York honours its King

York yesterday was the focus of several events arranged by its people to honour King Richard III ,Lord of the North.


Many of its citizens and those in the surrounding area were involved but so too were many from around the UK and from further afield ,Europe and the USA.

Its was a breezy but mostly sunny Spring day and the trees were starting to bloom providing a beautiful backdrop to the day

cherry blossum york

The highlight of the afternoon was the Guildhall celebration of Richards life.The Guildhall was the perfect setting

the guildhall window

(many thanks to Vanessa Maria Roe for this beautiful image of light shining through the guildhall windows)

The program a well thought out tribute to King Richard

program guildhall

.There was a beautiful floral tribute

Richard third event guildhall

It was well attended with no free seats .Admission was free but by ticket to prevent disappointment at the door or overcrowding,people turned up early and the Hall started to fill

guildhall 1

There was a varied but entirely appropriate program .

guidlhall band

I am indebted to the Northern Dales Richard III groups for these photos and the short account below.

A commemoration in Prayers, Readings and Music of The Most Famous Prince of Blessed Memory. The Guildhall was packed with Ricardians – a lovely, well-designed, well-executed tribute to King Richard.

FB page link


The highlight of the evening ought to have been the evensong at Yorks magnificent  Minister .

York minister sd

the spiritual heart of Yorkshire.For many who like me had been prevented from attending other events due to family or work commitments this was a long and eagerly awaited event.  The  greater part of service was beautiful and many gave their free time to supplement the normal evensong choir .The service was attended by dignitaries and minster clergy.

people leave minister

.Sadly the Dean  who had previously come to York as dean fresh from her post at Leicester Cathedral choose this service to preach a divisive sermon,I covered this elswhere .Most people left looking less than happy .

people leaving minister

The service was followed by a very well attended procession through York and a short address.

the processesion york

The Minister looked beautiful in the golden light of early evening and for me this was my last sight of York .

the minister magic hour

After the sad events in the Minister many found the beautiful and moving  Requim Mass  at ST Wilfrid,s  RC church  a great consolation

.(the photo below is from Wikipedia by Kaihsu Tai http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Wilfrid%27s,_York#/media/File:St_Wilfrids_York_interior.JPG


other had not attended the evensong  due to other commitments and for them this service was a beautiful end to the day.It also fulfilled the wishes for Richard to have a suitable Catholic service .This account is from the Churches website .

“a Requiem Mass for King Richard III on Thursday 26th March (the day of his burial in Leicester) at 7pm in St Wilfrid’s Church after the events in York Minster. This is at the request of some members of the Richard III Society who point out that King Richard left instructions for a chantry chapel in York Minster with one hundred priests to say Masses for his soul.

The celebrant will be Rt Rev. Terence Drainey the Bishop of Middlesbrough and the preacher, Fr Richard Duffield, Parish Priest of St Wilfrid’s.

The Mass will be in English with the Latin Plainchant familiar to King Richard sung by the choir.


St Wilfreds has now put up an account with images of its beautiful requiem mass


The people of York  honoured Richard with dignity and respect.

We have never needed to go “Looking for Richard” because we were never careless enough to lose him .

Richard Lord of the North may currently be entombed in Leicester but he has always and will always reign in York and in the hearts of its people

Loyalty binds us

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“You think of me as the Enemy in your midst” ,,hmm well now we do Dean Faull

I am just returned from the  special Choral Evensong at York Minister that was supposed to be in honour of Richard III  Lord of the North.

Like many I felt Richard ought to have been re interred in York Minister ,however this was not uppermost in the minds of all those I met waiting to enter the chapel to celebrate Evensong,I heard many northern accents but also many from around the UK ,I spoke  to visitors from Europe and the USA who had come long  distances to honour Richards memory in his spiritual home ,this included some ladies from the Leicester area.  We had all travelled either individually ,with friends or in some cases in groups to come to York and honour our King .

york minister 1

The Minister is breathtakingly magnificent and hallowed by centuries of prayer, the peace was palpable .The choir sang beautifully and the service was moving and spiritually uplifting .That is until the Dean gave her homily  .I had noticed at the beginning of the service when she welcomed everyone she seemed slightly nervous and I felt a little sorry for her as did others .She had been responsible for the statement saying York would not accept Richard III ,s body which probably strongly influenced opinion  against York  and had not long before been Dean of Leicester ,so I guess she may have felt a bit apprehensive. While I in common with others  may have preferred  someone else  to lead worship   we where willing to submit to the decision without too much thought she is after all Dean.

I assumed she had insisted on taking the service to build bridges and repair damage .Unfortunately this was clearly not the case.What followed was unbelievable ,utterly incredible,it was an eulogy to Leicester ,She  opened her address by admitting she had  “some trepidation” in giving her homily ,she said many of those present would be thinking of her as “the enemy in your midst”. Then plainly stated that we might have wanted Richard buried in York but the law had found against us and we couldn’t.  (apparently this statement was accompanied by a wide smile) She then stated  that he was buried in Leicester now and would shortly be sealed in his tomb there in the Cathedral.The greater part of the homily then concerned what had been done in Leicester ,how good Leicester was  and some rather weirdly reasoned comments about Leicester and its people reinventing its history ,embracing other cultures etc which had no obvious links to either the Christian faith or Richard III .There was barely any  mention of Richard III by name  what few “facts” she mentioned she got wrong,for instance she said he had reigned for “a few months” .There was no mention of his life ,his links to the North or the love of the North for him.There was actually no spiritual input to the homily either .I don’t believe that the name of Jesus Christ was mentioned even once,it was a lost chance to present  the gospel of Christ to a congregation that was probably partly composed on non church goers. Considering the content there can have been no other reason for her homily than to teach us a lesson in humility .The outrage caused by the deans address can be most clearly seen by the fact that a petition to have her removed from her post at York (started by a non attendee at the evensong  )received over 100 signatures in its first 24 hours and currently stands after 7 days at 152 signatures .This must be at least 10 percent of people at the evensong and considering the limited space  I suspect it is nearer to 20 percent or more ,assuming that many people attending do not know of the petition or may not own computers this is a huge number of people outraged by Dean Faulls behaviour.(Prior to the Thursday services homily I would not have signed the petition )

It is so very, very sad that what was supposed to be a positive thing  namely a celebration of Richards life became a platform for personal vendettas . The house of God was used to promote the Deans personal agendas and promote a city that is not  now part of her spiritual care .

She and the Minister have betrayed their spiritual duty to their congregation .They or at least Dean Faull ignored their promise on the York Minister s own website which reads

“We are working closely with other organisations in York to celebrate the life of Richard III over the course of the next 12 months. Richard III is remembered fondly in the city, and so we are pleased that City of York Council, York Minster, the University of York, York Museums Trust, the Richard III Society and the king’s descendants are working together in this way. We welcome the chance to involve York Minster’s archives and building to support commemorations of Richard III who is remembered here in stained glass, in our historic records and through the investiture of his son as Prince of Wales”


I think its fair to say that many at the service felt at least a little disheartened at what is felt ( rightly or wrongly) to have been the disrespectful events in the time leading up to the re interment of King Richard. We were wounded souls seeing solace in honouring Richard in York and looking perhaps for reaffirmation of the godliness of  the church as we had not had the best of experience of it over the the past few months.

The dean ought to have reached out to her flock ,offered encouragement and solace , She could  and should have built bridges and reaffirmed our faith in the Church.Instead she choose to  use the pulpit to kick us while we were down .

After the service while still in the minister  she was overheard by several people telling those around  her that she did not  care if she had upset people ,she was laughing on exiting the service and looked happy and smiling greeting the leaving VIPs.

An  onlooker stated

“when I was listening to her after we left the Minster, she was basically just bragging to other people that she isn’t bothered that she annoyed people by mentioning Leicester ”

I am told the Dean received a bouquet of White roses from Leicester in the days after her address.I have also had it confirmed  by several people that that York Minister had refused to allow white roses to be carried in  or used at the service and that people had been prevented from placing them under the Richard III window.While it was Lent when flowers are traditionally absent from churches ,the Minister had several other wreaths in its side chapels.Leicester Cathedral had white roses and many other flowers at the re interment .Banning white roses from Yorkshire’s spiritual centre seems quite simply wrong .

.We also discovered later that she had been on record on more than one occasion making assurances that York events would not divert attention from those in Leicester or take the focus from it.A promise she has more than fulfilled though it did not need to have been so militantly observed.

Shame on her!  and shame on the Minister! who has allowed the Dean to bring division and distress to a congregation seeking only to honour its own and were many had been keenly hoping for solace and reconciliation.

york minister dean


Here is a sample of the comments from the changeorg petition.It should also be made public knowledge that the author of the petition has had pressure put on them to remove it ,,an anonymous spokesperson from the Minister  has complained about it.Though Minster staff are clearly keeping abreast of the comments below ,no offer at an apology has been made ,only the Ministers statement to the press criticising it .

By contrast full credit to  Professor Gordon Campbell who issued a full and total apology for his factual errors which I reproduce below

I regret to say that on the Historical Note that I wrote for the Orders of Service for the reinterment of Richard III, I inadvertently substituted the birthday of Richard’s mother (3 May) for the birthday of Richard (2 October).  I also stated that he emerged into public life in 1459: the date should have read 1469.

I apologise for the error, which was entirely my fault.

Gordon Campbell DLitt FBA
Fellow in Renaissance Studies
University of Leicester

I also include a selection of comments from the changeorg petition

  • dawn bailey SCUNTHORPE, ENG
    • 6 days ago

    The Dean of York doesn’t have the interests of York at heart

  • Angela cuthbert NORTHALLERTON, ENG
    • 6 days ago

    I was there at Evensong and witnessed the travesty of the sermon.

    • Marjorie hodgkinson BRADFORD, ENG
      • 5 days ago

      How can her congregation have respect for her When it is obvious she has no respect for them. Whichever side people are on the service for Richard 111 in York was NOT the place for politics or to extol the virtues of Leicester Which is obviously where her allegiance lies. I suggests she is dismissed from York Minster, and returned to the town she think more of for the people of Yorkshire don’t want here. I for one will Not enter the Minster while she is there

      • Dee Boucher OLDBURY, ENG
        • 1 day ago

        She is obviously forgetting her flock in York and her duty to the Minster and is still feeling piqued that she has missed out on being the centre of attention in Leicester. I can see no other reason for her constantly promoting her former parish. You cannot deny King Richard’s connections to York as described by the Yorkshire Museum later that evening, the York Fabric Rolls and many documents that Yorkshire has in its archives. She couldn’t even mention one connection in her homily as if she were ashamed, which I think she has has she has discouraged even the York Minster staff from acknowledging his window and telling visitors about it.

        Sonia Dimmock NOTTINGHAM, ENG
        • 5 days ago

        She deliberately set out to sabotage what should have been a reverent service. Before she spoke it was. She is not fit to be a representative of the Church of England

      Tee Bylo  N yorks

      her contemptuous resolve to destroy the Service of Evensong at York Minster on Thursday March 26 2014 was sadly a further indication that she has neither the humility nor the understanding equal to her role as the Dean of York Minster.

      It is my personal belief that Vivienne Faull is unsuited to her calling as the Dean of York Minster and that the people of York deserve a Dean possessed of integrity and compassion.

      zi jones LLANDYSUL, WLS
      • 4 days ago

      This woman is self seeking self serving and smug. Instead of acting for good, she acted in the basest way imaginable, favouring her previous place of employment shamefully. She clearly doesnt believe in God, because she obviously has no worries about meeting him her one day to explain her wicked actions. Rumours  of threats to members of the York clergy should they push for Richard to be reinterred where he wished to be are also extremely disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated by a church commision. I would urge those members who were threatened to blow that whistle as hard as they can and make York Minster sacred ground again instead of what she has made it. A big old building you have to ay to get into.

      • Nick Ford SOUTHAMPTON, ENG
        • 3 days ago

        The Church should offer comfort to the downcast, and reconciliation where there is enmity. Dean Faull used the occasion of the choral evensong at the Minster on 26th March to crow about her co-operative achievements with her opposite number in Lecicester in ignoring the easily-inferrable wishes of the deceased. It was unChristian, petty, triumphalist and well below the standard the Church should expect of its senior clergy.

          • 3 days ago

          I am disgraced by it all

          • Gerri Andrades WIRRAL, ENG
            • 2 days ago

            Dean Faulls homily the during the service of evensong could have been such an opportunity to attempt to heal divisions that have happened between the supporters of a York versus Leicester re internment. Sadly she took an opposite line which resulted in more hurt and anger. I am only glad that from the Minster I went to St Wilfred’s RC church where a requiem mass for King Richard was said. Thanks be to St Wilfred’s.

            Wendy Saunders SYDNEY, NSW
            • 2 days ago

            Another person in the wrong place, send her packing if she doesn’t want to represent the people of Yorkshires wishes dead or alive.

            R Simmons

            I  attended the service from about halfway through – I missed the earlier comments. But most of the service I heard, Richard wasn’t mentioned at all, and when he finally was, it was all about Leicester. I too walked out. I didn’t go to York to hear about Leicester, I went to pay my respects to Richard. Dean Faull wasn’t doing that, and continued to support her former parish. It isn’t good enough, her biased behaviour has no place in the church.

            rita Jackson · Potters Bar

            I had been unwell up until Thursday and still not feeling up to travelling to York from London, but I felt I had to be there, in the Minster, to witness the commemorative service for King Richard, afterall, this was the church he loved and prayed in. To say we were let down would be the biggest understatement. This service was a Leicester excuse service, and nothing more. Nothing about Richard’s life in the North whatsoever. Dean Faull insulted us further by telling us that Richard had been king for ‘a few months’. I’m sorry to say that she’s an absolute disgrace.

            We were so much looking forward to this Service in the Minster and people had travelled from America and Australia to attent this and also the Guildhall event. The Guildhall was magnificent and the programme was filled with love for Richard and genuine Honour, Respect And Loyaulty…… We went from this to high expectations to the Minster

            Sheffield, United Kingdom

            27 Mar 2015 — “In spite of efforts to arrange a dedicated ceremony in the Minster, the Solemn Evensong was the only service they would allow. It was advertised as being “in commemoration of King Richard III” and orders of service were handed out with that title on the cover.,,,

            The ceremony was basically their usual evensong with no specific mention of Richard until around the final third of the service which was a homily delivered by Dean Vivienne Faull. To the great horror of those crammed into the tightly packed seats we very quickly realised this homily was no homage to Richard, but instead was a validation of Leicester’s right to own him. Nothing was said about Richard’s time in York. It was pure and simple Leicester propaganda. A handful of us could take no more. We got up and walked out while she was still speaking, having to walk the full length of the quire with all eyes upon us. It felt right and it felt good. I know a lot of others would have joined us, but they were so tightly packed in they were unable to get out of their seats (a genuine health and safety hazard I think).
            Also, the order of ceremony contained no specifically written words about Richard, just a reproduction of a piece written for the service in Leicester.
            Both churches disgust me.”

