at night  the back is pleasantly dark  (unsualy for a city)the front is quite well lit by a street light so its the perfect place to let the dogs out or use for storing things that need trips in the dark  eg bins.At some point I hope to work out a plan that allows me to utilise this free garden lighting to create a social space for eating at the front but thats a long term project .

Just as there need to be private spaces I also feel gardens are social spaces you want to be able to talk to and see family to see neighbours passing or have guests in ,I plan primarily to use the lower parts of the current lawn and the patio for this .

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The low or no sew guide to making a regency or Jane Austen era outfit for those unable to sew

 emma regency bonnet


The Regency is an era that ought to be very easy to replicate and to some extent this is true ,but there are a number of finer details in Regency costuming that merely buying a long straight dress and shrug don’t address .

If you are not able to create a costume from scratch or even follow  one of my cheats guides on quick  and easy to make costumes then the key to giving a more authentic feel to an outfit is to make it’s as layered and complex as possible with as many accessories as is reasonable .The extra accessories need not cost much, under 10 pounds might easily buy  ,a fan ,a little bag or reticule, and a spencer or shawl  and possibly even a fake parasol

,For another £ 10 a hat to make into a bonnet and some trims ,or for £30 a ready made bonnet can be bought .The result is that each individual item isnt seen alone but as part of an overall effect ,its possible to create a very authentic effect with carefully chosen modern  and vintage items and virtually no sewing .Though I made the dress I am wearing,my daughters ivory dress was a vintage bridesmaid dress with some trims added its looked just as good as a made to order reproduction dress as the Regency was used as inspiration for quite a lot of vintage wedding outfits ,Its moire taffeta and had short sleeves and a square neckline.It zipped up but the main part of the zip is hidden by the little jacket ,which was also a modern jacket cut off at waist level .The boonet is a bought replica but was quite cheap .My outfit also used a modern cropped off jacket and a hat I made ,both  the outfits below could be created with  little or no sewing and quite cheaply.My daugthers ivory and brown outfit cost less than £15 ,if the bonnet is excluded ,but that includes the little bag ,parasol jacket,a fan and the dress.If I hadnt sewn the trim on there is only 5 mins of  rough hand sewing to hem the jacket

jane Austen festival

This post repeats some parts of my other posts on making underlayers,accessories etc ,so I have provided links to those full posts for anyone who is able to do a small amount of stitching

This post is aimed at those with absolutely no Regency or costuming knowledge so I will for the most part keep to overall styles and start with a short description of the items that are needed or which would be good to have, in order to give a better look to the outfit.

I will work from the the under layers outwards.



For under a gown you need something to give the same shape,so a balconette type bra and a long straight underskirt or something similar.I will go into more detail on this furher down the post But in general this era doesnt need any special corsets or underwear .


Regency shoes were often very like modern ballet pumps

late regency

shoes 1

Regency womens boots only went to ankle height and were very like the modern pixie boots

A   chemisette which is a little under blouse

This is entirely optional but useful if your dress  neckline is very low , one can easily be made by cutting upa blouse.



A fichu

This is a fine cotton ,or lace little shawl ,though the outfit below is earlier than the one we are creating fichus were still worn with higher waisted gowns ,they are handy to cover up a bodice thats not very authentic looking .


A dress

yellow dress v and a

A spencer  ,which is a little short jacket

red specner breeze

A shawl

regency shawl 1

regency shawl

A fan

ivory fan

A reticule or bag

Below is a matching spencer and reticule made from a modern jacket

spencer guide and bags

possibly lace  or wool  finger less mittens,a lace collar or tippet

This is a later collar but very similar styles were worn during the Regency era


A variety of these layers can be seen on these outfits


24 days of Christmas fashion - 1st 6 with dates



Extra options

a hairpiece or a little round cap to cover up short hair

This is an earlier era,but the little ringlet hair piece is a perfect Regency style


This is another earlier style and not a very clear image but it shows the back of a little round cap and how you could hide your lack of long hair under it.


the cap is actually a small round lace edged vintage doily or mat

sacq back back


a bonnet or hat

While everyone associates bonnets with the regency a little hat like the one below could also be worn .Its possible to buy most regency bonnets or hats ready made or improvise with a modern hat

The cheats costume guide ,A very easy and quick Regency bonnet or hat

green bon

a parasol or small umbrella

This doesnt have to be usable ,sometimes you can buy damaged antique parasols very cheaply,but if your going to be outside then a parasol which can be used as an umbrella is very handy ,Its possible to buy reproduction modern lace parasols for between 10 and 20 pounds and they are decorative enough to look nice afterwards or keep their value at resale on auction sites.


a muff

This is a later era ,but a similar or larger muff would look good with a regency outfit


lace ,fur or feather tippets,,,like narrow short scarfs

There are instructions for making all of these accessories in my cheats guide post here.Some need small amounts of sewing but some can be made within  minutes with no sewing at all,for example to make a no sew muff ,cut off the sleeves of a suitable coat,put your arm into it and pull the cut end into the inside,then pull the cuff end over that ,so you have a tube of fabric,,now thread a long piece of cord or ribbon or a gold chain etc through the tube to make something to hang it round your neck with,maybe add a brooch for an evening muff.Depending on what coat or jacket you use you can have a satin evening muff  or a fur winter one


The main item

A dress that will pass for an early 19thc Regency gown

This isnt as hard as it might seem if you have enough time to look.Below are several vintage Laura Ashley dresses and all except the low waisted blue spotty one would make perfect Regency gown


By Mabalu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

While there are still many 1960s weddding  or evening dresses to be found cheaply which quite closely follow the shapes of Regency gowns


There are usually a few to be found on line on sites such as ebay or if you have enough time then visiting charity shops will eventually turn up a suitable dress fairly cheaply as these style have not yet become as sought after as the 1940s and 1950s outfits

The dress has to have a high waist,,just under your bust .It also must be long enough to reach at least your ankles and ideally a little bit longer so it skims the floor and it has to be a plain natural fabric ,but otherwise most other things such as modern trims,zips, modern tailoring etc can be covered up .

Though my dress was an accurate style very little but the skirt is visible once I have the other layers on

jane austen bath.jpg

If you cant find any long enough gowns its possible to wear an under layer that shows below the dress to give a two layered gown impression but this is tricky .

The skirts need to be straight ,not bias cut or too floaty ,many regency gowns had flowing skirts but were constructed so the fullness was at the back ,the front of the gowns always looks flat ,modern gowns need to have this flat front and sides.

It should ideally have either short puff sleeves or narrow elbow length ones.


If possible your dress should have a  low square neckline or a  low round one,a v neckline isnt entirely inaccurate but was uncommon and it is  hard to create a correct impression with  or to match with a spencer or chemisette .A high neckline is ok though it’s not often that high-necked dresses appear . Often 1960s dresses have wide necklines which are not suitable but by adding a fichu or spencer you can cover this up.

You need fabrics which will look authentic ,shiny satins are not suitable,or floaty chiffon layers.Mat satin,silks cottons ,taffeta ,velvet and wool are all good choices.

This gown worn on the red carpet by Natalie Portman is a excellent example of a vintage gown that would work .

yellow reg dress

Below is an actual regency gown for comparison.Once the modern gown had a little spencer jacket and shawl the tell tale neckline and sleeves would be hidden.

yellow dress v and a

Below are  images of several Regency gowns in different styles ,which I thought might be a useful guide when searching for your own gown



reg pai

reg pi

regency ball gown

reg g

red ls d red

reg wh

reg bl

reg p p

reg c

reg d red

reg bro

reg 3

reg rou

reg gr

Other essentials


you will almost certainly have your feet showing under the gown so the correct shoes are essential ,luckily many Regency shoes were more or less the same as our modern dance pumps and satin ballet shoes can be bought very cheaply online or from dance suppliers,Irish dancing shoes are another good alternative .

Even easier to find are the  fashionable Ballerina flat shoes ,these are a more modern shape but are also much more practical to wear for outdoor events and can be worn after the event for everyday living as opposed to only being used once.If you have an Asian clothing store near to you a trip there will usually produce a beautiful pair of shoes ,the ones below were under ten pounds and though an earlier style ,shoes in a regency style with similar detailing can also be bought


of suede or soft leather flat  very plain thin soled ankle boots that lace or button up,(r have a hidden zip which gives the impression of either lacing or button fastenings)

With these a pair of either fairly thick white or black tights or stockings are best ,flesh coloured isnt at all authentic ,other coloured stockings existed but were not often worn

A fan

If you will be in costume for any length of time and especially indoors or in summer a fan is very useful for keeeping cool ,but is an extreemly cheap way to create a more authentic effect.Cheap cotton fans can be bought from china for very little more than one up pound ,plain black is by far the easiest colour to match and to give the right impression ,but plain ivory or white will also work or very dark blue ,bright colours are much less effective.Avoid modern feather or lace fans these are not accurate.Occasionaly very pretty vintage or antique victorian fans can be bought for a few pounds if they are less than perfect

An outer layer

reg shrt sp

reg gr spen

Even if your going to be indoors if your not going to have an accurate gown then adding a spencer or a shawl or preferably both is the perfect way to hide the bodice of a modern gown while also adding to the overall effect.Spencers were little cropped jackets that went over gowns,sometimes for outside wear and to provide warmth but also for indoors and for effect rather than function.

reg br sp

Theres a very quick and easy guide to making a Spencer here ,though the “making “only involves cutting off a jacket and  doing a few inches of stitching so its possible for most people .In addition to using velvet or wool and thicker blouse could be cropped to make a summery spencer or indoor spencer ,

The cheats guide to making a very easy Regency Spencer (short jacket )

Its unlikely you will find anything suitable but occasionally full length wedding or evening coats appear on ebay or in charity shops and if so then a pellise or full length coat would be a great addition or could be used instead of a dress

reg pe




If theres no possibility of any sewing then you may be lucky enough to find a short-cropped jacket or an Asian saree blouse ,but if not then a good quality shawl would be almost as effective .Regency shawls were long and rectangular ,not square like Victorian shawls .They also only had fringes along their ends not along their full length.Silk or wool or paisley printed cotton or wool would all be suitable.The size is more important than the fabric  ,shawls were long and large a very plain modern fashion pashmina in ivory or black or pastel colours is perfect .

If you cant make or find a spencer  or shawl you could help create a more authentic feel by adding a layer under the gown ,a chemisette which would show under the gown at the neckline,these can sometimes be found cheaply online ,on sites such as ebay ,but are incredibly cheap and easy to make,,all you need is a pretty  cream or white blouse that s fairly thin fabric  ,you cut the blouse off at below bust level and cut off the sleeves,theres no need to do any sewing .Now you put this on like a blouse but under your dress.