            The further damage done to York /Leicester relations cane been seen by reaction to the petition ,Leicester people see it as a vendetta against the Dean purely because she is from Leicester

            Lyn Studley

            What a ridiculous petition. These people are fanatics who attack anyone and anything with links to Leicester . Sour grapes doesn’t come close , they are so jealous of our city.

            Darren Blackburn · Leicester, United Kingdom

            Totally silly petition by fanatics


This was the initial statement made by Dean Faull on behalf of the minister when she refused to have King Richards Remains

“York Minster itself has a window in his memory and many reminders of Richard’s place in our story.

However, the recent verification of the identity of his remains follows a significant period in which Leicester and Leicestershire gained a sense of Richard belonging there, at least in death. It was Leicester Franciscans who gave him burial, and the cathedral has a major memorial to his memory at its heart.

When the possibility of an excavation of the Greyfriars site began, it was agreed from the start that any remains found would be reinterred in Leicester. When the archaeologists found an intact body the Ministry of Justice licence was drawn up in those terms and explicitly named Leicester Cathedral.

Since the news of the finding last year local people, like the people of York, have expressed a very strong wish that Richard, who has been with them since 1485, should stay in their keeping.

The Chapter supports the terms of the Ministry of Justice licence and the wish of Chapter of Leicester that Richard should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.”

the minister magic hour

Re the “Walk out”

A few brave souls made a dignified exit down the main nave and other left through side exits .I know some feel that if there was such strong feeling more people should have left. There would almost certainly have been more “walk outs” if the space had not been so overcrowded and cramped .

Leaving for most of us in the old narrow box pews and antique  wooden bench seats would have meant requiring others to move out of their place in the pew or at the very least gather up their things and stand up to let you pass before you could get out.There were many elderly people in the congregation who were unable to move quickly  and most of us were seated with at least some people we didn’t know .If once you had stood up one person in the pew was likely to refuse to move  then you would be stood mid pew cramped and hovering over someone in limbo.In some cases people were seated next to pews full of dignitaries which could have made leaving look threatening and caused an incident with security as the Minister now has its own self governing police force.In some cases ushers were present at pew ends and I personally felt they would have been unwilling to allow you to leave without a confrontation .I also think there was a lot of stunned disbelief  it was very hard to actually believe what was being said one of the most common comments I heard while leaving was “unbelivable”

Honestly my own thoughts through the address ran as follows, though I cant remember all the address verbatim  or its exact order after the first few words  but  the overall tenor is precise

The Deans opened with  “some of you consider me the enemy in your midst” at which I thought” well thats a bit OTT ,dont be silly “,,it also felt vaguely accusatory ., I was slightly irritated ,but I figured she was just mentioning the elephant in the room ,,that she was unpopular in some quarters.

Dean  stated  Richard “reigned for a few short months “,,,I thought WHAT .no he didnt ,,what ,,whhh

She continued” You would have liked Richard buried here ,but the law said no ,”, I thought ,,”bloody hell  thats a bit rude and confrontational ,,but true so maybe its leading to something better”,

Dean “Richard is now being interred in Leicester “,I thought “What !  really ,your going there ,,,I  know that ,but thats why I am here to honour him in york”

His tomb sealed  this night ,,”WHAT really your dwelling on that ,,for pitys sake woman!”

Now the first thoughts of escape started to surface but I was in a box pew  at the very end and  I also wasnt sure where the nearest open door was ,as I am around the height of a  taller than average  hobbit the box pew limited my view A LOT ! I sat as tall as possible in the pew trying to see  over the top looking for an open exit ,saw a few people slip  out of one opposite and wondered if I dared cross the aisle and run the gauntlet of officials.

Meanwhile the dean was talking about Leicester,,A LOT  ,its achievements ,what she had been doing etc

Now I really ,really wanted to leave ,but there was a long row of people all with bags and coats on the floor in front of them and some were elderly ,I was debating how many would stand up quickly or at all or if being directly in front of the deans pulpit it might be too confrontational.

Meanwhile on and on went the Leicester comments occasionally I would think “whhhhhat ,,did she actually really ,really say that ?”

I started a weird  to and fro argument in my head “Theres no possible explanation for this except that she is  trying to humble and humiliate  us ,she,s decided to settle old scores” ,,”no surely not shes a minister of god,”,,

“OK enough  !I don’t  want or need to listen to her ,how dare she use the house of God and the homily which is supposed to preach the word of god for her own personal agenda,I should stand up and say something” ,,nervous look at the ushers,”,maybe not “,My daughter would go barmy if she saw mum being dragged out of the minister by police and maybe I am being over sensitive and over reacting .

Several people left quietly and with dignity down the central nave ,from somewhere behind me an usher or possibly  security came quickly forward and there was muttering behind him by others , I honestly thought he was planning on stopping any further walk outs ,he looked a bit anxious .

“Ok “I thought” thats ,that I am stuck here.How can I express discontent ,,say something? ,nope bad move it  will cause an upset and bring the event into disrepute everyone will say”there you are they are all trouble makers ,bad losers,just as well they didnt get  King Richard up north.”also it just possible I will get arrested ,,that will upset becks and dad

I thought “so this is what it felt like back in time being  a dissenter or peasant forced to listen to sermons that were directed at denigrating you and your region,,,I  came quite close to tears.

My Mum had died just before Christmas and  Dad had travelled up from Wales to Scatter her ashes which we had done the day before the Evensong .I had gone to the Minister to honour Richard but also hoping perhaps for some spiritual solace as it had felt like a week of death and sadness ,futility and defeat.As a Christian of over thirty years I had naively believed the service  would give me some strength to deal with the coming week.

At the end of the service I  and some others decided to show our  distaste by pointedly sitting down as the dean processed towards the door.I felt that by then standing as soon as she had passed,it would show respect for the officials and clergy present but disapproval to the specific person responsible for bringing shame to the Minister .

As I left  it was clear people were unhappy ,I head a lot of  people saying “unbelievable ” or just shaking their heads,my favourite comment has to be an elderly gentlemen who said to his neighbour “that womans not right in her head”

I still wish I had walked out like those brave souls.

Footnote 2

After the Deans overreaction to criticism  and exaggerated tales of “threats ” after the perfectly reasonable criticism of her refusal to allow reburial in York I felt a post service photo might be in order  .Despite her rudeness and confrontational  homily she was not disturbed or worried but stood shaking hands and talking to dignitaries ,she was not accosted and was involved in the procession through York where many of those who were upset  walked in close proximity  made no attempt to speak to her.I do understand however that she was triumphalist at having given her address and unconcerned over suggestions that she may have upset people.

york minister dean

The event was covered by media from around the region and  the event despite the Dean ran smoothly and was dignified

press york minister

Footnote with regard to the petition

This is a statement from one of those concerned which all those present including myself can verify .

“A couple of further points, just to set the record straight. Firstly, none of us who walked out actually said anything. It was a completely silent and dignified exit. So if anyone says comments, abusive or otherwise, were shouted at the Dean, this is untrue.

Secondly, the petition regarding the Dean was not started by any one of us who walked out last night. Speaking just for myself, I haven’t signed it and I have strong reservations about its efficacy. Again, if anyone states it was instigated by us, this also is false.

I’ve heard various reports along the lines of “people walked out and shouted abuse at the Dean and now they’ve started a petition”, so I felt it was necessary to set the record straight on both counts. Thank you.”


Perhaps instead of choosing a bible reading on “submitting to authority” which I did find odd (or at least I found it odd until I heard the homily ) the dean ought to have considered this reading from Micah

“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise;”

The Dean may  feel she can continue to insult and denigrate the people of her parish and she may escape censor from the  leaders of church militant but she was heard and will be judged more harshly by the  Head of Church Triumphant .

With regard to King Richard may he rest in peace .

He may indeed lie in Leicester but he reigns in York and always will ,Loyalty binds us

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Thinking outside the box ,starting out on my rented city houses wildlife friendly garden. Part one keeping animals in and out

An unusual post for a costume blog but we have moved to a new house that has some wildlife challenges including a large number of visiting foxes ,several hedgehogs that passed through but didn’t visit properly.
Three grey squirrels
squirrel trex
and a range of birdlife from the tiniest of tits

blue tit and nuthatch

to magpies.

magpies feeding shed

.Originaly there were no frequent bird visitors except  around a dozen magpies of which  only four visited regularly.Two of these  looked very sorry for themselves with lost feathers ,,apparently parent magpies often get out of condition caring for their juvenile offspring’s demands (so its not just human parents who have teenagers that cause problems )
magpie parent
We also had pigeons ,both woodpigeons and the standard pigeon.

and crows

We see occasional bats pass by mostly larger ones .Add to these the smaller slugs ,snails insects and butterflies which were attracted by a very large buddleia and which I like to watch but which I also have a totally illogical fear of.
butterly one

We have pets  ,A large Norwegian forest cat that loves the outside


And a very timid part Bengal

Plus two dogs a medium sized Belgium Shepherd  and cavalier King Charles Spaniel
All these needed accommodating.I also wanted to encourage fungi and native flora.

We live in a privately owned ex council house ,so there were limits to how much we could do in the garden ,though our landlord is very happy for us to sort fences and plant small shrubs etc .Its a semi detached on a very quiet road ,but we no longer had the extensive gardens we had at our last house just a small front garden mostly pea gravel .
front garden
A narrow very short drive that provided off road parking and was concrete.
side house drive
I had to block this off with some bought railings to stop our dogs escaping and foxes getting in but its looking pretty untidy at the moment as this is still a work in progress as we rent the house and cant fix permanent gates.I am ordering shrubs for the planers next week .It keeps the dogs in and so far has kept foxes out as though the fence is short its a wide fence as there’s planters at both sides and I put the bins near by .I will be putting nicer much larger planters there in the next couple of weeks which will make it nicer and more effective.

front garden side
I don’t think it would be possible to completely fox proof the front  garden while it has its current gate which is low ,however I haven’t seen foxes in it since I made the barrier as they don’t like not being able to see clearly were they can jump and probably more importantly its much easier just to go in our neighbours gardens as they don’t have hedges.I left gaps at ground level for the hedgehogs which has been effective.
drive front

I put wire across some large gaps in the gravel part of the garden as the dogs got out through them  and the foxes came in there.The wire  isnt visible and worked well .I have a small table ,chair  ,granite slabs and planters  which focus attention on that corner rather than the more or less invisible green chicken wire
garden front pro

I also added some stainless steel “balls” which deter the magpies from settling on the ground and leave the space free for smaller birds to eat from the feeders and off the table


I have now more or less finished the front garden,The finished garden cost less than £60 including  the bench  and planters but not the chair  transfom  this

front garden

To this

front garden done


I bought some shrubs from a hedging nursery where they are much cheaper

frotn garden fin bench

A guelder  rose cost around £1 as did a pear ,silver birch ,lilac and  hazel .I also bought a Mahonia which was around £5 .I cut back the hydrangea in late winter and stuck   the prunings in a tub all of them have taken so I also planted two of those ,I have now  taken cuttings from the new shrubs and trees .I bought Hostas from a cut price shop which came up fine andsome sorry looking fruschias for £1.50 for two

The slate  and limestone chippings were the main expense at £5 each

The planters cost £2.50 each and the Bench was £25


The other side

front garden gates spring

The patch to the left of the “gates” looked like this

front garden ide b 1

now looks like this

new bench


front garden from drive finishedi

The main garden
We also have a fairly decent sized back garden with hedges.
back garden
This backs onto one of those small hundred or so sq metres of lawn with a bit of green space and mature trees that are a common part of council estate planning and encourages wildlife.However that fact  that we now live on the edge of a big city (all be it surrounded by large areas of park and woodland)I originally assumed we wouldn’t be able to attract wildlife but this is far from the case so I thought I would post a few progress reports .

My aim was to allow the foxes ,hedgehogs and a possible polecat that I see glimpses of to continue their journeys across what was their territory while ensuring our small Cavalier King Charles couldn’t escape and that if a cat was cornered by a another cat ,a fox or the polecat it could escape and have easy multiple access routes to our garden .
I also wanted to widen the bird life ,when we first arrived there was only the magpies and pigeons that visited regularly ,no songbirds and only an occasional blue tit .
First problem limiting and controlling  access
Making the garden secure ,We had a lot of foxes that passed through the garden and three semi residents that sat or lay down in it at night.
fox and vixen
Plus two juveniles that appeared often but not nightly. We also had what was clearly a foxes earth at the very end of the garden. I loved to see them but the foxes had made quite large gaps in the hedging out of which our spaniel escaped regularly as there was almost no other barrier except random panels of chicken wire and a broken picket fence along two sides. They marked their territory in the garden which I didn’t mind but our spaniel insisted on rolling in the fox poop.which made her very happy but meant fairly regularly having to bath her
tilly dirty
It was also worrying to have the quite large foxes in both the front and back gardens at night when they came within a couple of feet of the house and front door and we needed to let the dogs out to relieve themselves before bed .Despite the commonly recited “fact” that foxes are not much bigger than domestic cats several of ours are very large indeed ,,almost the same height as our Belgium Shepard dog ,though much  more lightly built.
I took photos of the foxes next to garden chairs to compare them to dogs sizes. This is one of the smaller foxes
vizen chair
Not all the foxes are timid ,though the local cats seemed to scare them and I have seen them waiting  in line behind one to eat some food that had been left out in a garden  I know all the local cats wander about at night and in the streets the foxes pass by within a few yards and tend to avoid them but I have also seen a few missing cats posters so I keep our cats in now at night. .
Also the foxes would run off our dogs ball if we forgot to put them up high ,which was funny.(I did at one point have to do something I hadn’t done since childhood and knock on a neighbours door to ask if I could have my ball back ) but it was starting to work out expensive.
.I read a great many blogs and sites that all claimed there was no way to exclude foxes from your garden and the best way to deter them was to make sure there was no food out ,unfortunately several people in the area feed them regularly and our garden is a route to those other gardens and we also had an earth that seemed currently to be unused but which had been used recently. I was determined that I would exclude the foxes completely as it was the only way to keep our Spaniel in as she’s much smaller than the foxes so were they get in she can easily get out, I still wanted to give the foxes access though so I therefore bought an metal arbour and a lot of varying widths of coated chicken wire . I made a second barrier at the end of the garden nr the earth and the fence gaps were the foxes mostly came in ,this gave a passageway behind the sheds to the food sources for the foxes and secured the garden . I did this by assembling the arbour ,which only took a hour or so and so special skills or tools as it came flat packed .I then attached the wide space gauge chicken wire to the arbour and shed up to a height of 7 feet curving it slightly at the top to create an overhang it left a wide very clear path to the other gardens.
arbour fence
I threw dog food along the alternative route for a few days and the foxes are quite happy to go that way now and don’t bother trying to get to the garden through that route .The wire is wide enough to allow small birds access to the shrubs

Though the photos above show the arbour ,fencing and the corridors looking a bit bleak I have since planted them  up with  shrubs and some plants also the undergrowth has gown over the wire ,this is our wild bit of garden and I now have a gate which goes to the semi wild  trees and grass space behind the house.

wild bit 1


and while it looks a bit untidy close up

progress hsot top garden


It looks very picturesque from the bottom of the garden and the house

garden top progress 1


I left a small hedgehog sized gap at the bottom of this and all the fencing for the hedgehogs and ground feeding birds.I planted a Rowan ,a Mahonia,a myrobalan plum ,a black current and some red stemmed dogwoods plus a couple of peony’s and  these have already established them sleeves fairly well .Expenditure on this top part of the garden including the Arbour and chicken wire was around £100,I again bought hedgeing plant shrubs and trees ,many cost less than £1 

.I feed the hedgerow birds in an overgrown part where the magpies cant get and I intend to add some much wider gauge chicken wire over the tops of some of the shrubs and brambles and plant some hawthorns to create a safe space for smaller birds to eat and nest as this should create a barrier to the squirrels and magpies and prevent the nests being raided in spring. I used green plastic coated chicken wire which is invisible from a distance (I put green ribbons at intervals to avoid the birds flying into it)The Arbour is the only thing that’s noticeable when you look up the garden ,I intend to further disguise it by adding  more native trees and shrubs to the top of the garden this winter
There were several other transient foxes that came front next doors garden through ours and out the other side into neighbours gardens all the neighbours gardens has gaps that the foxes got through and so I wanted to leave our fox visitors a route too . I blocked as many big gaps as I could with plastic mesh fencing pieces and just left ones I could get to ,I also blocked off completely large gaps in the hedge at one side .This left half of the garden with a long narrow corridor that would comfortably allow foxes along to get to the back route behind the arbour .however it meant they also didn’t have unlimited access along the fence and had to go that way .I made three of these barriers with branches pulled across in-between .The blocked off parts had gaps big enough for cats and hedgehogs to squeeze under and but not for foxes as there wasn’t enough space between the barriers which were extremely well intermingled with branches . It also meant while our cats could get in through comfortable sized gaps the route was far too restricted for a fox or our spaniel . corridor hedge

I will be sowing wild flowers in parts this gap so that theres some food for butterfly’s and bees ,I plan to plant honesty and feverfew which I have found will grow more or less anywhere .I am also gradually adding bits of rotten branches and chunks of logs from my walks to promote a nice range of bug life for the hedgehogs ,birds and as homes for burrowing bees etc ,these will reinforce the barrier parts but also provide habitats. I will further plant some climbers such as sweet briar and honeysuckle to cover the wire were its visible but not block the routes. I have already run the wire up to seven feet high on the hedge side and the top part is narrow wire to prevent big birds access, I intend to add another panel of wire higher up and curved over to enclose parts of the hedge against squirrels and magpies then add bird boxes for tits etc. Further along I am going to add wider still plastic fencing to make spaces wide enough for blackbirds and thrushes but not magpies or pigeons which are bigger
pigeon eyc


the corridor section of hedge has now been planted and looks much better ,I planted a Hawthorn ,a hazel ,mock orange blossom and pussy willow,plus a honeysuckle cutting which took well

progress shot side corridor garden
.I don’t think it would exclude a determined squirrel but later I may try to come up with something more effective.

The corridor solution is extremely effective ,we  had no  regular fox visitors  in the garden after its completion.We saw  an occasional one which was worked its way through parts of loose wire so we just fastened  bakc it down .The dogs cant get out but the cats can get in and ,the hedgehogs still come across the garden,its also a very handy way of creating protected planting spaces that your dogs cant dig up or kids run on ,it stops balls getting on the beds and it would be possible to create cat free zones for planting bulbs . While we are lucky to have a mature hedge at three sides ,this could easily be done in a more exposed garden as the fencing is supported by the arbour and where it isn’t the chicken wire is easy to support.if I were starting entirely from scratch I would use chicken wire attached to young native small trees planted at regular intervals  .I plan a second arched arbour in one corner to create a bigger song bird space . As the gardens a work in progress this was the first and to me most important part ,securing it safely for pets ,kids and for security as we do live in an area that has a large student population which is regularly targeted by burglars looking for laptop and ipad hauls. This double fencing creates a perfect burglar deterrent as its tall but too insubstantial to climb and too wide to get over .


I actualy started to miss seeing the foxes so we eventually left some gaps at staged sections so that a clever agile fox would walk in  a z shaped route but the dogs didnt realise there was a route out

Lastly with regard to limiting access.Once I started feeding birds the back garden attracted a lot of magpies and pigeons that would hang around waiting for food and the magpies scared off small birds.I sorted this problem by placing a number of shiny objects on top of the shed they used to perch on ,they now avoid spending too much time there ,most wont go on at all one perches briefly then fly’s down to the ground,I don’t mind feeding either the magpies or pigeons but did want to prevent them being a permant problem to small birds,They also terrorised our cat swooping down on her when she crossed the lawn.

Part two Will focus on how to attract a diverse bird life and creating spaces for all the birds “good” and “bad”  to feed and be happy in.

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How to make a Jane Austen era,18thc ,Regency gown ,a cheats guide ,for people who dont like sewing

Heres a very quick cheats guide to making a Regency era gown ,its the easiest way and needs nothing but a needle and thread ,some ribbon or cord and an hour or so .
There’s also some very brief background on Regency fashion and brief instructions for making some cheats versiosn of the under layers ,also at the foot of the page are some tips on Jewellery and hair.
 emma regency bonnet
You will need
1/ A sari sometimes spelled as Saree ,this will make the dresses skirt
2/A sari blouse,this will make the dresses bodice
3/ Cotton in the colour closest to the sari
4/ A needle
5/Something to use to lace up the back around 2 metres maximum less if your narrow chested .This can be very narrow curtain tie back cord or piping cord, narrow ribbon ,narrow jewellery making cord or at a pinch though not ideal string,This should be as close as possible to the sari fabrics colour.
6/ Cellotape ,gaffer tape or similar ,, Any sticky tape ,Elastoplast may work on some fabrics ,
7/Something pointy and sharp to make holes, a skewer that you use to test meat or cakes or for threading kebabs on ,a bradel or similar.
Time needed
between one and three hours
1/buy a Sari, these are very long Asian “dresses” though they are not actually a dress but a long piece of fabric with hemmed or otherwise finished edges ,these are wrapped around the body to give the distinctive Indian Sari outfit.Saris come in all style and qualities ,from plain cotton to jewelled silks.These were probably the source of many regency gown fabrics and there is likely to be a sari in the fabric you want
sari green
sari wedding
sari cotton
If you look at actual Regency gowns its easy to spot militaries in fabrics
regency traiend gown
regency ball gown

They usually around 5 metres. They often have a decorative front panel and the rest is either plain or a less elaborate pattern with an embroidered or otherwise detailed edge either side, this eliminates any need to hem your gown.
sari red 1
2/Buy a sari blouse,these come in all shapes and sizes some square necked ,some scoop necked ,some with puffed sleeves ,some with no sleeves so finding a neckline to suit your gown shouldn’t be too hard.Any sleeveless one will be good for an under gown but will need sleeves sewing in for use as a ballgown or day gown.Its also occasionally possible to find long sleeved ones but they are unusual

sair blouse  1
sari blouse 5
sair blouse puffed sleevs
sometimes blouses come with the saris and have matching trim on the sleeves as above ,this is the best choice as the colours will be identical which they might not be otherwise unless you buy plain white or black
sair white back lacing

Saris can be bought on ebay and some online Asian retailers ,or if you like in the UK from your nearest Asian store, Bombay Stores in Bradford is excellent.
OR you can buy a plain white sari blouse and a plain white sari or some white fabric or a white flat sheet ,a sheet means you wont need to hem anything .This plain white one could also be used as an underdress
3/ Note some sari blouses are closed at the front and have a small back lacing panel ,these are perfect as you will not even need to buy something to lace up the dress or do any sewing at the back.
4/If your blouse front fastens
sari front blouse
,sew up the front
sari blouse sewn
,cut the back up the middle
sari blouse cut
and turn over the edge ideally as narrow as possible and if possible twice to make it stronger at the lacing points, you could also turn it over a small length of cord to make it stronger
5/.you need to add some small holes to this with a barbecue skewer or cake/meat tester something long,narrow and pointed .
Its possible you may decide to leave adding cord or ribbon until you have sewn the skirt part onto the bodice,this makes it easier to sew the skirt on ,but harder to check what the whole dress will look like when finished before joining the skirt and bodice )
6/Use , around a meter or two metres of cord or ribbon ,,one metre if your very petite or more if your very busty.You can use narrow ribbon ,though ideally narrow cord ,curtain cord or jewellery making cord is best
7/.cellotape the edges of the cord and thread it through the holes ,you may need to poke it through the holes with the end of a pencil or blunt pointy object.
7.Tie knots in the end of the cord
The skirt part
1/ Unrole the sari and put it as flat as possible ,if it has a front decorative panel either cut this off
sari 2
or use it as a front panel on your gown.
green sari
(this also shows how your dress will look hwne the blouse/bodice and skirt are attached)
The easiest way if your a non sewer or cant view the dress on a mannequin or friend is to just remove it as it avoids the need to match the front pleats perfectly.(You could hem this panel and use it as a shawl if you leave a reasonable sized piece but don’t leave yourself short for the dress)
1A/If your under 5.4 and need the dress to touch the floor in flat shoes your lucky and don’t need to do any further cutting or much sewing.If your over 5/4 and only 5/5 /5.6 don’t mind having the dress skim your ankles you can likewise get by ,If your over that height ou will either need to cut the sari into strips long enough to touch the floor and sew each strip together to make a long strip then hem them or use the sari as it is add a trim or lace around the bottom of the finished dress to make it floor length.
2/ cut a narrow strip ,,only 4 inches wide is needed though 6 inches is best of the sari fabric ,this will go under the lacing panel on your blouse to avoid showing a gap when the dress is laced, ideally this should be stitched on and hemmed all around the edges but you could just hem the top or iron the top over and push it under the bodice when its on and not bother edging it as it wont be seen.
3/ gather or pleat the sari fabric so it looks as close as possible to a regency shape skirt,For non sewers the easiest is gathers ,you can just tie a know in the end of the cotton then do big long stitches and pull them together to make gathers,try to make the gathers mostly at the sides and back and keep the front fairly flat .This finished gathered part needs to fit around your chest just below your bust.You can check this by trying it against your bra ,crop top etc leave a few inches leeway and cut a straight opening around 6 inches long at the center of the back ,the shorter this is the better as its only to let you pull the dress over your head and is not going to fasten closed .If wanted hem this gap or iron the rough edges over so they don’t show.
3a/ For anyone wanting an accurately pleated skirt to their gown regency gowns are usually flat at the front then pleated and full at the back .
beents again
4/Arrange the gathers or pleats so they are very full near the gap and go slightly over it to hide the opening then try it actually on you.
5/Sew this “skirt” onto the bottom of the sari blouse either by turning the blouse inside out and sewing both insides /wrong sides together ,this is the neatest way .Or if you really don’t like to sew you can just sew it to the blouse ,as neatly as possible and hide the join with a big sash or piece of trim ,,this wont look good enough to wear without a sash or belt though.
6/turn the dress right side out and try it on .
7/if its a bit too loose you can just over over the lacing panel more and re add the tape.if its too short you can buy trim or lace and sew it around the hem.
8/you have your Jane Austen gown.

regency golden gown
you can make a regency “bra” by using Sari blouse and cutting out the sleeves and making a bigger neck leaving a very wide arm hole and narrow strips around the neck ,hem these edges or buying a sleeveless low back sari blouse
.Alternatively to give the impression of Regency stays being worn under your gown or to get the Pride and Prejudice Eliza Bennet look you can wear a balconette bra or underwired non padded bra,Balconettes give the closest shape to a Regency pair of boned stays.
bennet 1
.A non wired unpadded bra or cropped internal support vest top will give a softer look.
beent keira
2/Regency underskirt ,again use a sari blouse cut out the sleeves sew a narrower panel of fabric around the bottom in the same way as for the actual dress but it needs to not be gathered at the front and not as full ,either plain white sari fabric, sheeting or white cotton curtain voile .If you don’t have much fabric you can make it very narrow and put a split up the back or sides.
If you cant get a sari blouse cut a long strip of sheeting or cotton voile curtain make sure this is long enough to be ankle length.
sew the edges together making a long tube of fabric and gather this to a width that fits over your bust and directly under your arms,,as though it was a bath towel wrapped around you .
Sew ribbons or similar onto this strip of fabric ,ideally this needs to be one piece to make a strap either side ,but if this is likely to be difficult to get right you can just sew toe pieces of ribbon each side ,the put it on ,tie the ribbons tighter at your shoulders and either leave them tied or sew the ends together.
sometimes Saris have matching shawls called dupattas.
duppatta paisly
If not these dupattas can be bought fairly cheaply at Asian stores or online, they are long rectangular shawls and probably what where the original regency shawls were.You can also buy a large plain or paisley pashmina as these are also a good shape ,Regency shawls were very long rather than square.
regency shawl
regency shawl 1
outerwear ,spencers
Directions for making a Spencer in half an hour can be found on another post .though a contrasting blouse could again be used,ora retailerd and cut short cropped jacket, instructions in my next post
 regency gown
Hats ,headdresses and Bonnets
I will also do a post soon on how to make a regency bonnet from a sun hat or modern hat in an hour
Alternatively you can buy a Turban and add feathers and trims or just feathers
tiara and feather
,these can be bought from Asian Stores. Another option is to buy a velvet Beret and again add feathers. Tiaras came into fashion at this time so a simple Tiara in an appropriate style of jewelled headband can work for balls.
a plain pearl or coral necklace
regn necklace
A delicate diamanté necklace for balls or double sign of coral ,pearls etc
regenc necklace

or for day time a very simple cross with stones set into it or nothing at all.
reg necklace

This will be difficult to do accurately unless your good with curling tongs and have at least shoulder length hair.
For a simple style you can just pull it back to the back of your head and make a bun.For daytime you can cover the join between your own hair and hairpiece with a strip of fabric folded and tied

I have a hairpiece that has ringlets attached ,pull my hair into a bun and pin this over it ,you could also use a clip on short curly ponytail hairpiece.Use lots of hairspray

I now have a post on how to make a cheap and very easy Regency hat or bonnet


I am planning posts on other items such as a cheats guide 30 minute  Spencer  and a guide on how to make parasols Reticules and pockets