Belts and sashes

To help give a more authentic feel to a simple prom ,wedding or bridesmaid gown you could attach a belt or sash ,this would also be useful to give a more defined waist level .


To create an accurate outfit you need accurate underwear,this is easier for the Regency era than for many others but still needs consideration

The ideal underwear would be a balconette style bra as this creates the same rough shape as many regency stays .Failing that a underwired bra .

You need an invisible panties layer ,and some tights or stockings

over this you need a long thin layer ,a underskirt ,its best not to use a waist slip ,these wont make the dress hang properly and will create a waistline under it,a strappy very thin cotton or silk nightdress would work or you could make a simple chemise using my cheats guide .This does need some sewing but not much ,you just fold a piece of fabric in half along its longest edge ,sew it together  for at least part of its length and add two straps,you can get away with less than a yard of stitching along the edge then just the stitching of the straps,though you could safety pin on the straps

Making a chemise,Medieval ,Tudor,18th century and Victorian

On top of these place a chemisette if you have one

Then your gown

then a ,collar ,sash or belt if your wearing any of these

Then add a spencer and /or a tippet or shawl.

A fan

A little bag or reticule

If you will be outside you will need an hat or bonnet,I have instructions for a very easy Regency bonnet or hat here,but a bought bonnet base is not too expensive and all that needs adding to them is a very long piece of ribbon for the ties ,this can be glued on but stitches are better and it only takes a few minutes to secure them .

Inside you could wear a little cap ,a tiara if your at a evening event,or a few feathers or flowers .

Make up needs to be as natural as possible and your hair needs to be in an up do,if its isnt long then pulling it back off your face under a little lace cap will hide that ,or brush it back and add a hair piece ,you need a hair piece with some curls ,rather than a plain plait or bun.I have provided some regency images to help choose all these items.

As will all cheats guides its essential to first know what you want to replicate and what you need to do it ,so I have provided some images at the very start of this post





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Richard III the true King in the North


Let’s begin by making something crystal clear.

Leicester was never home to King Richard III. Nor was he Leicester’s king. In his lifetime, Leicester was no more than one of the many places he passed through on the way somewhere else in his realm.

Leicester is only the place his abused corpse was returned after Bosworth, buried in a too short grave without even a shroud, hands probably still tied, and forgotten about for more than 500 years. Forgotten about until outsiders came with money in hand raised from Ricardians all over the world, outsiders who proposed looking for his remains. Previous requests had been denied, but this time around Leicester’s mayor was on the look-out for one-time investments that had the potential for a large return on that investment.

In 2015 Leicester was the site of a week-long celebration of their continuing possession of King Richard’s skeleton. Opinion is still divided about whether these events accomplished anything other than drawing attention to Leicester. And despite which, a recent survey of Leicester residents revealed that a significant portion had no idea that King Richard’s remains are interred there.

Some Ricardians believe that there was little honour or dignity shown when King Richard’s skeleton was taken in an outlandish parade back to the site of his dreadful death, only to be returned to a spot in the city very close to where it left on parade; returned on a refurbished farm cart, the coffin covered in nothing more than a tea towel sized piece of murrey and blue. Nothing to mark that these were the remains of an anointed King of England. To be re-interred under the floor of a space which still displays the Royal Arms sideways, with a 21st century monument made up to reflect the modern views of a church whose vision of Christianity is not Richard’s own.


It is thus distressing to see that the National Portrait Gallery has swallowed Leicester’s PR and decided to send its familiar portrait of King Richard to Leicester as part of its “coming home project.”


One would expect an institution like the NPG to be knowledgeable about the paintings it possesses and what they represent, and hope that they would be more respectful of the king who did, of necessity, actually live in London, and spent over the course of his lifetime much more time there than he ever did in Leicester. It looks very much as if PR has triumphed over historical accuracy, not to mention the particular sensitivities involved in this particular re-interment. This is especially poignant with respect to King Richard whose good reputation earned by hard work during his lifetime has been thoroughly degraded by centuries of propaganda.

After the NPG announced its “Coming Home” project on July 26, 2018, many people wrote to protest sending King Richard’s portrait to Leicester with the idea that it was “coming home.” This is one of the letters sent.

‪I understand that the portrait you have of King Richard III at the National Gallery is being sent to Leicester as part of his “Home coming”. I would like to remind the Gallery that Leicester was NEVER the home to Richard III. Home was in Yorkshire. He was anointed king of England and as such should have his portrait in London in the National Gallery where it belongs.‬

‪Please do not make such an error. ‬

Those who wrote all seem to have received the same reply —

‪Thank you for contacting the National Portrait Gallery. Your constructive feedback is much appreciated, and I shared your comments with relevant colleagues across the Gallery.‬
‪The Coming Home project will allow the National Portrait Gallery to loan portraits of iconic individuals to places across the country with which they are closely associated. In some cases, this will be their home town, but in others there will be a different connection. The partner organisations have been carefully selected and in the case of Richard III, it was felt to be particularly appropriate to lend the Gallery’s posthumous portrait, dating from the late sixteenth century, to a city that has brought the question of the king’s posthumous reputation to a global audience, following the discovery of his remains and their reinternment [sic] in Leicester Cathedral in 2015. This built on interest in relics and sites associated with Richard in the city and country that have been promoted since at least the early nineteenth century. The Gallery has been in dialogue with the New Walk museum over several years about the possibility of lending the portrait and the Coming Home project has given the ideal opportunity. We are hopeful that displaying the portrait in Leicester will allow audiences to consider the way in which Richard’s reputation was shaped after his death by the Tudors and subsequent generations.‬
‪I can confirm that your constructive feedback will be used in our ongoing discussions regarding our national programme of events, partnerships and loaned works.‬

This canned reply demonstrates just how far Leicester’s self-promotion has displaced any accurate understanding of how King Richard’s remains were recovered and who had been responsible for that effort. It also fails to acknowledge that Leicester has done very little to restore King Richard’s reputation to that which he enjoyed in his own lifetime. The phrase about allowing audiences to “‪consider the way in which Richard’s reputation was shaped after his death by the Tudors and subsequent generations‬” likewise inspires no confidence, since it echoes the self-serving words of the Leicester clergy who approved the disrespectful performance of Shakespeare’s defamatory play in close proximity to the current burial location of the King’s remains. Nor does the NPG’s response give any evidence of materials provided with the portrait that would encourage a more educated view of the man portrayed.

By June 2019, when the press releases were made about the opening of the exhibition in Leicester the message had changed to claim that the Coming Home Project was sending iconic portraits to the places the individuals were most closely associated with. This again demonstrates no more than the triumph of Leicester’s PR, since it is only Richard’s remains that have ever been “associated” with the city where they were re-interred, as one columnist in the Telegraph noted at the time, according to the “rites of tourism.”

The press release by Leicester City Council at least was headlined “Portrait of King to go on show in city of his resting place.”

3 days later, however, the piece from BBC News Leicester reported “Odd’ Richard III portrait ‘coming home’ to Leicester.” In this the reporter seems to have been particularly impressed with the fact that the “image is frequently used on Richard III-related merchandise.”

To the North King Richard is not a marketing opportunity but a good and merciful  King of undoubted piety and with a deep sense of justice. He is our King, he will always be the North’s only true king – the only ruler ever to have lived among us and valued us.

The city of York the day after Bosworth wrote

King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was through great treason . . . piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city,’

(recorded by  the mayor’s serjeant of the mace)

York city’s records bear witness still to this fact, our loyalty is unchanged and despite clever and determined marketing Leicester cannot manufacture a history for Richard in its midst that involves anything but tragedy and degradation.

Richard III ought  to lie at rest in York Minister, a place he knew and had established a chantry which many believe he intended to be his and his family’s mausoleum. He should lie among lands where he had lived and loved and where he was in turn loved.

That he doesn’t is a tragedy and an embarrassment. That our so called National Portrait Gallery will disregard history  and spurn the very real objections of Ricardians and those of us in the north who have raised objections in order to write the north out of the History of King Richard’s life is unpardonable.

The north has always remembered Richard III as Good King Richard. It has always respected his memory and treasured his legacy. We always will.



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The DWP and me ,lies,more lies and damned lies.


If you are reading this ,it is probably because you have had the misfortune to be invovled with the DWP and ATOS.
Perhaps you have been refused PIP or ESA ,or had your award revoked.
This will without doubt be your “fault”.Because you have been honest and open and helpful ,if you hadnt DWP would not have had the evidence of your “typical day” or interview to hold against you .It is overwhelmingly the honest ,the less well off and those who are trying to overcome their disabilties who end up loosing PIP .

I would imagine that you are probably not wealthy .For the wealthy and /or those willing to be economical with the truth its not hard to get your benefits renewed . Just have legal advice filling out the paperwork and later to attend the assesment .I dont wish to imply everyone who automatically gets their claims passed lies ,it is my experinece that with an honest ATOS assesor and DWP impartial decision maker it can go smoothly ,But that takes luck both of those are thin on the ground .

Our current system favours the rich and the dishonest,it bases its information on your own description of a typical day and uses the lack of witnesses and the lack of familiarity with its legal requirments to manufactor reasons for refusing you the money to which you are entitled.

It is an established fact  many ATOS assesors lie ,omitte evidence or misrepresent it.They only do so where they know it is your word ,or you and your relative or friends word against theirs,turning up with a solictor would I imagine make that unlikely.
The goverment holds us the disabled in nothing but contempt ,it assumes we are stupid and lazy .It also assumes we feel ashamed of having to claim benefits and that ,if pressured  we will give up .

What happens to us then ,when robbed by our goverment of what we have paid to recieve ,no one in power really cares.

Yet ,you and I should not be ashamed ,we are not begging or asking for charity ,we are asking the goverment to honour its committments ,it is the goverment who ought to be ashamed .

All our working lives  we have paid  the goverment ,in Taxes and in national insurance  ,money that for decades  the goverment has taken off us ,it  claimed this was to benefit us in ill health and our old age .Yet like every dishonest insurance company it was happy to take but not to honour its promises, it has renaged on its commitments .We therefore need to hold it to account ,this winnowing out of those who have paid into the state but now need it to pay out started with us,but it has also begun to target those due pensions and those who have children .We are the watchmen on the wall if we do not hold the DWP,ATOS and the goverment to account then its dishonesty and callousness will create a society of which every UK citizen will be ashamed and they will live in fear of illness and old age.

You would not be ashamed of claiming for your house insurance if there was a disaster or your car insurance if there was an accident ,National insurance is by its very name a form of insurance and yours by right.Even if you nolonger pay,your family does, your friends do and though the goverment holds the purse strings ,its those peoples money and no one seriously feels the sick and disabled should be cold and hungry .
Perhaps this is a new experience and you have just fallen into the benefits abyss ,if so you are about to have some fairly depressing suprises.