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“Thy master is bought and sold “.The Richard III reburial debate an overview with links

richard third

It was sad news for the North this week as it was officially declared that Leicester is to be the burial place of King Richard III bones.A judicial review found “There was no public law grounds for the court to interfere “in the plans for Richard III interment.
a legal summary is here
Its possible for an appeal to be made and also for other private legal action to be taken.
There has been criticism of the case but this is founded on the mistaken idea that this is just about two cities wanting the bones of a dead king or a group of fanatics obsessed with Richard or that it was purely at the instigation of the Plantagenet alliance.
In reality support for burial in Yorkshire or elsewhere than Leicester was widespread, international and spanned all groups of people.A list of the famous who supported the cause shows exactly how wide ranging
The list included numerous MPs, numerous eminent academics, sportsmen such as Geoff boycott and Olympic athletes, several sirs, including Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Bernard Ingram, Dame Judi Dench,
Judi Dench
, Edward Fox, actors such as Brian Blessed and Steve Coogan
steve_coogan_a_p ,
and a wide ranging diverse groups of others, such as Mike Loads
and Julian Fellows
The Facebook group “petition to Bring Richard back to Yorkshire was responsible for gaining the attention and support of academics ,actors ,writers and many others and continues its campaign to achieve a lasting and honourable resting place for Richard III lord of the North ,it can be found here
Likewise support for a burial in York and strong feeling that Leicester was inappropriate was global
The support for Leicester was by contrast quite localised or based on a finders keepers, why does it matter? attitude. Even Leicester itself seems to be aware that Richard’s home is in the North as they have recently (very graciously I felt) offered to use York stone for his Tomb.
The support base for reburial in York while significant is only part of the story and motivation for the appeals and campaigns. There are greater issues involved such as how human remains ought to be treated and how much time passes before the wishes of the deceased are ignored, what are the rights of relative and friends and when do those rights no longer matter.
The battle over the burial place of Richard the third is about more than two rival cities or the place that a single man’s bones will lie.
The issue is much wider and includes concerns about how it’s acceptable to treat human bones or remains.
riii photo bones
The campaign gained a great deal of support due to concern over how Richards bones will be treated and if they will be interred at all, these are human bones, this person was a living breathing person.
The university made a promise to those funding the dig that the bones would be treated with dignity and respect.
riii joe applyby
image source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-26790933
and kept in a respectful manner and interred promptly with due dignity. None of this occurred, the bones were at first displayed with a certain reserve
but then any attempt to respect the original undertaking was ignored, further tests were carried out and more work done on the bones.
The university made clear it wanted to keep them indefinitely for further study and place them on public display, for which there was some support in the town but mostly outrage, to the credit of its townsfolk, who were also instrumental in pushing for Richard to have a proper tomb.
Due to this huge outcry and the plan was dropped at least publicly. It’s likely there has been some display of the bones to academics or specialists to produce some of the university’s recent research. This research which has only recently been completed and would even without the review had created the delay in burial.

The university is still pushing for burial in an ossuary (box) so that they can be easily disinterred when the university wants to study them.
However the bones by the university’s own admission have been kept in very lax conditions even for archaeological specimens and in an appalling manner for human remains which seriously calls into doubt their fitness to have custody of them. The King’s remains have spent at least some of their time in a cardboard box under a broken kettle.
Lin Foxall

stated on BBC radio
We had this problem of ‘what do you do with a dead king – you don’t find them every day’– and of course what he was was a nice long box, full of bones, that’s how you store a skeletons and where you put them, so for a while he lived in my office: under a dead kettle.” -Quote from Lin Foxhall, head of archaeology at Leicester university.
Interview given BBc radio 4pm 28/10/2013
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03f92q9 (for a BBC headline quote of the relevant comment check the page of petition to bring Richard back to Yorkshire for the same date).
The University recently denied this making the following statement
“Mr Buckley insisted the royal remains were being treated appropriately.
“Richard’s remains are in a secure location at the University of Leicester – this is a lot better than under a Victorian outhouse under council tarmac,” he said.

“We cannot rewrite history and give him some kind of medieval lying in state. He was killed in battle and the new king of England, Henry VII, decided where and how he should be buried.

“The intention is for the studying of the remains to be of a limited time and for the interment to be final. He will not be put on a tray to be pulled out whenever someone asks.”
It is hoped that the remains are indeed now being kept in more appropriate conditions. Being stored with broken kitchen appliances is poor treatment for any artefact let alone human bones, it does not create good conditions for preservation or prevent contamination, it’s poor practice and for supporters of York interment shows perfectly the university’s disrespectful attitude. A paragraph from a document which lays down museum’s guidlines shows the university at variance with proper practice
2.5 De-accessioning
Claims for the return or reburial of human remains are considered in part 3. Any institution wishing to de-accession human remains in other circumstances must be pro-active in trying to establish whether any genealogical or cultural descendants exist who might wish to make a claim for return or reburial.
Many human remains, for example those disinterred as a result of rescue archaeology, are removed on the authority of a Department for Constitutional Affairs licence or Church of England faculty. The method of ultimate disposal, after study, should have been stated clearly on the licence or faculty, and burial (or, occasionally, cremation) or retention of the remains will be included as a condition of the licence or faculty.
Through consultation with the relevant statutory and religious authorities, reburial or respectful storage in designated, marked, sites may satisfy the requirements of the law and religious or civil tradition and need not remove the remains altogether from the purview of scientific study in the future.
Where no mode of disposal is specified, the remains must be disposed of safely and respectfully in a sealed container. The Human Tissue Act 2004 also deals with these matters. In the case of burials from Christian contexts in England the CofE/EH 2005 guidance should be used.
The full guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF here
The document is called
Guidance for the care of Human Remains in Museums.
The university has never shown particular care over the bones, it damaged them significantly with a mattock while excavating. This was captured in the channel 4 documentary and readily admitted to and later confirmed by Dr Appleby in interviews.
richard iii skull
Yet something else that has been ignored since, but increased support for a burial outside of Leicester, the clumsy excavation damage to leg bone, possibly by a JCB or mattock and more especially the Skull caused outrage online amongst many and not just so called Yorkists.

This does not inspire people with confidence in a dignified burial if left in control of the city and university. As a human being and a King Richard deserves a burial and should not have his bones publicly displayed or interred in such a way as to facilitate disinterment whenever the university want to do more tests.
Also at variance with correct practice was the disregard for Richards wishes
Despite earlier widespread claims that Richards wishes were unknown.
The letters content was made public just days after the judicial review result but it is inconceivable that the academic community did not know about its contents previously ,creating distrust of Leicester university
Another issue is King Richard’s right to a Roman Catholic burial in line with his beliefs and his right to be buried on Roman Catholic consecrated ground and in an manner that would honour his beliefs.
The Cathedral in Leicester is post reformation so the ground would not be considered sanctified and originally there was no intention of providing any Roman Catholic input, it has taken an e-petition for some backtracking on the issue but plans are still not inline with the correct manner of burial. Richard despite later being covered by a car park had been buried in Catholic sanctified ground, he has now been removed from that. Though this seems an abstract concept its something of importance to many.
(I realise that its been suggested that Leicester cathedral is in fact pre reformation as there was originally a church on the site but the then St Martins suffered widespread destruction during the reformation ,the current church does not occupy the same space and claiming that one bit of ground is the same as the other would logically mean that Richard III bones were just as well interred under the nearby car park.
http://leicestercathedral.org/about-us/history-of-leicester-cathedral/ for the pro pre reformation case
The official Church of England guide which details the extensive restricting and expansion is here
Likewise the cathedral has backtracked on its promise to provide a fitting tomb, it had promised a table tomb like many medieval tombs, so certain was this decision that money was raised by Richard’s supporters for the expenses of the tomb’s construction and its design had been discussed in enough detail for the media to provide images alongside their reports.
richard iii RS tomb
However the cathedral changed its mind and said there would only be a slab in the floor which would be more or less similar to the memorial slab present at the moment.
Claiming it wanted something modest
“The bones of Richard III should be reburied under a modest slab in the floor of Leicester Cathedral, “a place of dignified simplicity” rather than a grandiose modern reinvention of a medieval tomb, the cathedral authorities have decided – in a move that will do nothing to resolve the debate over where and how the king should finally be buried”
source Guardian newspaper march 2014)(
RIII current tomb
This plan was again changed to a more modern very plain raised tomb,
riii  new tomb
which it seems didn’t meet with the church buildings and fabrics authority’s approval and due to widespread criticism the Cathedral promised a different more fitting version .This new version is for the most part identical to the old version except for the removal of the Rose and addition of a black plinth
“Dean Monteith said: “This is a tomb which reflects the era in which it is designed, as well as the solemn purpose for which it is commissioned. ”
The updated version which is an answer to those concerns is here
new tomb
Even the Cathedral itself agrees that this tomb is widely regarded as inappropriate
It’s been very interesting reading the reactions to this final design, with the earlier idea of the rose inscribed on the floor replaced by a plinth in dark marble with the royal coat of arms emblazoned on it in pieta dura (‘hard rock’!). Some – predictably – remain opposed, often forcibly, and there’s no shortage of disparaging descriptions coming from that quarter (‘cheese slicer’ is one of the more whimsical), including some well-organised lobbying from the four quarters of the globe (including Tasmania). But there’s also been some encouragingly positive discussion in other places, as people engage with how we’ve described what we’re doing, and found themselves coming to appreciate it more and more. I can recommend the Facebook group King Richard in Leicester – which describes itself as ‘a friendly place for interesting discussions’. It is – both of those things, that is. And nothing to do with us here at the Cathedral.
.A brief summary of the tomb issue as it unfolded can be found here.
Tomb issues raised concerns about later treatment of the gravesite. The cathedral hosts vintage fairs /flea markets in the actual sacred space ,the church is cleared for stalls.
leic 2

leic fair
photocredit (http://minimummouse.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/2011-festivals-fairs-and-fun.html)
The frequency and continuance of which was confirmed by the Cathedral staff as reported by a local newspaper.
“Claire Recorden, from Leicester Cathedral’s marketing team, said: “The LouLou Vintage Fair is held in Leicester Cathedral three times a year. The next one will take place on November 30.”
Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Visitors-bag-bargains-vintage-fair/story-19808459-detail/story.html#ixzz32lRhW7vf

Read more at http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Visitors-bag-bargains-vintage-fair/story-19808459-detail/story.html#FMO2ySqwtgTZ80JJ.99
One writer commented
“I was disgusted to read of the UK’s biggest vintage fair being held in Leicester Cathedral”
Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Cathedral-market/story-18232955-detail/story.html#ixzz32lQVoR7j
and futher comment can be found here

Read more at http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Cathedral-market/story-18232955-detail/story.html#dYDToc74oP7Uwdqs.99
Its possibly this and other events which made the cathedral reluctant to provide a proper tomb
again from their own publicly released statement
“According to the design brief: “They will be reluctant to site a large memorial in the cathedral which would assume disproportionate significance in a modest building and cannot easily be located in any position in which it would not restrict the capacity of the building on major occasions.”
leic fair
“It is unlikely that a large table top tomb or effigy would be acceptable to the chapter or the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE),” it says.”

Update now the re interment of Richard in Leicester is complete the final design can be confirmed by the photographs of recent events

Tomb leicester-richard-_3246746k

There have been no fixed and approved designs made public for any further memorial except for ongoing discussions about a memorial window, the design for this window has been produced and made public but there is as yet no funding, the window features
“a battle scene and a man’s body on the back of a horse being led through the streets. They are said to be generic images suggestive of Richard’s story.”

Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/King-Richard-III-commemorative-window-designs/story-20609405-detail/story.html#ixzz32lKxYZ7
Read more at http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/King-Richard-III-commemorative-window-designs/story-20609405-detail/story.html#LmhPblrArR5VZVx6.99 funding has not been found and permission from the buildingsd commission is still pending.
and is unlikely to be as attractive as the window at Cardiff castle.
A further immediate concern was the clearly stated intention of the cathedral staff to focus on Richard’s sins and alleged sins in their funeral oration thus further blackening his name. A selection of quotes from Cathedral staff show at the very least ambivalence.


“What has this to do with Richard? He won’t have beloved artefacts in his ossuary. Well one thing he wasn’t was a saint!
or in defence of their approach to Richard’s burial
“The phrase we repeatedly use to describe our approach is Dignity and Honour. And that’s not because it’s a slogan. We really mean it. The Dignity we all owe each other as human beings, made in the image of God. And the Honour a nation ought to show to its former King – however divided we may be as to his personal qualities, or the nature of his reign”
contrast that with their initial statement
“it should not be forgotten that Richard demonstrated both the honourable and dishonourable characteristics of human beings.

“Opportunities for prayer and reflection should focus on themes of sin and redemption, justice and peace, as reflected in our history and our present.”

The cathedral’s Richard related material is here
Though in fairness to the cathedral they did publish an entire page on Richard’s many achievements
However its approach has often fallen short of the “dignity and honour” it claims to have as its guiding principle. Its also made little if any attempt to read Richards own words and contempory reports .It claims
“What are we wanting to do, when we reinter the remains of a long-dead monarch? Not mourn him, surely? No-one living knew him, and at this distance in time it seems to me no-one can possibly know who he ‘really’ was or what he was ‘really’ like. The best that we can manage is speculation.
Yes this is not true any Christian reading another Christians thoughts or seeing their public statements can see exactly what they are thinking and their motivation ad its very clear Richard was extremely devote.
Also logically if you can never know anything about people long dead,,how exactly do Authors and Historians and the University of Leicester’s staff make any kind of credible living and why are there’s thousands of reputable universities across the globe running History courses .
The cathedrals perceived monetary attitude has attracted the criticism of many not just those favouring York Burial but even the decidedly secular Private eye commented.
Nooks and Corners column in Private Eye, No.1351, 18-31 October
“it is odd that so much passion has been engendered about which Anglican church should house the body of a medieval Catholic monarch who was scarcely a national hero or founding father. As far as the Dean and Chapter was concerned, what mattered was ‘the possibility of the cathedral and its surroundings becoming a tourist attraction,’”
“for all their ideas about dragging the cathedral into the 21st century, the Dean and Chapter are behaving like their superstitious medieval forbears, for every pre-Reformation cathedral needed a prominent shrine to rake in money from the pilgrims”.
I am indebted to the site below for the Private Eye reference
(The site is not pro York and is an interesting read)
Yet despite being certain to benefit from the presence of Richard’s bones the cathedral has been unwilling to spend money on a fitting service and interment,the budget is small as admitted by the Cathedral on their Fb page
The aspirational budget for this is £2.5 million – a rather small sum in comparison to other major public occasions.
Aspirational means the amount is dependent almost entirely on donations
The word ‘aspirational’ means we can only do it all like this if we raise the money, of course. But then, we’ve never pretended otherwise. And we’re quietly confident that we will.
This is slightly disingenuous as just a few paragraphs below he makes the very public statement that
Monteith, the Dean of Leicester Cathedral, has explained the considerable efforts and expenditure invested by the Cathedral in order to create a lasting burial place “as befits an anointed King”. We agree that it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest
The one certain honour to be accorded Richard at his burial will be from Dr John Ashdown-Hill who has commissioned a magnificent crown.
(photo credit Dr John Ashedown-Hill
funeral crown Dr JA hill
Dr John Ashdown-Hill was responsible for much of the research and impetus behind discovering the body but has been largely ignored perhaps due to modesty but also due to the the policy of downplaying the key role of academics not connected to the university.
Likewise there are concerns for Richard’s long term reputation, the tourism industry now starting up around Richard will inevitably focus on the now academically discredited view of him as a murderer, usurper and monster as portrayed by Shakespeare. The illustrations to the Richard iii exhibition at Bosworth battlefield for instance are not particularly flattering to Richard.
bosworth riii
In York he has always been respected and remembered with affection, though tiny due to its funding by donations and legacy, York has always had a museum to his memory which presented a positive view of him.
Furthermore with regard to interment, it seems most likely Richard intended to be buried in Yorkshire, he founded chantry chapels and the largest was in York, these were usually created in places intended to be the site of burial.
There is no record of one in Leicester. Richard was so attached to the North and York that he made an extended visit there shorty after becoming king and favoured the city and the north throughout his reign.
This was something that probably cost him valuable and essential support at court and was almost certainly a contributing factor to his death and defeat.
There is still strong deeply felt outrage in the north over Richard’s treatment in Leicester. His body was striped and abused,
“The team found 10 wounds to his body in total, including a “humiliation” stab wound to his right buttock and several to his trunk that were likely inflicted after his death; there was also evidence that his hands had been bound.
humilation wound rib
(damage rib from a post mortem stab wound)


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-battle-over-richard-iiis-bonesand-his-reputation-14232878/#8T8rkGrqzSJDu0Qf.99

buttock wound
This indignity probably occurred while his body was being taken back to Leicester as its recorded his body was strung naked, trussed over a horse. He was then laid out naked and dirty and bloodied to be viewed, while it was normal to put dead monarchs on display doing so naked and dishonoured was not.
The friars obviously tried very hard to give him a decent burial as far as they were able, it is thought king Richard was probably buried with some rites and in hallowed ground but they had no way to give him a decent service, the grave used was too small and there was no shroud even which is almost unbelievable for a Christian burial even plague victims in mass graves are usually shown to have been in a shroud. Leicester made no effort to find his bones, the only major interest was from outside funded excavations, including the one which discovered his remains.