Perhaps you  assume your goverment cares about you ,it does not. Perhaps you assume civil servants and goverment works are all honest and well meaning . While its been my unfailing experience that “front line staff” in Job centers or council offices are kind and understanding and honest ,this isnt everyones experience and my experience of its office staff ,the so called decision makers who decide PIP claims is almost uniformally bad .

You should not assume honesty on the part of  DWP  employees ,it has been my experience that lying is endemic .Of my current DWP decision makers 3 out of 3 lied .They lied in ways that are impossible to attribute to anything but wilful deceit ,they claimed to have read the ATOS assesors report then manufactored parts of its contents and withled others.They even lied about DWPs own records ,claiming they checked and benefits I claimed to recieve I didnt .
By a strange dicotomy ,they will assume you are dishonest ,but see your honest account of your typical day as stupid because it gives them excuses to stop your claim ,they assume like all the habitually dishonest that telling the truth when it is going to be used against you is not proof of intergrity but of stupidy .

Nor should you assume they have any decency or compassion ,they are not interested in how ill you are ,or in fairness or natural justice.They have no medical training ,they are trained solely to asses if the goverment can refuse to pay you .They will go through your files ,write a few lines refusing your claim ,then go off to lunch to laugh and joke with friends ,they  travel home ,spend time with their families and sleep well at night and wake up warm with full stomachs ,ready go to work the next day ready to ruin more lives.

The lies
Medical evidence is essential to get to the stage of being assesed and having it gives  DWP less excuse not to pay you ,but DWP makes clear to its decision makers that they can ignore all and any medical evidence if their decision makers “opinions” differ from the doctors .Its speciffically targets your GPs as sources of evidence that should be ignored whenever possible.

Do not assume input from consultants or GPs ,nurses ,etc will ensure your claim succeeds.

DWP told my MP that it didnt matter if I was disabled ,but only if my disabilty affected my life.What they didnt say was that a DWP decision maker with no medical training decides the impact on my life .”based on the balance of probabilities”

DWP mislead people into gathering more and more medical evidence and will try to discredit it where possible,for the most banal reasons ,for example they asked one of my fit notes be ignored because I was “new to the surgery ” (,,I had been there 11 months.But what is far more important than medical evidence is that you gather multi source positive proof of the impact of your disabilties on your daily life.If you are going to a tribunal you should also gather evidence  of your character and to safe guard any existing points.DWP specifically wrote that it wanted the tribunal to uphold its award of no points in certain areas and to reasses wether I deserved the points it had awarded me.

Do not go to a tribunal assuming you dont need evidence for your existing points.There are very few examples of tribunals removing points awarded by DWP but I would imagine in those cases it was because the claiment didnt realise it would need evidence to support existing points.
Its also essential you keep records  of absolutly everything ,DWP lie ,assume they will lie about everything and you will need to produce evidence of even the most obviouse things.

On the day of my assesment I couldnt have anyone present ,but if you can you should and ideally an independent advocate or solictor etc.I dont know if it would have helped but if I had savings I would have paid to have a witness present .Its not probably cost effective if you only get a basic award,but if you have the full award and a car etc that needs the PIP award it might be a worthwile investment .
I took photographs on the day of how I looked minutes before the assesor arrived ,of the evidence I had laid out in the room and of the layout of the hall and room .
This was easier because I had a home assesment ,but you can take photos of your appareance ,of any   person who has given you a lift,,I guess that would need a selfie ,of your transport and distance to the assesment ,perhaps the friend could record you going up stairs etc ,wheelchair use etc,take one of the assesment centers frontage ,stairs etc.
I am not sure of the current legal position but I think its still possible to apply to have the asesment taped.
Even if you do ,still take photos ,use a digital camera etc with a time and date stamp ,maybe download them into private online folders so there can be no possible way to claim you took them earlier or later etc.I also took photos of my hands which are badly damaged ,so they could say it was better on the day than I claimed

If the assesor claims as mine did that you look well ,not tired and well dressed but you looked ill and unkempt you have proof ,This discredits the very basics and helps discredit the report ,while you might not be able to prove you cried in the assesment or couldnt do certain excerises  that the assesor claims you could easily perform,if you can prove the report is lying in some parts its more likely you will be believed about other parts you dispute.

More Lies

DWP habitually seem to “loose” letters and paperwork ,my decision makers claimed to have no records of several things they had been sent .But I had proof.
Take photos of every letter you recieve and every letter you send,try to get your own letters signed by a witness to prove you sent them and the number of pages you sent etc .
Never post anything by normal post ,send it signed for and ideally tracked ,the only letter I sent normal post ,though I got proof of postage ,was never replied to .

DWP often “mislay” correspondence .When some things such as the appeal to a tribunal have time limits ,claiming ot have not recieved something can mean your claim is written off and you have no proof to show you tried to appeal.The responsibilty to ensure your paperwork is present and correct lies with you and just doing things right wont help if you cant prove you did.
Record the times of any phone calls ,you cant legally record calls ,but I took photographs of my phone connecting to DWP ,I dont know if this would be seen as proof but it would make it harder to deny I called.
Be as brief as possible over the telephone ,tell them you want everything done on paper ,,I had an excuse because I live without a landline.The DWP will try to limit what you request is reassesed ,say  you want everything  reassesed and also that your still gathering evidence but dont be specific.Try to get your ATOS assesment report,I had all my requests ignored .But the important thing is that you need things on paper DWP cannot be trusted .

Damned lies
My own experience
I have had three assesments by ATOS ,one in 2016 and that was a fair and honest assesment with a helpful and truthful ATOS assesor .I was awarded PIP for 2 years ,because I have flucating conditions and because I have chronic degenerative conditions .
Since them my health has worsened.
I had an ESA assesment in 2016 ,this was an altogether different experience.The assesor was polite and seemed understanding ,but clearly had absolutly no idea about some of my health isssues,for instance she openly said she had no idea what my form of Epilpesy was and she would look it up afterwards,(in light of what she wrote on her assesment I can only assume she typed in something completly different) .She asked when I “strapped on my shin splint” .(this is not an aid its a condition).She also didnt seem to know where the sacro illyac joint is  or what it does ,she assumed it only involved typical back movments ,such as forward bending  .She had no idea what some aspects of my hand problems meant and misrepresented my fleeing domestic voilence ,she claimed I said I was “a bit stressed as I am moving house”.
Her report contained lies so blatent that DWP overturned it at their own mandatory review ,when I asked for their paperwork part of the  DWP decision makers report started using someone elses name part way through it and seemed likely to be describing someone elses condition .I suspect this was also why it was overturned .I had to appeal to a tribunal to see my full DWP paperwork ,this seems to be standard ,I didnt see my recent ATOS assesors report until I appealed to a tribunal .I only got an inkling that my recent PIP award had been based on lies by DWP when I complained to ATOS and discovered the ATOS assesor had infact recorded things in her report DWP denied existed .

I am fairly certain that despite factual errors and mistakes and misinterpation of some aspects of my health problems had my ATOS assesors report been honestly assessed by the decision makers I would never have lost PIP it was sufficient for at least  basic level award and probably for the full awards,I think this is clear by their need to lie about its contents and to repeatedly lie even to the tribunal .I assumed ATOS lied ,but actually most lies were told by DWP.

I therefore urge everyone to complain about everything with which they are unhappy,otherwise you not only have no evidence you disagree with DWP and /or ATOS but you cant be certain of who is lying .In my case I complained to ATOS that my assesor had lied and had omitted information ,their response gave me evidence to use against DWP because it clearly showed DWP to be lying.
I took photos of  letters I sent ,of evidence I sent and in the paperwork sent to the tribunal its clear  that though DWP recorded recieving things sent by registered post ,they were vague about what some letters contained where the contents would affect their claims /lies.SO you need photos or a witness.
For example I sent actual medication ,not advisable but as its prescritpion only possesion of it proves both medical input and that I was infact prescribed and took the medication concerned
This was only recorded on DWP paperwork as medication.
because they had used lack of the medication I sent to disallow points .Admtting I had therfore been both prescribed it and took it would have been detrimental to DWP claims.
Its also a little known fact that DWP have an internal compensation scheme to recompense those who have suffered due to its “maladministration “It claims it will make good any losses due to you loosing benefit ,that it will cover expenses invovled ,,postage ,charges for medical evidence etc.There also a statment that it will consider personal distress and any worsening of your condition.Therefore its essential you gather evidence of any expenditure ,get receipts ,keep tickets etc .Futhermore document any physical hardships and if your health has suffered record this too .Record the dates of any medical appointments etc
I am personally looking at ways to legally hold to account my decision makers as they have clearly broken the law in several areas and I will post on how this goes.

After all if an ordinary person had lied to court about another person in order to discredit them it would be a crime .I dont see why DWP should be any different .
I intend to  try to claim compensation and urge anyone who has wrongfuly been denied benefits to do so ,even if its only your postage etc costs,because at the moment DWP looses nothing by witholding your rightful benefits especially if it reinstates them at mandatory review.Its cost it nothing ot keep your money ,its earned interest on it and removing you from your benefits goes on goverment figures on getting the disabled off benefits.
Claiming compensation and making public your claim puts the DWP out of pocket and it also needs to amend its statisics .Only  succesful maladminsitration cases are recorded ,but they are all recorded ,amounts under £50 might well be automatically approved ,under £500 are also more likely to be settled quickly  but larger claims have been succesful .Claim whatever your able ,even if its just your postage etc ,if you are awarded anything however small it is another black mark against DWP and it also leaves them and not you out of pocket .Only when it costs DWP more to withold it than pay what is rightfuly ours will policy change.Many  people give up and dont appeal ,more people  give up at mandatory review level ,some die,some comitte suicide or end up homeless  ,most suffer depression and hardship ,we owe it to those to make the goverment accountable .
If you feel uncomfortable taking money then donate it to a food bank or to a charity that helps the disabled deal with PIP etc appeals.The chances of winning a tribunal increase to almost 100 percent if you can be legally represented.

When you win your tribunal dont wait for DWP to decide to restart your payments ,they take upto 8 weeks ,legally they are allowed several weeks to ask the tribunal for a statment of its decision and then 4 weeks to decide if to appeal ,as appeals are only possible if theres been an error in law and DWP staff not rarely attend tribunals DWP are very unlikely to have any chance of an appeal .Yet they delay your payments as long as possible.As they stopped them pretty fast  taking 6 to 8 weeks to reinstate them isnt acceptable.I have written to DWP informing them that I am suffering severe hardship,that its due to clear maladministration by their staff ,that I had informed DWP prior to the tribunal and been ignored so I now expect a prompt resolution and to have my payments reinstated and back pay paid .I also mentioned the names of my decision makers and that I was going to pursue a claim of maladminstration so every delay would make the DWP more liable.