The university’s own publicity pack shows the substantial financial contribution made towards the dig by sources
University of Leicester announce the costs of the Richard III project

The search was instigated by Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society. The University led the dig and the scientific analysis. The funding for the project is shown below and we thank all the funders.

Funder Excavation & Post Excavation Total % Contribution
of Leicester* £19,935 £94,115 £114,050 80.0%

(My note,the university’s expenditure was for the most part post excavation, that is to say once the bones of Richard III had been found. Previous to that their expenditure was £19,000 only £1000 more than the contribution of the RIII society making their initial percentage closer to that of the Richard III society. Their actual contribution was in fact lower than the society as they have included in their contribution £1300 donated to them by the public to finance the excavation see the university’s own text at base of the figures)

Richard III
Society £18,083 £18,083 12.7%

Leicester Shire
Promotions £5,000 £5,000 3.5%
Leicester City
Council £5,000 £5,000 3.5%

Leicester Adult
Schools £500 £500 0.4%

Total £48,518 £94,115 £142,633

*University funding includes £4,970 committed to under-write LCC which was later paid by LCC. The University’s funding includes £1,300 in public donations to finance the work.
The money raised by Leicester’s citizens and donated to the university makes clear some of the citizens feel a genuine interest and affection for king Richard especially as this is a city that is not doing well during the current economic climate and provided by people who would reap no rewards. However the council and university showed very little interest in him their contributions being a mere £5000.
see footnote for further table)
While much has been made of Richard’s connection to Leicester there is no actual historical link beyond his night spent prior to the battle and the time his corpse was displayed there. The statue that has been a focus of the city’s efforts to show their affection for Richard was provided by donations from the Richard III society and has been vandalised repeatedly (hence the need for it to be restored).
Statements from Leicester have been almost entirely focused on what Richard can do for the town.

City councillor Ross Willmott said: “The discovery of Richard III is wonderful news, yet there remains something of a mystery about what happened to Wolsey, who rivalled Henry VIII in wealth and power and was one of the most significant political figures of the era.

“Arguably, he is far more influential than Richard III. To discover his remains would help tell the story of another historic figure linked to the city.”
By contrast York has stressed that it wanted the return of its King, its campaign slogans being “Bring him Home, those campaigning using the plural of Richards motto Loyaultie me Lie, Loyalty Binds us. The talk was always of returning Richard to his home. To be fair York would not significantly benefit from Richard’s burial there and already have a thriving tourist industry. Leicester by contrast saw a huge influx of visitors and in the midst of a recession it must have been like manna from heaven for the town.
In contrast to Leicester the desire to have Richard returned to York for burial was from the bottom up. Local people were so insistent that Richard be buried in the area that the minister who had at first refused to consider burial there did a small u-turn
The statement that York minister didn’t want Richard came from fairly recently arrived Dean, previously Dean of Leicester, and it was felt she had acted outside her authority in making the statement despite an attempt to backpedal.
<Dean Faull, who until her appointment at York last summer was the Dean of Leicester, has maintained a “neutral” stance over the issue. /
This was unfortunately the occasion of the only blot on the campaign for York burial, though condemned by all those campaigning for York burial and in no way indicative of the tone of the campaign it does seem the Dean received abusive mail. Not, however as was claimed, death threats. The official statement by the minister is here as is a link to the story
“York Minster Spokesman • 11 hours ago −”news emerging this week that death threats have been made to the Dean of York” is inaccurate. The official statement reads:
“York Minster has received a number of letters about Richard III, a small number of these have been abusive. These have been passed to the Minster Police, and they continue to monitor the situation closely.”
York Minster has declined to reveal any more details about either the content or the origin of the letters.’
The nature of the abusive mail was never revealed and could have amounted to no more than the angry outbursts of people feeling they had been betrayed. There was never a suggestion that any threatened violence. It also makes clear that MOST letters merely expressed strong feelings
In the north Richard is remembered with love, respect and affection and especially in Yorkshire. For many he is remembered as Good King Richard, his short reign was the only brief time when the north was treated with favour. He was in his lifetime loved and respected deeply. He spent much of his life in the North and especially in Middleham
(photo credite English Heritage)
It’s clear Richard was in turn fond of York, calling his return there a homecoming. He favoured the North and York. He chose York for the investiture of his son as Prince of Wales in a ceremony and celebration so lavish that later historians have mistaken it for a second coronation. For the original accounts and a summary please check here. The writer’s interpretation of the request to provide rich cloth has been challenged by a wider study showing that Richard wanted to promote the North
It is also now clear Richard would have wanted a York Burial
An unfavourable but concise account of Richard reign recounts the story and events
It has been claimed York let Richard down at Bosworth, in fact one of its great lords died at Richard’s side and this was despite being warned Richard had been betrayed (the header to the post is based on a note that is said to have been placed on the lord’s tent warning him the cause was already lost and not to fight. York often sent forces and funds to him and only delays outside their control caused their failure to send more troops to Bosworth. It made a brave statement of support for Richard when news of his defeat and death reached the city on the day after the Battle of Bosworth,
king Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was thrugh grete treason of the duc of Northfolk [sic] and many other that turned ayenst hyme, with many other lordes and nobilles of this north parties was piteously slane murdred to the grete hevynesse of this citie …’

York city archives, Minutes of the council of York,indeed a lord who was believed to have betrayed Richard at Bosworth was later publicly lynched.
Likewise the Legal proceedings have been blamed for the delay burying Richard and yet the University is primarily at fault as it has until recently insisted it keep the remains for study
The University likewise is being challenged as to its right to be “custodian of the bones due to its refusal to honour an agreement with Ms Langley
As a footnote to this story
The university is also under fire for refusing to give due credit to the academics who did most of the research for the grave site and raised the funds for the dig
This has never been a wars of the roses, many people have been balanced in their views on the opposing towns, many can see why it city’s people would want Richard and accept they are interested in him, however there is certainly strong feeling about the way the authorities in Leicester and the University have behaved. There is also very strong feeling that Richard should not rest in the place of his defeat and humiliation, that Richard as lord of the north, is a fallen warrior king who deserves to rest with his own.
Supporters of York with a few exceptions bear no ill will to Leicester’s towns people, argument focuses on not current residents but on history and a sense of loyalty to and desire for justice for King Richard

footnote the teams finding on the humiliation wounds
“The team from the University of Leicester said that the body displayed 10 wounds, 8 of them in the skull and some likely to have caused death, possibly by a blow from a halberd, a kind of medieval weapon with an ax-like head on a long pole. Other wounds seem to have been inflicted after his death to humiliate the monarch after his armor was stripped away and he was paraded naked over the back of a horse, the researchers said.”
detailed account of the various legal challenges, on testing on the remains and other related issue can be found here
The universitys own excavation report is here
The official review of March 2014 is printed in full here
Statements between the cathedral and university are here
For a readily accessible viehttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-III-Contemporary-Chronicles-Letters/dp/1781553130w of Richard by contemporary sources there is an excellent book
or an online collection ,though shorter can be viewed here
For Leicesters investigation on the mixed York support for Leicester.
Interviews on reaction to the review results can be found here
Notes on treatment of human bones for comparison with the university practices ,This is an independent scholarly article. It also explains why there was opposition to further testing ,production of moulds for reconstruction etc as most of the process involved risks to the skeleton
Re dean of York Ministers employment record

York Minster

November 2012 – Present (1 year 7 months)

Dean of Leicester

Leicester Cathedral

2000 – 2012 (12 years)

Also Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals
Dean of York from Dec 2012

Canon Pastor and Vice Provost

Coventry Cathedral
A good overview of opinion about Richard III in Leicester can be found here
heres a brief selection that is fairly representative of the opinions most commonly expressed

The extensive works around Leicester Cathedral have been going on now for a considerable time and must already have cost millions, just to enhance a burial place for a king with an extremely dubious reputation.

I, for one, would like to know who is paying for all this?

The promised long-term pay-off in terms of tourist revenue can only be a guess at best – and my guess is that initial interest will dwindle quite quickly.

The cost to retail businesses in that area during this expensive revamp must be dire because of its continued inaccessibility to cars.

When it is finished, it will become yet another Soulsby-inspired pedestrianised area which will exclude the disabled from parking close by, as applies to much of the city centre already.

John Yates, Glenfield.

On the pro Richard side

“So glad that the High Court has upheld the licence, properly applied for and granted, allowing this tragic and much-maligned young king to be given a dignified reinterment in Leicester Cathedral.

As a Blue Badge Guide, I have been leading Richard III guided walks for 20 years.

He was always an important part of Leicester’s history. Now at last he can stay here, as he has, just yards away, for more than five centuries.

Colin Crosby, Leicester.

Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Glad-Richard-s-staying-city/story-21146431-detail/story.html#CkcZYXMEP3ApVUdI.99#ixzz32y6mROk2

Read more at http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Glad-Richard-s-staying-city/story-21146431-detail/story.html#wHyj80Z9yiwusWHP.99

Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Glad-Richard-s-staying-city/story-21146431-detail/story.html#CkcZYXMEP3ApVUdI.99#ixzz32y5otUO4

Read more at http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Glad-Richard-s-staying-city/story-21146431-detail/story.html#wHyj80Z9yiwusWHP.99
excavation details
dig figuress

ricjard signature
leicester costs dig
I am deeply indebted to the following for information and links which helped with creating this post
Kim Harding BAhons
Draj Hibbard,BA hons,MD
Patrica Rice Jones
David Atkin

Foot note.

Sadly King Richards re interment fulfilled all the worst prophecies of   those who felt Leicester was only interested in its tourism benefits and that it would be penny pinching and undignified.A strange mix of cheap modern practicalities and flashy medieval  display to make the tourists happy.What little dignified input existed was from Richards distant relations or other Richardians


It was touching that Richards descendent had made the coffin and its  well made simplicity probably reflects the limited resources made available  to him by Leicester but at least  its been made lovingly ,by hand ,by someone emotionally tied to Richard .Likewise the linen covering is beautifuly worked and made with loving care ,Very movingly Veterans stood vigil at  the warrior kings coffin,something I am sure Richard would have been deeply moved by


But for the rest it  has been  sad to see the lack of effort ,the use of the easiest cheapest methods and exploitation of the reburial to promote elements of Leicester Quite independently of pro York  views  its clear the world can also now see why Leicester wanted King Richard.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A possible Bronte Photograph?

As I have occasionally been asked about the possible “new Bronte Photograph “,it has a fascinating history and is interesting in its own right .I do not however belive it’s a photograph of the sisters.

three.sisters.ambrotype.x400Photo from   http://www.brontesisters.co.uk/ please follow the link to find our more about its discovery and the case put forward by the owners for its authenticity.

I firmly belive the photo is from the early 1860s or late 1850s ,depending on where it was taken.This is primarily because of the hat the standing girl is wearing .This style of hat only became widely fashionable for women  in the very late 1850s and outside  of fashionable circles would have been common only in early 1860s.Hats were  extremely uncommon for formal wear in the 1840s .

I know this is a point the photographs owners have considered and their views and research are here


I  would disagree with their  findings as they have not closely considered context, not considered that the word  hat might  be exchanged for bonnet in some accounts and not examined stylistic details  closely enough, small details that seem irrelevant can distinguish  styles separated by decades, fashion often revisits the past for inspiration ,consider the 1980s  and late 1990s when 1940s style fashions were popular with designers and the high street stores alike ,its easy to pass many of these clothes off as genuine 1940s clothes at 40s weekends and often an 1980s 40s revival jacket can be impossible to distinguish from an 90s jacket  unless you pay attention to the fabrics ,colours and small details like labels  buttons or pockets finishes

.Likewise  they have not fully included relevant details probably because they are not experts on the Bronte’s life and letters so  were not aware of them ,eg the comment on the site supporting the wearing of a hat by the Brontes includes an incident in London.

When Charlotte Bronte visited the studio of George Richmond in 1850 she was asked to remove her hat, not a bonnet. (,my note this is true but in this quote Richmond goes onto to mention that he mistook Charlotte’s very poor quality hair piece for a small cap or hat ,,)

An assortment of 1840s and early 1850s images

I have collected together a diverse group of images  from 1840s and 1850s  which show bonnets in assorted styles were the usual form of headwear for women of all classes, though I have focused primarily on the middle classes as the Bronte were from roughly this strata of society

Ford.madox.brown.last.emma.study 1853(Photo wiki commons from Wikipedia’s fashion page

this is a preliminary sketch for

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_fashion . I  use a lot of Wikipedia’s images as they are  non copyright but I don’t in any way endorse Wikipedia as a reliable source of information)

1840s-hatsThe photos above are from an excellent post which can be seen if you click the link below ,the post there also shows a later image of an almost identical hat to that in the photo of the three young lady’s


Costume collections  don’t have any extant hats like that in the photo from 1840 they do however have lots of bonnets.