I dont know if this will be succesful ,but at the very least DWP cant now claim ignorance of my hardship or my complaints or the tribunal decision

“settling out of court ”
It is becoming increasingly common for DWP to phone claiments just before tribunals to offer them an award either their orginal pip back ,or their new claim approved .It is hard after months of harship to ignore this ,after all it normally comes with a promise of immediate reinstatment .Whereas a tribunal is some time off and uncertain and DWP can delay 8 weeks before giving you money again.It is likely I feel that if DWP have approached you they know your going to be succesful at the tribunal .based on their history I would guess they award you less than your due ,or maybe a nearer review date.Even if your satisifed I would personally have found it untenable to have given up my tribunal hearing ,despite deep distress my tribunal win will have to be recorded and add to the statisics on cases DWP have lost,these give hope to those still suffering and are becoming an increasing source of embarrasment for the goverment.The DWP know this and having starved the disabled into submisson relay on offering a quick fix to make you give up and go away .
The expect us to be pathetically grateful to be awarded what we are entitlted to ,or so worn down by the “hostile enviroment ” created to deny us help that we will take our hard won benefits perhaps spend out back pay to pay off debts and treat ourselves to decent food and warmth and forget that DWP have lied and cheated and humilated us.
Well we shouldnt ,we should hold them to account ,if you have won your appeals you are in the right and DWP were in the wrong .You now have power over them ,you also have power to help those still suffering
Make more complaints about all those invovled by name .Make the decision makers names known on line .Make your case known ,the media are unlikely to be interested lits become accepted that DWP lie ,but there are online social media option and there are blogs and forums .These decsion makers hide in the shadows and think they can lie with impunity .Let their friends and family and potential other employers see what they really are,that theuy are untrustworthy callous and perhaps liars.This is something that anyone who has any form of contact with them should know .
Do not lie ,only produce their own reports ,libel and slander laws are strict ,but there is no law that says you cant produce online information sent to you by DWP .
This also puts in the public domain information that might otherwise need journalists to get a freedom of information request

Futhermore its required that DWP and ATOS investigate complaints ,they will be logged and you should not be fobbed off by their responses but insist on futher investitions .they are legally required to take these seriously.Complain to ATOS is your assesor is at fault and complain to the assesors governing bodies.The medical proffesions are slow to put their house in order and letting slide offences by ATOS assesors that if they had been comitted within hospitals ,GP surgeries or other offical areas would have got the assesors at the very least repmained and possibly sacked.


Your backpay

I cannot offer you any personal advice on how to spend this ,perhaps you have debts ,I have a few but I will still have some back pay left over

I am going to use this it make myself as independent of DWP control as possible

I will pay the bills its possible to pay in advance as far in advance as possible ,then put  the money that would have gone out in DD or Standing orders into a savings account ,I will pay each year or quater in advance .This will mean that when DWP next decide to withold my PIP etc I can cover my essentials for at least a few weeks while theres a review .

I live somewhere with a shed so its possible to store gas ,so I bought a large calor gas heater and I have a gas cooker and a gas camping stove, (one of those that come in a plastic case,,not the free standing ones )I intend to buy 3 heating gas cylinder and 2 cooking gas ones and at least a dozen camping stove ones .The camping stove is a seriouse risk for me so its only my absolute last resort.

Its not a viable option to use calor gas as you only room heater for any length of time ,it makes an incredible amount of water and things quickly get damp even bedding and clothing .But to get warm when you wake up ,for a hour or so during the day  if you want a bath and a few minutes before you go to bed its a decent way to avoid hyperthemia.It cant be used in bedrooms or without ventilation and the cylinders are heavy you will need someone to bring them in and change them ,though this should only be every  month or two . If you have a heater or two heaters you can at least be sure of being able to get warm if you have had to go outside and got cold and wet and as a way to start your day warm ,get washed and dressed in a warm room and have breakfast warm .

I used to have an electrity metre and cooker ,without money I couldnt cook ,not even make a hot drink ,so a calor gas stove was another essential.

If you have an electricty meter ,consider filling it up and then just topping it up weekely as you would normally .

I hope to pay my landline ,internet and mobile bills upfront.

I also intend to stock up on dried goods,pasta and rice and especially cous cous and noodles as both these take minutes to cook or reheat so if your economising on fuel they are a huge help

Dried lentiles ,beans ,peas and barley etc,some of this I really dont like but they cost about £1 a bag and are the only realy viable way to store protein foods

Tins of baked beans, peas, other beans such as kidney beans or chickpea,tinned fruit,tinned vegetables,tinned potatoes (pretty vile but theres ways to cook them that are not too bad)Also bottled fruit and jams

Sauces such as soy sauce ,which with noodles makes a basic if unexciting meal for about 20 p

Mango chunty which will make a much nicer noodle meal

seasame oil ,,again for the noodles

cranberry and /or redcurrent or apples sauces  ,for flavouring stews and for vitamins ,however few

These are all a few pence.

With some fresh veg grown in your garden these will give you a fairly decent diet ,not very exicting and it will need rationing ,but it will give you at least one meal a day when you feel full and some basic vitamins and minerals and protein.

In addition I make soups and unlevened bread so

stock cubes and dried herbs are useful

soups are easy ,they are ,a veg of some kind,broccoli ,or carrots ,or even a packet of passatta ,to which you add a sotck cube ,salt ,pepper and an oinion ..then whatever flavouring is in the soups title,basil ,for basil and tomaotoe ,fresh corainder from a supermarket bought plant for carriot and corriander ,leeks for potato and leek ,cheese for broccoli and cheese ,You boil it all up ,liquidise it and voila soup.

Butternut squash soup is very filling and if you grow pumpkins you can make it from those and have a wonderful filling soup twice a week ,

Lentile soup is also incredibly filling and just as easy

I eat these with unlevened bread,which is bascially ,flour salt and a bit of water to make  bread like consistency that I then fry in olive oil,this costs at most a penny ,its quick and eaten wamr its quite pleasant .The olive oil or a nice oil is fairly essential because what your basically eating is flour and water so if its going to taste edible it needs to taste of something

I make sweet unlevened bread the same way but with white Self raising flour and sugar rather than salt,I sometimes put some sultanas in it.These I fry with butter .

A meal of  lentile soup ,unlevened bread and sweet unelvened bread is filling for  much less than 50 p including the fuel and washing up etc.


I will make myself as independent and self sufficient for food as  possible .I am lucky and while I cant grip and have other physical problems I can still get about the house and garden .

I have had fruit bushes for birthday etc prsents and I intend to buy more ,lots more,things like Blackcurrents ,blackberries,raspberrys ,red currents etc need virtually no gardening experience and no heavy work or bending down ,you just go to the bushes and pick the fruit ,blackcurrents especially are extreemly good for you and very productive ,in two or three years you will have far more than you can eat and maybe let people pick them in return for picking yours too or doing some light gardening .

Strawberries are another cheap and quick cropping plants ,you can put these in special strawberry planters or raised beds  or higher flower beds so you dont need to bend down ,or if you have children ,grandchildren or people willing to pick them you can plants dozens ,even just in a lawn or in a few feet of space in a tall pot .

Both Strawberries and Raspberries come in different varieties that produce fruit earlier or later so you can have several months of fruit .Theres also yellow rapsberries and white strawberries that have slightly different tastes

Gooseberries are worth planting as they are an inbetween crop ,fairly compact and quite prickly they are a good hedge.These also come in different colours with different cropping times

Blackberries often grow wild ,even in suburbs .but you can buy plants that are thornless and blackberries are another very healthy fruit .

None of these need much care except watering  the first few weeks they are planted,though they will produce better with some feeding its not essential .

Rhubbarb is space consuming so its not feasible without a garden or at least as space you can put a very big planter in ,,bath sized .But it produces “fruit” when nothing else is fruiting ,it also grows easily and doesnt need much effort you just pull stems out.

Though if you buy any of these bare rooted or as canes  you are advised not to let them produce fruit the first year and limit crops the second ,pot grown plants transplanted will produce fruit after a year .Then you can always have fresh fruit and the accompanying  vitamins .

If you have a garden you can plant lots ,but even planters can provide a few servings of fruit each week .

For the first months of 2019 I had no fresh fruit .I had my first strawberry for almost 12 months last week.So it doesnt take much to improve that .

If you have a big enough garden and a friend to plant them or you have big enough containers and buy dwarf versions  you can plant some fruit trees ,these wont fruit well for a couple of years ,but then you will have regular apples or pears or even peaches ,though peaches need southern conditions and winter protection .

Figs in theory will grow outside ,but I intend to buy one for inside ,if you have a sunny porch or conservatory you can grow figs as easily as any other house plant .

I know some people who have grown citruis fruits and several with indoor grape vines ,though how producitive they are or how edible the fruits I dont know,but they look pretty.

I also bought herbs ,rosemary ,thyme,chives  and mints grow fine outside and need no help  .I havent had much success but I know many people very easily grow coriander  and basil from seed regulary .I also bought plants that produce flowers for the house,mostly ,hardy geranuims and I plan to buy shasta daisys .I sowed Marigolds that will self seed.I will also plant daffodiles and crocus ,

These dont help your diet much but will cheer you up and keeping from becoming depressed is a key element in surviving while you reclaim PIP.

I also bought seeds ,this doesnt need to be a repeated expensse in most cases its easy to save seeds from your plants for next year ,especially for peas and beans all you have to do is leave some on a plant until they dry ,put them to dry a bit longer then store them somewhere dry .

Broad beans are incredibly easy to grow,stick some beans in a planter and water them sometimes .Peas more or less as easy though taller ones need canes you can buy dwarf peas.Only buy mangetout or sugar snap ,theres no really point growing peas for eating as peas because frozen peas are so cheap and have most of the same vitamins.

French beans I havent had much success with as they need a bit warmer temperatures but lots of people grow them

all these cost at most £1 a packet for two years seeds.

These are good sources of protein and need very little physical effort.

Tomatoes,you can buy these as shop bought plants fairly cheaply and have fresh tomatoes all summer and into autumn if you bring the plants indoors, I have reproduced tomoatoes from breaking bits of branches and sticking them in compost ,but I havent yet  had a chance to see how these crop .But tomatoes can be grown from seed for pennies and come in different colours and sizes you can often buy mixes ,They need putting in pots to spout but once you put them in a grow bag except for watering they dont need much effort ,you can grow courgets the same way ,cucumbers are fussier.Pumpkins are incredible easy to grow ,they take up a huge amount of space so are only really an option with a garden but the pumpkins or any other “winter Squash” will store over winter and give you filling food.