Below is an early 19thc bonnet

green and white silk bonnet

The bonnet below is from the Bronte parsonage museum collection

bronte-bonnet-parsThere are at least two possibly three bonnets in the museum collection and the sisters mention buying bonnets but never mention buying hats.(The only hat in the collection is a quite pretty  petite straw one worn by Ellen Nussey )

True small hats in a similar style were fashionable in earlier decades in the  1760s /1770s.These were Berger hats ,shallow crowned and usually flat rimmed ,there are only a very few 18thc hats have turned back rims.The hat below from the Met Museum (metropolitan museum of art )shows the common style and shape of the hat which varied only in size ,fabric and trims across classes.

Bergère-hat-18th-century-British-straw-Met-401x500(Theres a full description with images of the Berger hat  in all its forms here http://thedreamstress.com/tag/terminology/page/3/


It’s true that  quite similar hats were worn from time to time in the early Victorian era. However  in Britain  they were not usually worn not for everyday wear and not often at other times .The fashion plates below show the difference in both shape and use .The fashion plate below is from Goodeys ladies magazine 1842 and indeed both women wear hats not bonnets

goodys 1842However one lady is riding and hats not bonnets were always worn for riding as bonnets would interfere with the riders vision and would also be quite hot and cumbersome ,the other lady is in summer  wear and does again wear a hat but  though its a wide-brimmed hat,it has a much deeper crown and  has ribbon ties and lace trims ,It’s probably showing the kind of clothing ladies would wear in their gardens etc as the woman is wearing neither gloves ,mittens or a shawl and no lady would leave the house without gloves and a shawl or mantle .

Where outdoor  public or formal wear is shown the women always  have on bonnets as can be seen from the fashion plate below which is from a few months later in 1843.Note the ladies are also either in mantles or in the case of the lady in blue carrying one

1843 fashion plateLater fashion plates  from around the time the photo was supposed to have been taken also show hats  but again  they are not everyday wear  and those on adults don’t resemble that in the photograph,one lady is in riding habit .The  plat does show one other hat which is on a young girl  and as  the photographs  owner show a photograph of a child in a hat ,I thought this worth commenting on ,young girls did wear straw hats  and often similar hats to that in the photo but they were not adult clothing  and would have been seen as such ,ladies wouldn’t dream of wearing a children’s  fashion  just as the ladies in the fashion plate would not dream of wearing knee length skirts .

journal des femmes 1847What is also noteworthy in this image is that despite the range of headwear  the woman in her everyday clothing has on a close-fitting bonnet .This fashion plate is from 1847 and is around the latest time the photo if genuine could have been taken .It’s also unlikely the Brontes would have followed fashion closely enough to have the new seasons clothing ,indeed we know they were usually considered if anything  old fashioned.In the two years 1846 and 1847 there is no major fashion magazine showing hats as everyday wear



The first time a hat of a vaguely similar style starts to appear is in the late 1850s .

450_1859_FashionPlateAThese hats  are still flat brimmed with fairly shallow crowns  and most importantly still have ties. It’s not until the early 1860s you see fashion plates regularly show hast of a style identical to the hat on the standing figure in the photo and minus their little ties.

godey's summer 1862(Goodys magazine summer 1862)

1862 hats

For a more in-depth collection of fashion plates try the page link below


The girls cloaks

Another problem with the girls clothing is the mantles or cloaks they are wearing .They may be early Victorian  but one seems to be made of velvet .This is the one on the seated face on girl ,velvet was extremely expensive and a fabric outside the reach of the  Bronte sisters for everyday clothing .

Patrick does seem to have treated his children  to the odd luxury Anne wears a fine gauze overgrown for her  16th birthday portrait painted by Charlotte and  a fairly plain brown gown does exist at the parsonage which has a quite wide band of velvet added at  its hemline which was probably  to make the gown longer  so its possible they may have had  some velvet item of clothing  in the past but it seems unlikely that was something as mundane as a cape ,,it would also have been unseemly for a governess to wear something as luxurious as a velvet cape or mantle and it would have definitely been considered uppity in a middle class parsons daughter.

The mantles  could possibly be late 1840s are its hard to see but they seem much more like these below from 1859

1858 fashion plate

for descriptions of Victorian outer layers and more images please check out the excellent fashion era website which as lots of fashion plates and articles


The girls gowns

All the girls  in the photo are wearing full-skirted gowns these were becoming fashionable in the late 1840s but were not often this wide and  its unlikely that the three sisters would all have had such full skirts as you need a lot of  fabric .Fabric was  the main expense for any item of clothing ,the fabric  for a gown often cost more than a seamstresses wages for making a gown,we know from Bronte correspondence that even when Charlotte was becoming financialy comfortable she was thrifty about fabric costs and Emily and Ann would certainly not have enough disposable income for yards and yards of surplus fabric .

They are also wearing  a lot petticoats to create the dome shape in the photo.The standing figure in particular  is wearing a lot of petticoats ,you can see the curve of them under her mantle ,assuming  as is suggested that the standing figure is supposed to be Emily then this directly contradicts what little we know of Emily .She  did not wear a large number of petticoats and in fact objected to wearing even enough to look fashionable.She was described as refusing to wear extra petticoats in Brussels as she wished to be “as god made her” Mrs Gaskel comments on Emilys skirts being straight and Emily as the housekeeper would be unlikely to have worn bulky and hot surplus layers ,all of which would need laundering and starching and ironing.

A final note of costume

I belive the owners suggest a date shortly after Branwells death ,but if that were the case the girls would all be in full mourning this was always head to toe black and the girls in the photograph are not in mourning  ,sadly Emily and Anne both spent their final months waiting for their own deaths dressed in mourning for those who they had lost.

Purely subjective and personal thoughts on the photo

I don’t think Emily would have chosen a hat when she could wear a bonnet they wouldn’t stay put for more a few seconds once outside the parsonage without a hat pin and even then it would be difficult.They are cold and the wind would make your ears sting once outside on the moor they would get wet and ruined and they don’t properly shield your eyes from the sun in summer.


The background of brick is out-of-place for Yorkshire I can’t think of anywhere in Haworth with light coloured brick walls and there’s nowhere else that all three sisters would have been at the time possible for the photo.Its just possible the “bricks” are stone but even so they seem to me to be the wrong texture ,size and shape and colour for the locality, I include a photo of the parsonage front for comparison  ,while had the photo been taken at the Red house in Gomersal ,which was  charlotte’s friend the Taylors home, then the brickwork is too light .

Emily Bronte Parsonage

Its far too “staged” for a normal family portrait compared to most other similar photos of the time .It looks to me like girls “playing dress up “for a fun photo or perhaps its part of a posed photo for an event or play.I doubt however the girls in the 1860s were dressing up as the Bronte sisters as not  all  the three sisters were not popular then .I would buy the idea that it’s a photo to use as a  preliminary  “sketch ” for a line  drawing for a book perhaps Mrs Robinson’s “Emily Bronte” but not a photo of the sisters or a copy of a photo of the sisters.


If the  standing figure is Emily she’s quite plump and curvy ,not something anyone ever described Emily as being and  if this was after Branwells death Emily was already ill ,shes not reported as being seen outside the Parsonage again after Branwells funeral and though Charlottes letters talk about her own  and her family’s ill health in general just after Branwells death  which  also makes the photos dating seem unlikely and its not very long after Branwells funeral she begins to worry  more specifically about Emily’s health  in the final months of her life she  quite quickly became extremely thin and finally utterly emaciated.


all the girls have thick glossy hair.Emily does seem to have had thick and lovely hair which she wore up in a similar style to the  standing lady in the photo but Charlotte had very fine hair and Anne’s hair was never described as being thick or full.


Lastly the photo seems too clear to be an early photograph  from the 1840s most early photographs /daguerreotype ,tintype ambrotype etc all lack a certain clarity and the poses are more set it seems much more likely to be an 1860s photo.

Theres a great collection of Victorian portrait photos here for comparison

Or perhaps it a post-mortem photo of the girl seen side on these photos were occasionally quite staged looking more so than normal photos and post-mortem photos were very still very common in the 1860s .

I feel sure the owners genuinely  belive the photo genuine but I don’t belive it to be a Bronte photograph

Further reading

There is an excellent post on Victorian straw hats here


Posted in 19thc, brontes, costume research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Haworth 1940s weekend a cheats guide to the 1940s look

As Haworth 1940s weekend is this Saturday ,heres brief cheats guide to looking authentic without buying vintage 40s clothing,which while  being without doubt the most desirable option is often not practical especially if like myself  you are curvy and big footed as most 1940s ladies clothing is very petite and shoes are often  small sizes and quite narrow fitting.Luckily there was a trend for 1940s clothing and shoes in the 1980s and many of these clothes look surprisingly like 40s originals .All the clothing below (except for the fur and hat )is vintage 1980s from charity shops ,though  given time is best to shop around vintage shops and on ebay or etsy it’s also possible to pick up bargains at local charity shops.
Good brands to look out for are Hobbs for jackets and skirts ,coast for jackets,skirts and stunning vintage look evening gowns. Older Laura Ashley dresses and jackets can be good,the blue jacket in the photos is a vintage Laura Ashely.Primark is often a good place to find vintage look faux furs and seamed stockings or tights


The ideal is to find a jacket and skirt that look close enough in colour to be a suit,while both the above and below ensembles are obviously not colour perfect matches this wont be too noticeable while the outfits being worn with accessories .
A straight or slightly Aline skirt is best as these are the easiest to find and match to jackets.skirts should not be split at the back unless the split is hidden in a kick pleat and not too short no more than an inch above knee height at most.Its also authentic to wear pleated skirts but these are often harder to match to jackets
Jackets need to be nicely tailored ,either with a little flounced peplum waist or cut in a fairly masculine way . For skirts and jackets wool or wool look synthetic fabrics work best.

1940s haworth 2


I also often buy more recent vintage clothing ,from the Hitchcock blond fashion trend around 2004 as even the 1980s clothing can be a little bit too small on the bust and hips for me and is much more difficult to maintain as it often creases whereas modern fabrics are much more crease resistant .If you can afford it splash out on new clothing then a trip to Boundary Mill ,to a Hobbs, Coast ,Laura Ashley or Debenhams will probably yield results.

brown suit apothacvires

haworth 1940s 1

To go under your “suit” you need a 40s look blouse ,something in muted colours is best ,either with a wide collar or a peter pan style collar as these two styles have been popular recently so are quite easy to find online or in charity shops.I prefer either plain silk blouses or polka dot cotton blouses with peter pan collars.Muted very small print florals can also work but these are harder to match to skirts and jackets so if your only using the outfit once its best to keep to easy to match colours.

to give the outfit an authentic look its necessary to add  accessories .

The main essentials are a 40s style hat and a fur which can be a mink ,squirrel or fox cape or stole .
cindy 40s weekend
The most instantly recognisable 1940s fur is the  fox with its head and legs etc still attached (The reason so many 1940s furs have their heads and legs is that furs made into coats ,stoles capes etc without their legs and head were subject to rationing  and you would need to have the required number of ration tokens to buy it.whereas anything with limbs or its head was classed as a pelt and excluded from rationing .Furs are not always expensive while am artic fox can cost well over one hundred pounds a small mink can  usually be bought for single figures and if you willing to buy something slightly less than perfect its also possible to pick up stoles and foxes.

If you dont like to wear fur then its still possible to look the part but it requires much more work as other details will need to be much more precise.
last 40s talk

try to focus on a stunning hat and eye-catching bags or jewellery. Also to required if you will be outside are gloves  and a handbag .
To complete the look a pearl necklace and earings,perhaps a brooch. While there was a great variety of 1940s costume jewellery pearls are the best and easiest to find choice. Many supermarkets and stores will have simple pearl necklaces and though one were the pearls are graduated in size is more historically accurate any short necklace made of small pearls will look great. If you want something a bit different try an AB crystal necklace,these will need to be bought vintage but are often easier to find cheaply than genuine 1940s pearl necklaces which can be expensive as charity shops have begun to realise re enactors brose them and increased the price of things they consider “1940s y (sometimes to prices substantiality more expensive than an actual vintage shop) wereas AB necklaces are not popular and tend to still be in the cheap sections and can be picked up for a couple of pounds or less.AB or Aurora Borealis chrystals are the sparkling clear crystals that reflect different coloured light ,they are usualy cut with a lot of facets .
ab necklace
A gas mask is essential for complete accuracy as they had to be carried at all times when out ,though my friend gets around this by carrying an 1945 newspaper so she says its the end of the war.It is also possible to buy empty gas mask boxes to carry and as no one ever sees inside the box this is a cheap and easy solution, the empty box is also much lighter than a box and mask.

haworth 1940s 3A  bag of some kind is another essential ,unlike today no woman would go out without a handbag ,,at a pinch a  nw or preferably vintage shopping basket will do ,maybe you have one  left over from school cookery classes ?,even a modern new one is a great alternative to a genuine 1940s handbag which are usually very expensive

40s-shot gloves

.If you prefer a bag or are going to an event such as a dance were a basket obviously isn’t an option finding bags that look like 1940s bags can be hard as far as handbags go but some 1980s clutch bags are quite convincing and there has recently been a trend towards retro style clutch bags so a visit to Primark or a similar store might bear fruit ,try to keep to muted colours as though some 1940s bags were quite bright most were fairly conservative colours and certainly darker colours give a more “vintage” impression. I would remove any clip on straps as they wouldn’t usually have been used.(often 1940s clutch bags have a loop at the back to loop through your hand ).If you do buy vintage make sure its a 1940s style not the similar 1950s style.Avoid patent leather as these are most likely to be later bags .Its also best to try to find single strap bags as while 1940s style did sometimes have two handles or even shoulder straps the iconic 1940s bag is the single handled clasp top bag.

re tea dances or evening events

If you can ,try to find short dress not a long  one as either a faux 40s or genuine 1940s dress such as the satin one below .A wrap dress style in silk or wool or a button front style in silk cotton or wool are the style that are easiest to wear ,bias cut dresses look beautiful but are hard to wear if your not tall and skinny and also hard to source underwear for as modern cut knickers may leave lines ,but so will the catches from suspenders .
cream fox cerise dress
If you buy a short dress can easily be teamed with a jacket if you need to go  to other outside events whereas a long evening gown is only useful for indoor night events.

me and tilly 40s

As can be seen in the full length shots  of my outfits I usually wear high heeled shoes ,1940s shoes were often quite high ,I tend to wear either brogues or peep toe shoes as these are the two most well-known 40s styles.Suede looks authentic for peep toe shoes while brogues are best in plain black or brown.
Due to war time shortages shoes were not infrequently made with fabric and wood or cork was also sometimes used often for wedge heels but these styles though authentic tend to look more modern Again Primark can be fruitful for peep toe shoes.Tesco also occasionally have quite authentic looking 40s styles .Ladies did wear flat shoes but its harder to find authentic looking replica flat shoes and 1940s ones are very hard to find in sizes above uk 4 or 5

1940s womenA mistake sometimes made is to wear pointed toe high heels  or narrow heels which were not in fashion until the 1950s,,I forgot to change my shoes before this photo below was taken and it does spoil the effect.

haworth 1940s 4

Seamed stockings or tights add a nice authentic detail but should be flesh coloured not grey or black,It is possible to draw lines on the backs of each others legs but much harder than you might imagine to get the lines straight and in the uk bare legs can be chilly .