I am also growing potatoes ,several unsual ones in different colours and some peruvian ones, the peruvian ones take 1/3 less time to cook ,which when fuel is being rationed is a major saving .These need ground and a willing helper ,but you can also grow them in special potatoe bags .Reuse the compost from grow bags used for other plants and add some new .Again you can save some potatoes to use as seed next year .Potatoes come in different kinds,some early crop are normally grown for “new potatoes ” or salad potatoes ,but you can eat them as normal potatoes .Main crop are the ones most likely to store well and over winter but take longer to grow.You can buy seed potatoes from poundland and £5 will be enough to produce enough potatoes for  late summer and autum.Each seed potato produces at least 5 other  eating potatoes and many  will produce 10 potatoes .You can very easily be self sufficient for filling foods .

I bought different coloured ones because I eat a lot of potatoes and wanted variety ,but coloured ones are also healthier ,most loose their colour on cooking but many keep it if you make chips pr roast potatoes

If your depressed gardening for just a few minutes a day helps and taking some of your food production into your own hands will give you a sense of purpose and control .

If possible I hope to stock up on tea and coffee and salt and pepper

dried and uht milk and vinegar to make pickles

save all my jars and buy red cabbage ,beetroot and other veg  in the reduced isle to pickle, its very easy ,mostly if its cooked beetroot ,you just  dry it chop it up and put it in vinegar ,red cabbage you slice sprinkle with salt ,leave overnight ,wash ,dry and put in vinegar.You can pickle oinions ,peppers even eggs

Other thoughts

I also intend to stock up on cleaning stuffs ,on toilet rolls,pet food ,shampoo,toothpaste etc light bulbs and first aid supplies and also on items that I can potentially sell if I end up without money again.I nolonger buy furniture if I dont think I can resell it ,even at a loss so I can buy food .

Stock up on warm bedding ,mattress toppers, flannel sheets ,extra duvets and a thick warm rug for next to the bed or where you put your feet to sit  or stand in the living room and kitchen  ,sheepskins are ideal but rag rugs are cheap off ebay £6 or so and will do ok .Your feet and hands are what get cold the quickest so limiting heat loss is essential ,I buy expensive thermal socks for bed and fingerless mittens and in the house I normally wear those and a hat with ear flaps


Buy warm clothing in natural fibres which are warmer ,but not cotton which isnt very good for retaining heat .for next to your skin silk is ideal and often charity shoup pound rails have silk blouses etc ,because unironed silk looks pathetic and so it doesnt sell .Wool and especially merino wool is also good ,I wear merino wool tights .Cashmere is even better and because its a luxury fabric its usually possible to buy cheap cashmere jumpers on ebay if they have stains or worn bits or moth holes .I cut them up to make a vest from the body then socks and gloves from the arms ,I cant sew to hem them now but unlike woold cashmere doesnt fray and unravel.Jut cut the arms off the body part and cut each arm into two halfs ,a longer half and a shorter half ,the long one is for socks and the other for mittens ,the mittens ideally need sewing into a tube that fits flush with your hands ,theres instruction on my blog in the costume accessories post on how to make them and making a coif or peasant hat is handy to sleep in and just needs a few scraps and half an hour .

Check pound rails at charity shops or check ebay regulary and try to build up stocks of

cashmere ,silk ,merino wool and wool and linen clothes,linen is better than cotton I wear linen summer lesiure trousers in bed instead of  normal pyjama bottoms .Linen also creases badly and theres often linen clothes on charity shop pound rails







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PIP a closer look at how DWP decision makers lie and how ATOS might just be innocent (at least occasionaly)

I recently won a tribunal to have my PIP reinstated ,it took over 6 months from loosing PIP to regaining it .They have been months of horrendous hardship and distress.Unlike many claimants whose complaints against DWP hinge on matters of opinion or medical evidence .Mine is almost entirely based on DWP and ATOSs own paperwork.

These are the names of those involved in my case

The ATOS  health professional Ms Wilfort     who is I belive a nurse

Kerry Lee     their profession is DWP clerk/decision maker,medical qualifications presumably none.

David Coventry   profession DWP clerk/decision maker medical qualifications none

Sam Taylor    profession DWP clerk and decision maker medical qualifications none .

I am basing this assumption  of their qualifications on the job description for decision makers,DWPs own guides  and my research on job review sites such as Glass doors.DWP repeatedly refused to give me the medical qualifications of the decision makers,I now realise this is probably because they have none.

By comparison

My medical evidence was from

A rheumatolgist

A Neurologist

two different GP s

in Addition there was DWPs own ESA physical report
A report written to support special measures ,this noted police and womens aid input

two GP fit notes several months apart,one current ,both for Epilpesy

Gp paperwork on my neck problems

I will go into significant detail in this post as I feel in order to prove the extent of the decision makers lies its important to start at the begining and give my readers the information they had.The next post is more concise  and deals with the actual case against DWP staff ,so readers are welcome ot skip directly to that .

Firstly what DWP staff claim as  their primary source for stopping my PIP

The Health care professionals report

Ms Wilfort ,my ATOS assesor

My ATOS assesor was polite and  seemed pleasant though despite witnessing my panic attacks offered no help during them ,though she did allow me to leave the room and at one point suggested I might want to bring my little dog in as she knew that I found its presence calming (In her report she recorded that I had picked up my dog and used that to suggest I had no problems in several joints which were utterly unrelated for example the loss of closed grip which means I cant grip jars etc.She also continued trying to question me during one bad attack.I dont know what if anything I said in answer to those questions ,which ironically were on my mental state. However  she was kind and it turned out honest ,from the contents of DWP reports on why my PIP was withdrawn it appeared she had lied in almost every relevant area and witheld important information and I made a formal complaint.

Yet once I did finally manage to get a copy of her report I found that she had ,(for the most part )honestly and accurately recorded my health conditions and medication  and in part at least recorded my distress during the assessment ,though she didn’t record the extent and severity.Nor did she correctly assess my physical problems because I was unable to cope with a physical examination.

But she clearly  recorded I used some aids .I think it likely that a disinterested reading of her report even with its limitations would have been enough to have had my PIP renewed  at least at the basic level.

While I feel she was less than caring during my panic attacks and unintentionally helped make them worse she was respectful and patient.The assesment left me deeply traumatised but it was probably less traumatic conducted by Ms Wilfort than it might have been by another assessor .

However she made some statements she was utterly unqualified to make and which were potentially damaging to my case.For example claiming to know my lower limbs were all fine and moved correctly despite there being no full physical examination and despite my wearing loose fitting trousers

The assesment took place in my own  one storey home ,so she based these opinions on observing me ,walk from my front door to the room we sat in for the assement .I do not live in a mansion,this was barely a few yards.

It was this walk and  observing  me sitting down in an arm chair and later on me picking up my little dog briefly which she used to decide on the range of movement in my back ,legs ,arms ,shoulders and neck .This was used by DWP to discard medical evidence.My physical disabilities are not particularly important to my PIP award and I had never suggested I couldnt physically bend down or walk .

I do however feel her assessment of my behaviour as normal is far from correct ,here is the relevant part of her report.The assessment lasted approx one hour during which time I had three panic attacks

pip 3


I also leave you to decide if, as she wrote I looked “Well kempt ” and “well” not tired “.I took a photo of myself just before she arrived.Its on the digital camera in the photo so it will be time and date stamped

my pip outfit

This is the room used,I sat in the corner chair so he assesment of my movements is based on my walking along my hallway top and from this room and sitting on that chair

room pip

This is my hallway so I walked maybe 20 paces

hs hallway

She also made comments which showed she had no understanding whatsoever of my particular form of Epilepsy and ought therefore to have admitted this on her report and not formed opinions she was unqualified to make.I had a neurologists statement about my Epilpesy on file from 2016 and its since worsened I also had a GP fit note for uncontrolled Epilpesy.However from her report it was decided my Epilpesy was low risk and had improved .Heres one of my fit notes

unctrolled eplipesy fit note dc.jpg

This was from 3 months prior to the assesment and I had a futher fit note from a different GP for Epilpesy issued just days previously ,she examained the fit notes and noted them

This was the paperwork ,medication etc in the room on the desk you see in the photo and shown to her during the assesment,this is also from my digital camera

medicaztion at asesment pip.jpg

medication pip

propnaol pip

I also had  several items of relevant ESA paperwork,a accompanied bus pass,and paperwork relevant to my need to have my contact details etc kept secret .Non Molestation order ,a court transcript of a crime I had been a victim of and a special measures award .

The assessor accurately noted all this medication ,she also noted several incidents of PTSD attacks outside my home , particularly those at a GP surgery ,the job shop and my solictors .But she decided on her report that my anxiety attacks were not caused by interacting with her ,but purely because she was in my home,she wrote that had the assessment took place at a centre I would have been fine .This is clearly not borne out by the very evidence she records .

Though I became too distressed at being handled to cope with the physical examination she did do the first part involving my hands before I had to stop

This is how my hands look

hand pip

Overall I  feel the assesor did her job as kindly as its possible to have done so and that she was honest in recording evidence  in as far as she did record it .I complained about her partly because I felt she ought to have tried to help me during my panic attacks rather than just sitting watching,asking questions and taking notes which was clearly not going to help me clam down , but I primarily complained because based on DWP decision makers accounts of her report she appeared to have said I behaved normally ,showing no anxiety ,that she had done a full physical examination (which she hadnt) that my hands were fine and had a full grip ,that I did not use aids in two areas that would have given me 4 points and that she didnt record my medication or any external PTSD attacks,but she recorded all those things.I have since written an apology for calling her a liar and while I still feel there were elements of the report that are unacceptable ,unlike the DWP decision makers she was honest.

My DWP decision makers were

Kerry Lee

David Coventry


Sam Taylor

The decision makers refused to renew my PIP because they decided my epilepsy had  miraculously got better (despite fit notes stating the opposite) and become “low risk ” That my hands had miraculously healed ,my left hand finger  joints regrown and I had a full grip .That I had shown no anxiety and had no significant PTSD attacks ,no medical input for PTSD and that I didn’t take regular pain relief so couldn’t have any problemswith my joints,they claimed my last pain relief prescription was for 2016 .They claim to  have  based those claims on the ATOS assesors report .The DWP staff were submitting clear lies even in their statements to the tribunal

I will go into them more fully in detail in my next post ,but here is a simple sample

Part of my appeal argument was that I had won an ESA tribunal in June 2018 that reaffirmed parts of my health problems which DWP decision makers were denying existed.That this tribunal backed up my medical evidence and DWP acceptance of it  was ongoing because I receive disability based  Universal credit .Its well known several criteria overlap,even the government admits this and wants to merge the assessments. Theres also court cases that confirm evidence of both awards can be used.DWP own guidelines to staff accept an overlap.

As my ESA tribunal was just 4 months before my PIP assessment its clearly relevant

DWP  decision makers got around this inconvenient truth by lying ,They lied about my ESA award and claimed to know nothing about a tribunal.Whether DWP staff ought to know if DWP are paying a benefit is open to debate,I would suggest as its just a few seconds work on a keyboard ,its not too unrealistic to assume they can access files of claimants . But they were sent paperwork by me,both an original award letter and my final letter when I changed from ESA to the equivalent version of Universal credit,it showed a continuous award time until Aug 2018 and my universal credit page confirms I merely crossed over onto disabled universal credit


esa end date dwp letter

yet heres what DWP decision makers told the Tribunal in their statments to the judge ,the letter above was in their possesion at the time.

pip 1 esa facts

pip paragrpah esa

I did not claim to have an outstanding ESA appeal  thats a utter lie and clearly so as it would make no sense for me to claim that when I had a succesful appeals corroboratory paperwork.I had sent them the original letter from the ESA tribunals service ,it had the hearing venue and date .


The DWP therefore manufactured a statement that claimed I told them about an ESA pending appeal of which they had no evidence in their records.

They claim I told them a lie and that I didn’t get ESA but had in fact had it stopped for not meeting the criteria .They claim to have this on  record as a fact ,they choose to put this so called fact in a separate box to draw further attention to it

This is incredibly serious ,if a DWP employee is telling a judge that according to DWP records that the claimant is lying  about having ESA and about a tribunal,and that the claimant also  claims to be making an ongoing appeal for which theres also no record and so shes also lying about that ,it suggests that the person is an habitual liar .Much of the tribunal hinges on how you put across your case and if your believed so this is clearly incredibly damaging.

If in the normal course of things a normal person who was asked to give evidence to a court ,made up a number of lies in order to make the accused look guilty its my understanding that the person involved would face serious consequences.If you made up lies to financially harm another person I am fairly sure thats also illegal  .I am also fairly sure lying to DWP is illegal,yet apparently this is not the case for DWP staff  or at least not for

Kerry Lee

David Coventry


Sam Taylor

I will add more details on my individual decision makers in future posts


Here are some of DWPs own guidelines and outlines for decision makers which I thought might be useful

Essentially it tells them to form their own opinions and ignore medical evidence or anything anyone says.


Click to access dmgch01.pdf


“The DM can make assumptions about certain matters where the evidence required
to make a determination for the purposes of an outcome decision is incomplete.
This enables an outcome decision to be made without waiting for information. A
further determination can be made and the decision revised or superseded as
appropriate when the evidence is received. See DMG Chapters 03 and 04 for
guidance on revision and supersession.”


On evidence the Decision makers use

Evidence on which the DM decides the claim or application is collected on behalf of
the Secretary of State. In some cases this person will also be the DM. Evidence can
be collected by telephone, letter or interview. Where evidence is collected by letter,
a copy of a letter asking specific questions should always be kept with the reply.
Where evidence is collected by telephone, the questions asked should be recorded
along with the replies. See DMG 01451 et seq in fraud cases. Documentary
evidence carries the most weight and is preferred.

On how to decide on the evidence

The DM must decide claims and applications on the balance of probability. This is
not the same as “beyond reasonable doubt”, the standard test for proof in criminal
01344 The balance of probability involves the DM deciding whether it is more likely than
not that an event occurred, or that an assertion is true1
. It does not mean that the
claimant can be given the benefit of the doubt2
. If the evidence is contradictory the
DM should decide whether there is enough evidence in favour of one conclusion or
the other to show which is the more likely. The DM may decide on the basis of
findings made on the balance of probability or may find that there is not enough
evidence to satisfy them about findings one way or the other.

Corroboration of evidence
01380 There is no rule of law that corroboration of the claimant’s own evidence is
. But the DM should not accept evidence, from the claimant or anyone
else, uncritically. It n


Inherently improbable evidence
01392 The DM may decide that a claimant’s statement is inherently improbable. This is
where it is very unlikely that what has been asserted can be true.


Medical evidence guidelines

In general, medical evidence should be treated in the same way as any other
evidence. Medical training is not required, but there are additional considerations for
01521 Medical evidence is often given as a medical opinion and is not conclusive. See
DMG Chapter 04.
01522 The DM is entitled to reject an opinion1

where there is direct or circumstantial
evidence which raises a strong inference against the opinion.Where doctors or
HCPs disagree, the DM has to decide, on the balance of probabilities, which of the
contrasting opinions is more likely to be correct. The view of the claimant’s own
doctor is not conclusive2


DWP staff advice sheet on legal implications is several pages ,but the end pages is interesting

Natural justice
01220 There is a common law requirement that DMs should observe the rules of natural
justice. The rules are not prescribed collectively but they represent the manner in
which justice is expected to be achieved. An unbiased approach is needed,
reflecting the principle that impartiality is at the heart of the judicial process

re tribunals

If the case is remitted to the DM, a new outcome decision should be made
incorporating the FtT decision. The FtT decision is binding on the DM, subject to
supersession or appeal. See DMG Chapters 04 and 06 for further guidance.



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Charlotte Bronte “this is her picture as she was”a short post about Charlottes portraits

This is her picture as she was

It seems a thing to wonder on

As though mine image in the glass

Should tarry when myself am gone.