All the hats I have worn above are replica hats made specially for me however you can easily cheat and buy a 1980s wide-brimmed hat and modify it ,I had hoped to go a brief tutorial on how to do this but unfortunately I have not yet done so .Some 1980s wide-brimmed hats can be used as they are. Others if you remove the maribou or ostrich feathers and replace them with pheasant feathers look pretty good.If you do want to try restyling ,take a modern felt hat or even one of the posh school hats ,then cut two thirds of brim from the crown.Twist this free part of brim around to create an interesting shape,tack it in place and perhaps add a feather,any offcuts of the hat fabric can be cut into leaf shapes to decorate the hat .A google search for 1940s hats will give some ideas for styles.
school hat restyled

The hat above is made from an old school hat the brim was cut almost completely off leaving a narrow strip of fabric it was then twist slightly and stitched at an angle to the crown, I also cut the crown slightly to curve to the head, smaller hats will need a hat pin to keep them in place and indeed most hats feel easier to wear if you put a hat pin in them .To use a hat pin push it into the hat so its not sticking out then put the hat on and push the hat pin through your hair style and out of the hat the other side,this is safer than trying to just push the hat pin straight in while your wearing the hat .If yopu cant buy a hat you can wear a headscarf twisted or folded into a narrow strip and tied at the top of your head but this is not particularly authentic unless your in an informal environment or dressing as a worker
For gloves
any neatly cut plain leather or faux leather pair work well and you may already have some or be able to pick them up easily and cheaply from stores.If you prefer vintage a pair of little crochet gloves such as those seen in the photo of me with the shopping basket are the prettiest and cheapest option ,nylon gloves are often later 1950s or 60s and are also really hot to wear. Vintage gloves can be tiny or narrow fitting ,I have fairly small hands and need a sz 7 which I would imagine is the smallest size likely to fit modern ladies hands though perhaps for crochet gloves you may just get away with a sz 6.5 .

Lastly make up

The make up for the 1940s is fairly pale compared to modern tanned look foundations though not as pale as in earlier decades.The key thing is pale foundation ,flesh coloured or very pale eyeshadow and a red lipstick ,pillar box red or something similar as though not all lipstick was red it was very popular  is the look most associated with the 1940s .
For hair if you have short hair or don’t want to put your hair up ,buy a wide brimmed hat and you don’t need to worry about styling it ,if your hair is long enough then you can wear it looped up at the front in two v shapes but to do this you need something under your hair to get the height ,little hair cushions on combs can be bought but if you don’t have any roll up a couple of pieces of faux fur or velvet and roll your hair over these. You will need lots and ,lots of very stiff hairspray ,maximum hold ,spray it as you go along with your make up ,spray it again when your finished and again before you leave and if you have space take the hairspray with you as Haworth’s often breezy ,my hair will usually still stay up even without the hairpins.
I hope these are helpful hints
Have a lovely time at your event .

related posts
hair styles on youtube

footnote .
some ladies needed to kit out their menfolk so heres a little added bit.
I am not overly experienced at searching out mens clothing how ever I do have to kit out my husband and have friends who had helpful hints
John wears a wide lapel jacket which I think is actual vintage 40s but a vintage 80s jacket would work too and plain trousers (without turn ups as turn ups were not allowed under the clothing restrictions) He makes it look more 40s like with a civil defence arm band.Under the jacket he wears a modern shirt and either a bow tie or narrow tie and fedora hat.If you can pick up a waistcoat that would make a nice addition . He also has a back up James Herriot style outfit ,tweed jacket ,corduroy trousers brogues.A friend has a fairly easy outfit ,he wears a long old fashioned mens overall ,like the shopkeeper from open all hours ,he wears a normal shirt ,bow tie and flat cap .
for easy to find mens hats you can get flat caps ,tweed caps or Indianana Jones style hats ,Bowlers hats are also fairly easy to find but expensive.
Flat caps and tweed caps are usually available in charity shops ,The Souke Haworth also has them usually as well as a lot of great mens jackets and hats ,John also got his civil defence armband from there and they are fairly cheap .
I don’t advise uniforms for men who are not regular re enactors as they are hard to get entirely right and often expensive .You might be able to create a faux navel outfit with a roll neck jumper and captains cap from a fancy dress shop ,,think captain birds eye ,,or you could just wear a Breton style cap and say your one of the seamen who manned the small crafts for Dunkirk.
It should be noted that wearing a none allied forces uniform may mean that your movements are limited,Pickering doesn’t allowed Gemrans on trains and you have to stay in Le vishem which is levishem but for the war weekend acts as enemy occupied France .
German uniforms are not accurate for homefront 1940s weekends and are often unwelcome .In many places “enemy forces ” are not allowed on trains or other transport and genuine vintage German uniforms can have extremely unpleasant provenances .Herr flick might seem a fun choice and fairly easy if you already have a long leather coat but SS officers were never the nice guys and were never seen on mainland Britain in uniform.
see below

Posted in Hathaways of Haworth, Haworth and Oxenhope, Uncategorized, work | Tagged , | 10 Comments

1480 to 1600 ,When women ruled the world, part one

margret of Austria

While  it is common to bemoan the fate of women in the late medieval /early renaissance period I would suggest that it was in fact a time when women shaped Europe’s history and made changes that are still felt in our modern world.In this first of a series of posts I will give a very  brief introduction to the Queens ,duchesses ,ladies and princesses who helped shape our modern world.Many were not particularly likable but all played a role in shaping Europe.

The  period between 1480 and 1600 was a time when either officially or unofficially women ruled much of Europe for most of the time ,either in their own names or by controlling husbands  or sons who ruled .It is true that many of these women were in some respects  powerless victims,Margret Beaufort was married as a child and had her first and last child Henry Tudor  at the age of  13 ,Katherine of Aragon was  discarded by her husband and died in poverty ,Anne Boleyn was executed once Henry VIII tired of her ,Mary Tudor was wife to a younger husband who though she was devoted to him  had little love for her ,Mary Stuart through unwise marriages ended her days as a prisoner of Elizabeth I (who perhaps learning from the mistakes of both Marys remained unmarried).Yet despite the overwhelming odds stacked against women in  the 15th and 16th centuries these women overcame the odds and made a huge impact on their world and ours for either good or ill

In upcoming posts I will cover ,,


Isabella of Castile

Isabella drove the “Moors” from Spain ,she spent much of her adult life on military campaigns . By her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon she helped  to create  modern Spain. Despite being married  her husband Ferdinand did not control her lands she remained ruler  of them herself.If Isabella and Ferdinand had not removed the moors from spain its possible Spain would have remained Muslim up until the present day .Had Isabella not acted as sponsor to Christopher Columbus Spain would not have had any input to the  USA nor would the conquistadors have troubled the latin American countries for better or worse the Aztecs reign would have continued .She also expelled the Jews from Spain and sadly increased persecution of non Christians but she thus facilitated  the advance of science in other countries as Jewish doctors and scholars feld .She was succeeded by her daughter Juana ,,though only briefly as Juana became increasingly mentally unbalanced  .

Margret Beaufort


Mother of Henry Tudor later to be Henry VII .She began her life tragically ,married  very young (she was probably  between 11 and 12 ).Her husband who was twice her age .She gave birth at 13 to her only child Henry by which time she was already a widow .Yet Margret overcame all the odds to become the mother of the first Tudor King.Without Margret it is extremely unlikely Henry Tudor would have become Henry VII  as it was primarily by her plotting and support Henry managed to invade England and win at  Bosworth .Without Margaret there would be no Tudor dynasty.

Katherine of Aragon

white band-Catherine_aragon

While often seen as Henry VIII boring first wife ,it was Katherine who shaped much of Henry’s early policy and it was under Katherine’s command that England won the battle of  Flodden against the  Scots ,the battle saw the death of not just the king but also much of the nobility of Scotland.By refusing to comply to Henrys demand for an end to their marriage she created a situation were the reformists gained power and England became  more isolated from Europe.

Anne Boleyn


The determination of Henry VIII to cast off  Katherine for Anne and the way both women dealt with the situation shaped Tudor society and culture and a widespread and lasting effect on our lives It is unlikely that the protestant reformers would have had the success in England which they did without Anns protection .Anne was a determined supporter of the reformers and her copy of Tyndale’s New testament still survives.

Queen Mary 1

mary tudor

Always in the shadow of her half-sister Elizabeth Mary Tudor is yet an interesting figure in her own right ,sadly responsible for the creating of an anti catholic bias in the English mind which lasted for many centuries  ,she was also the first woman ever to rule England in her own right and by popular consent.

Elizabeth 1


The influence of Elizabeth’s reign impacted on almost every aspect of modern life in the UK ,our culture ,our trade ,our prejudices and our belief in what it is to be English .

Catherine de Medici

Catharina Medici

Not an independent  monarch in her own right,she ruled through her sons  and played a key role in the politics  of Europe,The years during which her sons reigned is often called the age of Catherine de Medici .She made real changed in Frances policy while unfortunate events such as the St Bartholomew’s day massacre created such a powerful full memory that it had lasting repercussions for Roman Catholics .The Massacre is now largely forgotten but at the time it stunned Europe ,Its effect can probably best be summed up as correlating to the effect of 9/11.

Mary Stuart the Queen of Scots

black dress mary

While Mary was rather a tragic and ineffective ruler ,she ruled as queen in Scotland briefly and provided a son James who was to unite mainland Britain under one monarch.The rule of Mary and Elizabeth made  mainland Britain for a while at least a place entirely under the governance of queens.

whether directly as queens Regnant or regents  or indirectly as queens consort for much of the 16 th Century much of Europe’s history  was being shaped by women.

Margaret of Austria

margret of Austria

Governor of the Netherlands

Navarrese  Queens

Navarre is interesting as it had several queens throughout its history and five between the mid 15th and late 16thc century .Navarre had two  queens during the 16th c who played roles in European politics Catherine and Joan III it was also home to the  the influential  queen consort  Marguerite.

While these are likely to be the only  queens covered in depth there are many other interesting ladies worthy of note

In Russia

Between 1533  and 1538 Elena Glinskaya  ruled as regent .

Eleanore of Toledo

 eleanorElizabeth Woodville

eliz woodvil

Elizabeth  of York


Elizabeth Bathory


Posted in 15thc, 16thc/17thc, history | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Princes in the Tower, the murder mystery that never was

As  Richard III is currently in the news  I thought it a good time to finish my post on the Princes.The alleged “murder of the princes in the tower” is a frequent reason for suggesting that Richard III was both a bad person and a usurper .Richard cannot escape the slur of child murder and comments about placing his actions in a historical context don’t really wash.Yet there is absolutely nothing about Richards character and behavior prior to becoming King which suggests he is capable of murdering not just  children but his brothers  children .It is certain Richard took power from these children  with planned and somewhat ruthless efficiency and placed them under increasingly close keeping  in the Tower of London.They then disappear from  the tower and from history presumably murdered.


I know it is popular to “defend “Richard by suggesting other potential suspects but I don’t think it is actually necessary to assume foul play .The princes could  quite easily have died of natural causes, or perhaps  the  older prince  or more precisely the young king  Edward V died and the younger prince was sent away,(I can’t personally  imagine it likely that one prince was sent into exile overseas but there is considerable academic support to favour it and  unless this occurred or was at least suspected  I cannot otherwise explain the  behavior of  key players later in case of Perkin Warbeck).

True Richard placed first Edward V and then is Brother Richard in the Tower of London but  the moving of the Princes to the Tower was not as ominous as it seems to us now, the Tower was the key royal lodging in London and  had a large and comfortable set of Royal apartments and monarchs stayed there prior to their coronation.It is only later under the Tudors and Stuarts it acquires a reputation that is entirely unpleasant  .Even had the boys not been kept in Royal apartments its not necessarily the case that because they were placed in the towers other rooms their death needed to follow.The Tower had a number of long-term prisoners and several kings and queens spent years imprisoned in the Tower before being released or moved elsewhere.Over the centuries Kings of France ,England and Scotland spent years in imprisonment .Richard may have planned a similar fate for his nephews,he certainly had nothing to gain from having them murdered as they had been declared illegitimate ,their power base curtailed and  he had been crowned king.

Keeping the children in his custody made much more sense than murdering them as while they were in his close keeping they were in effect hostages for the good behavior of their mother and her supporters and many of those supporters were the unpopular Woodville’s or Woodville allies.Though plots could be instigated to free them, as long as they were kept safe and perhaps in secret locations it was far safer to leave them alive. The next claimants  to Richards throne were all adults who were out of Richards control and capable of acting for themselves .

It is not therefore fanciful or illogical  to assume Richard did not murder the Princes and there is no evidence against him .Though there were random rumors in 1483 and 1484 and the odd vague remark by later chroniclers  there is no evidence that he murdered the children except that they disappeared and their disappearance may equally have been because as other rumors claimed that they had been sent overseas.Likewise despite it being in his obvious best interests Henry VII could not find reputable accounts  of any murder or produce the princes bodies and was never able to clearly accuse Richard of their murder.Further more  HenryVIIs behavior in the Perkin Warbeck case tends to suggest he did not know for an absolute fact that the princes had been murdered .

There is also the behavior of  their mother and their sisters Despite a few rumours that the princes had been murdered in late 1483 In March 1884 their mother Elizabeth Woodville and their sisters came out of sanctuary in Westminster Abbey and Richard gave sworn assurances of their safety and good treatment and he made good his promises.To allow the sisters of the Princes liberty was fairly safe while their brothers were still alive if however Richard had killed them ,it meant he was allowing freedom to potential heirs of Edward IV and  also placing in positions of power women whose brothers he had murdered .This doesn’t seem the wisest of moves.If however we assume the princes were moved and hidden away there is no reason not to treat their sisters well . If as I suggest may be the case that the princes  or at least the  elder  King Edward died of natural causes and this was known to be a fact by their mother then there would be no danger from allowing the women liberty as long as they would be persuaded to see their best interests lay with Richard and it made political sense to  marry them into the families of his supporters or perhaps  as his wife was sickening he planned  to marry  one of them himself to strengthen his claim to the throne,,just as Henry VII does later when he marries Elizabeth of York.eli yorkThe case for natural death grows if  evidence from the bones long believed to be the Princes in the tower is considered.(though I am not utterly convinced these are in fact the princes bones  ,the arguments for illness could equaly apply )The bones of the largest /eldest child showed evidence of extensive  osteomyelitis, a chronic and in medieval times, incurable bone  disease ,it causes not just severe pain and sores but also bone necrosis and even today dead bone often needs to be removed and treatment with antibiotics is essential .None of these options were available at the time .If the skeleton is that of  Edward V he was doomed even without being murdered The pain from this infection  would be more than enough to account for Edward Vs apparent depression and  its severity accounts for his reported belief  that he would soon die .If this was the prince the disease was of long standing so  it is also clear he had been  alive for longer than reports of his death in 1483 suggested.