NPG 1452,Charlotte BrontÎ (Mrs A.B. Nicholls),by George Richmond
I gaze until she seems to stir,—
Until mine eyes almost aver
That now, even now, the sweet lips part
To breathe the words of the sweet heart:—
And yet the earth is over her.
I am reminded of this poem when I consider the  portrait of Charlotte Bronte and the devotion of  the man briefly her husband ,Arthur Bell Nicholls.
To me it always seemed to be not just a representation of how Charlotte looked ,but of her value as a person and a testiment to how greatly she was loved.Despite  having a tragically brief time as a wife she was clearly treasured ,she was happy and she knew herself loved .
Arthur Bell Nicholls is not always given the credit due to him by those who tell the Brontes story ,as he committed the unforgivable sin of destroying private letters ,papers and possessions (something I deal with in a separate post ) .
He had to  leave the Haworth Parsonage when he was unexpectedly refused the position as  Patricks successor .Though he could take little ,he bore away with him to Ireland the portrait  of his love ,the Richmond portrait of Charlotte Bronte ,it remained in his main room  until his death ,,even though he did remarry many years after Charlottes death and he was placed before it in his coffin while waiting to be interred .
Later it was found he also had other portraits ,the Iconic “Pillar “portrait familiar to most people as the only certain image of all three surviving Bronte sisters,(The portrait is called the Pillar Portrait because it seemed to have a pillar separating Charlotte from Emily and Ann,though this was in fact a painted over portrait of Branwell ,which he for some reason decided to erase.)
and  we have a further portrait by Branwell  ,a fragment of the “gun group ” portrait which is almost certainly Emily ,though its been suggested it might be Ann
The Gun group itself seems to have hung on the Parsonage stairwell  and it also seems likely that it had started to disintegrate .Arthur Bell Nichols unable to take as much as he might have liked back to Ireland cut the portrait of Emily from it as he considered it to be very like her ,but didnt feel it faithfully represented the others.
The first image is a much damaged photograph of the painting
gun group
The sketch below gives the rough composition of the painting ,though it seems to be reversed .There are also tracings of the figures from the Gun group portrait though I dont have images of those .
brotne gun group
In addition to these which Arthur took with him we have one confirmed  portrait of Charlotte by
and an assortment of possible other unconfirmed  portraits that crop up from time to time
418px-CharlotteBrontePortrait thompson parsonage
Theres an interesting blog post about Charlottes portraits  and possible portraits here
We also have several  portraits of Anne ,who has more portraits than Charlotte and spread across a wider span of years
All the portraits below are by Charlotte
We  also have some vague sketches of Emily  or Charlotte  ,or /and Anne  in the diary paper Emily wrote
Which sister is which below its impossible to tell
bronte Sketch_by_Emily_Brontë_sgowing_herself_and_Anne_at_work_in_the_dining_room_of_the_parsonage. wki
And a sketch of Emily by Emily herself in another Diary Paper
It should be noted in fairness again to Arthur Bell Nicholls that we have most of these because he saved them and stored them.
There are excellent posts on these portraits
which is the national portrait galleries own description of the group portrait  known as the Pillar Portrait
and here with regard to the images of Anne
The portrait of Emily
To have and cherish an image of those who you have loved and who have long gone makes that image even more precious than it was while they lived,because while they lived you had the living breathing object of your love ,to turn and speak and to love you in return.When they have died you merely have their image to remind of you of those things.
I wanted to use this post to address the images that have appeared over the past years and which have claimed to be one or more or the sisters .
I have approached it from this rather drawn out route because I wanted the reader to ask themselves first ,
why didnt Arthur Bell Nicholls take these with him ?,
why did they not hang in his parlour daily reminders of his lifes  great love ?
or in the case of the photographs ,why didnt he keep them in frames near his bed or in other rooms .
Why also did none of their friends have photographs ?
And why didnt a publisher use any ,especially if like  Mrs Gaskell  they were contemporys searching for a photograph or portrait for her biography or ,printers looking for images for the sisters novels .
All kinds of papers ,fragments of writing ,clothing etc were shown to Mrs Gaskel and later biographers but never a portrait .
The Most recent to my knowledge is the so called Bronte sisters photograph
I have addressed this photograph is some detail in a post here
and the Parsonage museum features it and their views here
 There are other suggested photographs which even less credibility
and one which  was believed to be of Charlotte and for a while was listed as her in the Museum archive  but has since been identified as  most likely Ellen Nussey
I would like therefore to look at the Portraits
As this pretty portrait was I believe the first of the newly “discovered ” portraits I think it is probably a good place to start as what applies to this equally applies to many others.
The portrait  is presumed by some, to be that of the Bronte sisters and was at the time of it coming into the limelight was owned by Mr James Grozney.
It is also presumed to be by Landseer ,wether or not it is by Landseer  I do not know.
But it is beyond any doubt whatsoever not a portrait of the Brontes painted in 1830s.
This is not my own personal opinion but a fact ,if you were to show this painting to a dozen costumers ,they would all say exactly the same thing .
grozny bronte
This portrait has been around for some time and the debate has widened ,so it is interesting  to see a  post about the portrait written when it first began to come into the light ,especially as the post also contains considerable input by the  paintings then owner and other bloggers including myself  in the comments section.
That was continued on the authors other blog
I  am going to be fairly robust is denying the authenticity of the ” Landseer  “portrait ,so I would also like to reaffirm what I say in the comments in the Echostains blog ,that it would be lovely to have another portrait of the sisters but this is sadly not it .I took a great deal of care to try and find any possible way this could be the sisters ,because I recognise that what for myself and other costumers or historians is merely an academic exercise ,is for the portraits owners a matter of  personal belief and  financial interest.
Now I will explain why the portrait is not the sisters.
The clothing they are wearing is too late for the date attributed to it .Theres no possible way for it to exist as a 1830s painting.
I would also add it doesnt look like other representations of the sister which we know to be them but this is a comparativly inexact argument.The costume is not its fact.I have therfore kept to the issues internal to the portrait itself.
The portrait was apparently dated 1834.But I have also heard 1838 as a possible date
though neither is plausible.
The girls in the painting are wearing clothing from much later ,I would guess at the earliest from the mid 1840s and during the 1830s there was a radical change in fashion
there is no way to mistake a mid 1830s gown for a mid 1840s gown
The dress below is an early 1830s gown ,the V and A museum date it between 1830 and 1834 so it fits perfectly into the time line  mentioned in the article for the portrait
1830 1.jpg
This was the style of clothing at that time and paintings from that time show women in similar  gowns.Most frequently with a wide  neckline covered either with a lace shawl collar called a pelerine or an under collar or chemisette
Portrait of Laura Colton Chapin by William Sindey Mount 1833
High museum of Art .
which looks very like the neckline and sleeves in the gown worn by Emily in the portrait by Branwell
Below is another portrait dated to the mid 1830s
Portrait of a woman before a landscape by an unknown artist
woman 130w.jpg
This is clearly a much better executed portrait of a woman wearing clothing of a similar style to the clothes worn by the sisters in the Pillar portrait by branwell and with very simialr hair
The gowns are an almost identical cut and both have belts ,though Branwell has not added a buckle to Charlottes
If you compare these to the portrait there is absolutely no similarities whatsoever ,if you substitute the later date of 1838 ,the dresses are still not anything approaching those in the portrait .Though dresses sometimes had lower bodices by the end of the 1830s the bodices did not go as low as those in the portrait ,the necklines and sleeves were very different .
An  excellent guide to the era with an extensive collection of images and explanations of the styles key points can be found here
The post goes into detail on a year by year basis to show the fashions of the decade and most of the illustrations are of museum collections from the UK  choose any date for the portrait and compare it to gowns in the post
If the issue of the attributed date is removed and we assume that the painting is supposed to show the Bronte sisters then it has to have been painted while they were all at home long enough to sit for the portrait and have access to clothing seen in it sometime around 1845.I think this is theoretically possible there are times when all three sisters were at the parsonage ,but as this co incides with the time of Branwells decline and the time when they were not in paid work ,their savings were dwindling ,they were focusing on their writing and they had little income it seems unlikely they would have been splashing out on reams of silk ,spending hours making fashionable gowns and sitting for portraits.
Even had they all been employed as governesses on a good salary giving them £20 per year as “take home pay” The gowns in the photograph would cost far too much and take far too long  in sewing hours to make into a gown .
Theres a lot of fabric in the gowns ,when I was making Victorian clothing the barest minimum I could get away with was 5 metres of 52 inch wide fabric.Fabric was sold in narrower widths in the Victorian era.
Thats 5 yards for the Green gown “Emily ” is wearing ,5 yards for the one worn by the standing girl and probably  7 or more for the seated figure who is wearing a tiered gown.
Gowns were normally lined so that would mean a similar quantity of cheaper lining fabric .
So that would be  around 30 yards of fabric ,the greater quantity of it being in cream and pale lilac ,two colours of no practical use in a household with dogs and cats who would all shed hairs and bring in mud .Once outside the Parsonage was  surrounded by peat moorland on three sides and  any trip outside of the house into Haworth would mean avoiding dung and mud or at least dusty dirt .
In addition the gowns would take up a lot of space  when being worn ,the three girls in the portrait would entirely fill up the Bronte living room ,I have worn a similar style gown  with the same number of petticoats for work in the Parsonage .I have sat on the living room window seat and walked around the Bronte table and there wouldn’t have been space in any of the rooms for two other women dressed the same way to move about freely and still avoid the fire .It makes no sense to spend a vast amount of money ,making useless gowns when your short of cash and of time .
I  used to sew all my costumes entirely by hand and it took several weeks to make my Bronte replica gowns and they were by no means as complicated at the portrait gowns so the sisters would have also had to spend many hours a day making the gowns ,when they were writing,novels ,publishing the book of poems and keeping house and caring for Branwell and Patrick.
The fabric would need spreading out to cut  and sometimes to pin and tack,so we would have to assume they would sweep aside their writing desks ,turf keeper and flossy out of the parlour and spend their evenings cutting and tacking .The sisters would have needed new clothing ,but they clearly focused on simple practical clothes as  both the extent garments in the parsonage collection and reports of their first London trip confirm.
Though Charlotte equipped herself more fashionably for later visits she herself mentions that on this first visit they stood out because of their plain clothes.
With regard to other things mentioned in the reports
One claims that the
. The auctioneer says the artist also included two other telling features: a horse-hair sofa with a beaded-curve back (now in the museum), and an unusual tell-tale “dove-colored” tint on the walls.
Yet the girl is sat on a chair ,not a sofa and certainly not on anything even remotely similar to the sofa at the parsonage.
The sofa pictured below does have a curled arm but is a different colour and much deeper than the chair the girl is seated on,you couldnt sit on this sofa or stand around it in the manner the girls are grouped
That the auctioneer hasnt taken the time to check this very simple point shows a lack of concern for detail which should make one wary of believing any of the other claims.
As regards the “dove coloured tint” that is pretty much equivilent of saying a neutral coloured wall,painted in neutral colours ,in an antique painting which will have aged  looks identical to a totatly unseen other neutral coloured  wall ,which was painted at some past point in a colour of paint one person described as “dove coloured”.
As regards the items of jewelery I am not certain which items are concerned and nor am I  an expert in jewelery , I have not owned many genuine early Victorian items so I cant comment extensively,
However I believe that one of the items in question seems to be a mourning bracelet of hair,if the portrait is dated to the mid or even late 1830s then whose hair would be in the mourning bracelet ?
I do recall a  bracelet of hair jewelery in the parsonage collection  which looks like the braceet in one of the news reports ,but I belive that  it was mourning jewelery and that the hair was Emilys and Annes in which case I dont see how the claim that
 “The painting depicts an item of jewellery that Anne is known to have owned “
can possibly be true and that if untrue that it is a mistake made in good faith .
To not have checked what the bracelet was made from when using it for something as important as reasearch to prove the authenticity of a portrait is extremely careless.It is a further reason to reassess all the other claims made about the portrait .
My only other thoughts with regard to the jewelery issue is to say that then as now ,jewelery had fashions ,for example Whitby Jet Jewelery  was almost mass-produced ,the same motifs recreated time after time ,probably by the same  small group of skilled craftsman.Linked hands brooches and lockets designed to take a piece of hair or photograph are extreemly common as are certain designs or necklace and bracelet .
While Hair jewelery was proffesionally,you sent off the hair of your loved one and it was made into jewelery of your choice ,  so I assume that the jewellers provided a catalogue of designs that you could choose from  so just because one person owned a brooch,or bracelet  that another person in a portrait is wearing doesn’t mean they are the same person.
I feel this is already a much longer post than I had originally anticipated so I will leave aside the  “new ” Portraits of Emily for a second post
An excellent post on the Brontes confirmed portraits and their backgrounds can be found here
for other bloggers work on the variouse images covered in my post please see the following links
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Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre

Its been common for people to assume that Jane Eyre is somehow a literary manifestation  of Charlotte Bronte ,that Jane’s thoughts echo Charlotte’s ,her tastes are Charlotte’s tastes and her  views and morals are Charlotte’s. I believe this is for the most part wrong and that the linking  of Charlotte with Jane, alongside the biography by Mrs Gaskell has created a version of Charlotte at odds with the reality .

One problem we have with Charlotte is there’s no surviving sibling to write about her  and we base much of what we know on letters written to Ellen Nussey ,who was an almost lifelong friend of Charlotte’s,yet Charlotte did not share the secret of her authorship of Jane Eyre with Ellen until the secret was out and beyond denial.


We know what we do of Charlotte from Ellen because Ellen against Charlotte’s wishes kept all her letters.On the other hand Mary Taylor who Charlotte did eventually tell about her literary career destroyed all her letters.So we can never be sure if the Charlotte of Ellens letters is a perfect reflection of Charlotte .

It was clear from the Novels earliest days that there is a fair bit of Charlotte s life reflected in  Jane Eyre ,it didn’t take too long for people who had been there to recognise Cowen Bridge in the fictional Lowood,nor was it beyond the realm of possibility to guess that the authoress of Jane Eyre had been a governess .I am in fact always bemused that more people didn’t immediately guess that Currer Bell was a woman.Clearly Janes physical appearance is modeled on Charlottes.But whereas Charlotte was “small and Plain ” and hated it ,Jane isnt really over concerned about it except in so far as it would have aided her (along with money) to have won Rochester away from Blanche Ingram .

I normally hark back to physical evidence ,artifacts or  records of purchases etc  when writing about the Brontes and this post will be no different.I am convinced Jane and Charlotte are two separate beings that have only superficial similarities   because of their taste in clothes.


paisly gown top cb

Its a fundamental part of who Jane is ,even when given a choice and more or less limitless budget she buys plain fabrics for plain gowns and few of them,by contrast Charlottes trousseau was quite extensive .Jane doesn’t even want an embroidered wedding veil ,while at least two bonnet veils survive both with heavy embroidery .Charlotte made a point of buying laces etc from Brussels prior to leaving and there are a number of bows ,lace mittens ,collars and cuffs in the museum’s collection .

I cannot for one minute under any circumstances imagine Jane wearing this.Its a very bright pink wrapper gown

By far the most common colours in the Bronte museums collection of clothing and dress fragments are Cream,lilac or Mauve,green ,pink and blue ,with pink featuring in the most different items and the dominant colours usually being cream or mauve /lilac(I dont think the mauve items are linked to mourning as they are not plain mauve) .Frills ,flounces, fake flowers,bows  and ribbons also feature on several items ,one or two I am not certain of but which I assume are bonnets.

Description cream silk, many small tight ruffles, ribbons & bows; complete; h 185 x dm brim 580; silk, lace, stiffening; cream; fair, fragile, disintegrating; ribbon tie with design of roses, trimmed inside brim, bow at nape frilled, frill round back

NOr  can I imagine Jane wearing this


Nor would jane have worn a hair piece,which we know Charlotte dis ,at least for one London visit .Nor would Jane have added little boosters to the bust of her corset.

padded cup corset

These might seem superficial ,but whereas as Jane is perfectly content with her looks ,doesn’t like fashion ,doesnt seem drawn to feminine or particularly pretty ,cheerful colours or fabrics ,Charlotte was an intensely feminine woman ,she loved pretty clothes, she seems to have taken an interest in fashion.The sisters first trip to London is often cited to show that they had no fashion sense and its true Charlotte is occasionally referred to as old-fashioned ,but  she was originally  constrained by her income and by being in deep mourning for at least one visit .Mourning clothing was probably that bought ,or made  either after their Aunts or more likely after Branwells death and its unlikely Charlotte felt like buying clothing in the aftermath of Emily and Annes death .On later visits we see she has bought much more up to date accessories and wears much more up to date clothes ,Despite her claims to the contrary in her letters ,she also clearly bought more gowns ,bonnets etc than was strictly necessary ,,there are at least two barely worn gowns in the Bronte Parsonage Museums collection that are fashionable and very pretty .They are probably London gowns ,though they may be trousseau items it seems unlikely as they are not particular suitable for wearing in winter.

There is also a delightful pair of black satin evening shoes, which I doubt have been worn outside ,if at all ,these little satin shoes were like kid gloves essentially disposable items ,a little like our stockings and tights .It would certainly need disposable income to buy a pair of  flimsy satin shoes which would  become damaged very easily  by dust ,rain ,or general scuffing and clearly be useless in the cold parsonage .

shoes cb

Image from the excellent

Another radical  difference is  Charlotte never seems to have been fond of children and though she became fond of some it was the exception ,she also hated being a governess.Jane seems to like her charge Adel and doesnt seem entirely dissatisfied with being a governess until Rochester cruelly exposes her to the contempt of his elegant rich visitors .These attitudes are immensely different, Charlotte rebelled against taking orders ,living according to the rules and regimes of her employers ,she has for the most part nothing but contempt for her charges and took very little pleasure in teaching.Jane is in many respects much more  at peace, more passive and more willing to accept her lot than Charlotte .Jane has no inner world ,despite her unorthodox  and imaginative drawings Jane has her feet grounded firmly in the real world .

I am not even entirely certain Charlotte liked Jane as much as her readers have ,Charlotte was perfectly capable of creating heroines she didnt  particularly like,Lucy Snow for instance .But these women she then places in situations from her life ,she gives them some of her feelings and some of her actions.The burning anger felt by Jane at Helen Burns treatment is clearly that of Charlottes seeing her sister maltreated .But In Shirley neither Caroline of Shirley act in ways Charlotte would have ,indeed Shirley is based on Emily.While Caroline is far too passive as heroine for her to  share much of her creators personality .

I think its in many ways much harder to  work out Charlotte’s feelings and character than Emily’s or even Annes because her poetry lacks the personal input of Emilys.By contrast with Emily who had few if any friends outside of her family and who among strangers didnt make any effort to be different to who she really was ,Charlotte had close friends and made many less close friends ,but their input means while we have more information about Charlotte it may sometimes be misleading ,often  Charlotte is a different person depending on who she writes to and we have so much of this misleading half truth that finding the real person is harder because its tempting to just take her letters at face value .

We are all different people to the person our parents, our teachers ,even some of our neighbours or friends might perceive us to be .




























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The Brontes then and Now ,post 2 The Brontes causes of Death

The causes of death in this article  from my  vintage booklet “The Brontes then and now ” A booklet that commemorated the Brontes 1947 Anniversary year.This article was short and by Mabel Edgerley.I have added recent research on the Brontes causes of death and my own musings ,for those better qualified than me to consider.

Causes of  Death  of the Brontes


C Mabel Edgerley reprinted from the British Medical Journal of April 2 1932

The introduction notes that it was only from 1837 that  cause of death had to be included on death certificates .It also notes that Mrs Bronte died of internal cancer ,though it doesn’t provide a source and that Maria and Elizabeth where described as having died of “decline ” by Patrick Bronte.(I have added a footnote  of my own at the foot of the page  on these deaths from other sources )

Then follow the details from the certificates that the writer had actually seen at the keighley  Registrars office and which I will  therefore include in full .


Causes of death as listed by the magazine 


Patrick Branwell Bronte

Chronic Bronchitis,Marasmus

Emily Jane Bronte

Consumption duration 2 months

charlotte Bronte

Phthisis duration 2 months


Patrick Bronte  Jne 7th 1861

chronic Bronchitius ,dyspepsia and convulsions duration 9 hours



 Phthisis is a term describing a general wasting away ,wasting disease, most often used for TB at that time

Marasmus is a form of severe malnutrition , severe sickness,that can  but doesn’t automatically include vomiting etc.



Causes of Death Maria and Elizabeth Bronte

The School at Cowen Bridge recorded both Maria and Elisabeth as having TB before being sent home .

A typhoid  outbreak also swept Cowen bridge and several girls died at the same time as Maria and Elisabeth either at the school of after being sent home .The generally unhealthy conditions ,harsh regime and poor diet may have caused either latent TB to become full blown TB in Maria and Elisabeth or some other child and made its spread much more likely. Its very possible that Both Emily and Charlotte developed latent TB at Cowen Bridge.Anne was fairly seriously unwell the year before Branwells death so perhaps at that stage she also had latent TB (see footnote below)


There is an assortment of ways TB can manifest itself ,or it can lie dormant either permanently or until some bout of ill health ,stress or deprivations cause it to become active .

Variouse medical articles have been published on the Brontes causes of death and a short summary of the most common findings are below.

Miliary TB, seems the most likely cause of death for Emily as Charlottes list of symptoms in her statement for Dr Epps is a classic description of Miliary TB,even today this can be hard to recognise early enough to  treat effectivily,By the time classic TB symptoms develope the infection has often spread throughout the body.So it seems like its advanced quickly but has really been stealithly undermining health .Its very possible Emily became fully aware she was effectively doomed and therefore refused all help its was a common cause of death and its symptoms well known.Keats reportedly said

“I know the colour of that blood! It is arterial blood. I cannot be deceived in that colour. That drop of blood is my death warrant. I must die.”

Miliary TB can cause acute respiratory failour ,sometimes occuring rapidly when the patient may not have seemed to have worsening symptoms.This is still sometimes fatal and cause multi organ failour .It often manifests in extreme  breathlessness and oxygen starvation ,and patients need to be incubated and given intensive care quickly  in order to survive.This sounds like Charlottes descriptions  of Emily being torn, breathless and panting from life ,it maybe why Emilys death caused such a trauma in Charlotte but could have had nothing to do with Emily being unwilling to die ,she was just reacting to being unable to breath .It could also be why she suddenly said she would see a docture ahe may have thought he could relieve the symptoms.

I read a couple of studies that said mid twenties and early 30s adults alomg with the elderly ,post 60s where the most common patients with Miliary TB.

Its also a cause of sudden death.

.Miliary  TB would also explain the mass of symptoms exhibited by Charlotte ,who while she seems certain to have  suffered severe morning sickness  which heavily contributed to her death ,and  was pregnant at the time of her death ( its hinted at by several people though never expressly stated on paper).She also showed clear signs of some other infection ,she had a fever and as she coughed up bloody sputum ,she was diagnosed as having  TB and therefore I imagine thats why its given as cause of death ,Excessive morning sickness was not a entirely unknown cause of death so it seems odd if a GP diagnosed something entirely different without some certain proof .

Charlotte Bronte and her pregnancy .

A doctor came and confirmed a pregnancy according to Mrs Gaskell  and Mrs Gaskell privately  wrote a veiled reference to wishing she could have been there during Charlottes last illness because she would have persuaded her to abort the pregnancy and thus save her life .It was felt by her and possibly Ellen Nussey that excessive morning sickness was the cause of her death not consumption/TB.Ellen referred to Arthur Bell Nicholls are the man who killed Charlotte,I personally feel that can only be because she felt the pregnancy was in some way  the cause of death


Click to access 187454

edition). One of the reasons for the controversy
was Mrs Gaskell’s description of
Miss Brontë’s death, which was thought
at the time to be indecently graphic.
Recently married, Charlotte Brontë was
She was attacked by new sensations of
perpetual nausea, and ever-recurring
faintness . . . A wren would have starved
on what she ate during those last six
weeks . . . Martha [her maid] tenderly
waited on her . . . and from time to time
tried to cheer her with the thought of the
baby that was coming.
From this it seems that she died
of hyperemesis gravidarum (BMJ
2012;344:e567), though her death certificate
said phthisis/

Tb infection. Who infected who ?

TB is  extremely infectious, Anne could well  have contracted TB from close association with Emily or  Branwell .Branwell could have  contracted TB from either a associate or perhaps even Emily ,while it was only noticed that she was ill after Branwell died ,in the general chaos caused by Branwell in his last months other peoples  ailments would be largely ignored  .I couldnt find any records of any of Branwells friends dying  of TB so I do wonder if Emily was the person to infect him as she surely must  be the person to have infected Anne .Anne never went to Cowen Bridge and was not in contact with TB as a governess at Thorpe Green so she couldnt have contracted dormant TB earlier.She and Emily could both have caught it from Branwell but she doesnt seem to have been noticeably ill as early as Emily was ,so it seems more likely she contracted it from her .

An unlikely possibility is that all the Brontes were infected by a pet animal.Or perhaps that one was and passed the infection around, in which case Emily not Branwell would be the person to introduce TB into the family.

Though theres an assumption that the Brontes in general and Emily in particular had poor health ,I think I would disagree,their age at death was well above the Haworth average  .

They had pets.

They lived in an extreemly unhealthy place.I  have read the Babbage report and the Brontes must have had quite strong constitutions,.The house was cold and exposed,

Winters were usually long and harsh

They lived in extreemly close proximity to an overcrowded graveyard.



Their well had not been cleaned for 20 years .They frequently exercised in bad weather.

The Brontes where in what we would now see as a high risk occupation.Whereas most people had a limited circle of friends and those friends were all likely to be from their own social class and area .The clergymen and their wives and daughters were regularly meeting people from different areas,occupations and classes.Though there is the impression that they never met or spoke to visitors Charlotte herslef mentions serving tea to guests, receiving visitors etc.


In some inner city parishes active clergymen died regularly from cholera, Typhus etc ,,(William Weightman died from a disease he contracted from a sick parishioner )Another high risk occupation was added to this,working around children (in Sunday School ),I have heard children described as bug spreading machines,,they touch their faces,hair,noses ,mouth much more than adults.are more likely to cough without covering their mouths ,more likely to wipe their noses on their sleeves or hand,much more likely to pick their noses and to forget to wash their hands after visting the toilet or handling mud,animals etc.The sisters all taught sunday school at some point as I think did Branwel. Emily I believe  discontinued her duties as teacher  but does seem to have taught at least briefly.

Lastly the Brontes travelled abroad and seemed to have been good travelers ,suffering from little sea sickness or the main trial  of travel even today,upset tummies .Traveling even to Europe wad something that could not infrequently result in tragedy , one of their friends died in Brussels .


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