The progress of this or any similare disease would also explain why the princes began to be seen less frequently and may also  explain the death or disappearance  of the second prince .Perhaps when it became clear how ill Edward was Richard was moved to keep him healthy or more likely he contracted a related disease and died .Osteomyelitis can be a complication of other diseases  caused by a number of bacteria all of which would easily be passed from child to child by direct contact ,by sharing the same environment,,same bed ,same increasingly confined space.Two of the bacteria Staphylococcus and salmonella are environmental and the princes probably shared the same spaces  infected by the bacteria and may  have been independently infected .Its also possible it was a complication of Tuberculosis ,which may have been the actual cause of death and would have very easily been transmitted from prince to prince ..Though the second skeleton does not appear to have any disease  evident it was incomplete and already damaged when examined and in addition death from for example Typhus  would leave no marks nor would flu type diseases  ,it was only months after Bosworth that the “sweating Sickness” officially appears in England perhaps the princes were among the earliest victims.
Death by natural causes would explain the burial of the bodies either those found under the stair or those found elsewhere earlier,,if your going to murder two children then why not just throw them in the river but if they die of natural causes after being cared for then it’s entirely logical they may have been secretly and hurriedly  buried in a makeshift coffin to prevent the spread of disease from their corpses but perhaps also with the hope they could be reburied with  more dignity later.

If they had died in 1483 it  doesn’t of course explain why Richard didn’t make the deaths public and produce bodies,Edwards disease would be so visible that it would be impossible to attribute his death to murder .I would suggest that it’s possible that at the time the first rumors  of their murder were circulating  the princes were extremely ill and couldn’t be produced but Richard was biding his time and intended to produce them once they recovered or produce their corpses once they succumbed and died.Perhaps Elizabeth emerged from the closely watched sanctuary of the Abby in 1484 so she could visit one or both sons before their deaths it would explain what otherwise seems to be a strange about turn.

There were regular outbreaks of disease in London and especially during the hotter months ,infant mortality in medieval England was high and  the Woodville children of Edward IV seem to have been particularly susceptible to ravages of  infant mortality .In addition precautions against spreading disease where for the  most part ineffective .In the light of the lack of evidence it would seem far more likely that the Princes died while kept in less than ideal conditions rather than that they were murdered by persons unknown in a manner unknown and disposed of in a place unknown.

The possibility that the younger child survived in exile will be dealt with at some point in the future as the case of Perkin Warbeck is of enough interest to merit its own post


Richards religious beliefs

As it’s a subjective opinion I have not included the following in the main article however I think it a valid and very important  argument and it is therefore included below.

As a christian I do not feel that Richard who shows obvious signs of  being  genuinely devout would have committed murder .While Richard was obviously used to killing ,he had fought in many battles ,this does not make him capable of child murder .Premeditated  Murder is a mortal sin.Had Richard committed such a sin he would have shown signs of a troubled conscience and an excessive  worry about the state of his soul after death ,this isn’t the case .True he arranged  the execution of enemies but those were adults who were  his enemies not defenseless children ,Richard seems to have had an empathy for the under dog and a passion for justice for the voiceless its I think impossible that such a man could kill children in his care.

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What the Bible says about Women part two. Ezer Kenegdo .


As mentioned in my first post on what the Bibles says about Women ,this is a response to the number of sites promoting the submissive wife and  Titus 2 woman.Titus is a New testament letter and gives instructions on  conduct appropriate to various groups.The relevant section states

Titus 2

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

I will choose here to be the older woman of Titus two and offer good counsel to younger women .There is an increasing number of sites promoting  the  erroneous doctrine of  Women as inferiors to men or wives as servants to husbands .Young Christian women are encouraged to be  “stay at home” women,both wives and mums and even daughters .While it is  certainly ideal for young Children to have a “stay at home” parent ,I find it worrying that women are encouraged to be “stay at home ” daughters to the exclusion of acquiring an education and stay at home wives to the exclusion of any  education or ambitions other than those focused on being the helpmate of a man .

titus woman

I am in no way denigrating stay at home mums or wives at various times I have been both ,neither is my argument based on undermining the Bible or the Christian faith ,I hold a high conservative view of scripture and I am a Christian.(I have provided a fuller  outline of my spiritual, personal and educational background in the previous post here)


I will  now explore and consider the premises for believing the bible  teaches the inferiority of women and  condones or even encourages “stay at home women”I have started  this series of posts by considering the account of  creation and the fall ,as it is the foundation on which every other belief rests. I have also argued more or less entirely from within the text as it is the Bible which is used to justify these heresies.

Genesis not only tells us about the past acts of our  creator God but  explains our present  world and its tells us of  events that  are still being enacted ,it lays down fundamental  concepts about ourselves and our world  and about what is means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.Its also the foundation of the only God-given covenant between humans Marriage.Misreading and mistranslation have created an entirely false idea of the roles of women.


Below are listed some Commonly held views which are assumed to have irrefutable foundations in the Word of God ,most are out-and-out untrue some are only half-true

1/ The bible says women  are inferior to men ,they mens helpers and God ordained different roles in life for men and woman

2/that Man as “the priest of the house” is effectively responsible for being almost an intermediary between his wife and God .

3/ The bible says women are inherently more likely to sin than men and were responsible for the “fall”

4/The bible says wives must  be the submissive servants of their husbands

To begin with premise one

The bible says  women are inherently inferior to men ,the weaker vessel.

It is fairly obvious without any reference to scripture that women are in general physically frailer than men ,we lack the same muscle strength ,we have finer more delicate bones and finer skin  ,we are for the most part are less resilient to harsh environments or excessive hard labour .Being physically weaker however does not mean we are weak in every respect.Many male biblical characters are not physically remarkable and indeed several  handsome or  physically  strong male figures are poor spiritual  role models eg ,Absalom,Samson,

The bible  therefore clearly does not teach that the  body is  in any way a mirror to the mind or soul nor is it of any eternal  importance .Womens bodies are weaker but their  intellect and women’s immortal souls are equal to mens because god created us that way and Genesis tells us so.


The Bible tells is  man was most certainly created first and woman second.To use this to support an argument that Man is therefore a better, higher or prefered being to woman  is erroneous . Before man was created God created the plants and animals,,does that therefore mean they are superior to Mankind ? Creation of living things in the Genesis account is shown as a progression from the simple plants to more complex animals then to man .Man is not greater than woman because he was created first ,if you carry any form of  precedence by creation time argument forward it would maintain Woman not man was the peak of Gods creation .Which is obviously not an acceptable premise .What is clear  is Woman is not an afterthought to stop Adam being lonely ,Woman  completes Gods  creation ,without woman the work of creation is incomplete and Adams life would be forever lonely.


Secondly the frequent argument of mans superiority because he is in effect Gods first-born .This is also flawed as throughout the bible the first-born are often superseded by later children,,Jacob was born second,,David was the youngest son.The term  first-born  cannot be used of  the Adam /God  relationship God did not give birth to Adam he created him.

Point one continued

Woman is created  according to our English bibles to be mans ” help mate ” in his tasks ,however  the word has lost some of its meaning over time ,,the original was help meet,, ie helper fit for man ,,and even in its original form the phrase  loses a great deal in translation.


.The english versions leads us  to assume that woman being a helper for man  is therefore inferior.This is not is a concept borne out by later biblical events and teaching or by actual reading of the Hebrew phrase, Ezer  cenegdo/kenegdo

The english translation  of the phrase as Helper suggests a position of inferiority,taking commands and helping out ,however the actual Hebrew has a wider fuller  meaning .

Ezer  the first part of the phrase  is exclusively  used elsewhere in the Bible to refer to God or to a king or ruler or someone powerful providing indispensable help ,its always used to describe someone with power ,it ,means not a servant helper but someone who comes to your aid with their ,power  or strength and or as a military allies.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

The base root of Ezer is  Azar  which means to succor ,to surround,to encourage .

Hence  woman is mans  helper in power and strength as well as emotionally and spiritually.If we seek her model in art or literature she isn’t the long-suffering,downtrodden and  submissive yet ever faithful Griselda ,


she is more like the gentle but brave and powerful Arwyn


There are plenty of Hebrew words which do mean servant or someone able but under authority but these are not used.

The second part of the phrase Cenegdo or  kenegdo means facing ,like or corresponding to  or opposite to and implies being face to face ,equal  but different.It can also mean an opposer but thats not its usual context.That this is how woman is seen is again obvious by close reading of the text .

Adam acknowledges Eves likeness to himself my calling Eve ,wo-man ,not because she is from him and therefore inferior to him but because unlike the animals etc she is like him ,flesh of his flesh bone of his bone ,,another being like himself.

Significantly and symbolically Eve is created from Adams side and from close to his heart.The bible re enforces this by adding that Man will leave his father and mother to be with his wife.The revolutionary nature of that verse is perhaps lost on the modern mind  ,at the time of Gensis conception is elsewhere in the world it was  always the case that women are taken from their homes  to the mans household and become part of his family’s household as almost a posession.

Kenegdos other meaning as opposite  also suggests that  Eve is different to Adam which is clearly the case the Bible ,experience and science all show us that men and women are not just the same creatures in different bodies but have clear differences in outlook and in their strengths and weaknesses.

Hence  God says I will create for Adam a partner to be his aid ,Woman is not created as a meek helpmate but a powerful ,strong partner for Adam to add her strength to his and with him to rule the earth.

Ferdinand-and-Isabelle-1469-51246288a(Ferdinand and Isabella ,the Catholic monarchs of spain

The Biblical texts examined more closely

Gen 2 v8

 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 Now a river [g]flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four [h]rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it [i]flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it [j]flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is [k]Tigris; it [l]flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the [m]Euphrates.

15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not [n]eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [o]suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the [p]sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the [q]sky, and to every beast of the field, but for [r]Adam there was not found a helper [s]suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God [t]fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
[u]She shall be called [v]Woman,
Because [w]she was taken out of [x]Man.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife

This is the most often quoted account of the creation of mankind and is of course the reason we know man was created first .However what is rarely asked is why did God create man first  and allow man to look for companions elsewhere before he created woman?A close reading of the text shows this is not as it is usually suggested merely because man is thus shown to Gods first choice and worker alongside God in naming the animals .Nor is it  that Man is  Gods true image or even because it shows man can exist without woman while women are entirely dependent on men for their existence ,rather the opposite.Man cannot live without Woman ,she is essential to him ,this creation account is surely given to us by God so that men will understand they need women,that women are essential to them and bring to creation something unique and special .Its also clear that Man is given a close relationship with his wife so much so they are one


This first longer version of  mankind’s creation is also usually stressed to the exclusion of the much shorter earlier version

Gen 1 .27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” .

Man /the husband is the spiritual intermediary between Woman and God .his wife and God

In this shorter  creation account  we see the  introductory comments on the hebrew phrase translated helpmate as an equal partner are accurate .Man is not the only true image of God and woman an echo made only to be mans servant ,in this earlier verse we see Women and Man on equal  spiritual footing both rulers of the earth. God blessed THEM  ie both Adam and Eve  and told Them ie ,Adam and Eve, man and woman that they should subdue and role over creation  .Later verses support this  readings I will use two NT texts one from Peter and one from   Pauls teachings on men and women as  Peter and Paul are the only real source for christian views of women as mens servants

First Peter

Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way live with your wives with understanding, showing respect as to a weaker vessel, the female, as also to a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so your prayers may not be hindered.

Secondly Paul

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NIV, Galatians 3:26-29)

(I will answer Peter and Pauls other teaching on Women in later posts)

Women responsible for the Fall

If it is accepted Women and Men were initially spiritual equals ,its claimed Women or at least Eve sinned first  causing the Fall and the advent of sin and death.

It is very certain that the first woman,Eve was the first human to disobey God ,the Bible tells us so and we see many echos of the Fall narrative in other cultures Myths such as that of Pandora  and her box or Jar  ( Pandora is the created first woman in Greek Mythology)

It is true that had Adam not also disobeyed Evas plight and that of Women would be like Pandora the source of all the worlds woes ,However Adam did sin.


Genesis three the Fall

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Story ends with Adam and Eves expulsion from Eden.

The Expulsion from Eden

It is sometimes claimed Adam was always the intermediary between Eve and God ,,hence Man should remain so in the modern world (,this is however not borne out by a close reading of the Bible, true God and Adam are close and it is Adam not Eve who God calls for in the garden but nowhere does it say that God only spoke to Eve via Adam,God does in fact  speak to her in a second creation account and in this account later during the curses  ,you have to rely on the argument from silence  to imply G0d didn’t speak to Eve)

But if we assume for the time being that Adam was Gods intermediary  with Eve ,then if was the case  Eves sin was to disobey Adam her husband thus causing all the woes of the world.However what is ignored in this scenario is that if this is indeed the case Eves sin is surely more understandable than Adams.Eve disobeyed her fellow-creature who she spent her time helping because a spiritual being, the serpent told her something different.Adam on the other hand disobeyed God ,a God who he had been close to and who he knew from personal experience was the creator of  all the living things and who had given him everything he had .At this point its is proper to highlight that any disobedience is Sin and all sin is equal Eves is not a lesser sinner for just disobeying Adam , but likewise Eve is no greater sinner for sinning first ,her sin is no greater than Adams.Likewise the actual act of committing the first sin is committed by both Eve and Adam individually and independently and both must equally take the responsibility for their sin and its consequences.

If we now read the account more closely we see that though the text is unclear  its likely only Eve held a conversation with the serpent .It is however utterly illogical to argue that this is a prelude to sin. Eve was not told not to talk to the serpent just not to eat from the tree .Its also suggested Eve should not have  had the conversation where she explains the prohibition to the serpent as that implies Eves willingness to be tempted  but ignores the obvious alternative that Eve was explaining to the serpent that it was wrong in what it believed and was trying to helpfully correct it ,she has after all been given joint  stewardship of the animals by God .While it is occasionally suggested both Adam and Eve were involved in the serpents conversation this seems unlikely ,The serpent is cursed for deceiving Eve not both Adam and Eve so it’s fairly likely the serpent /Eve conversation isn’t witnessed by Adam .It can be argued that Eve is seen as an easy target by the serpent  or that she intends to sin because she goes close to the tree but that isn’t explicitly stated and can’t be supported by the Genesis narrative .God doesn’t say ,don’t go near the tree ,don’t talk to the serpent so there can be no implied disobedience from Eves actions.

What is important is that Eve does not sin then wander to another part of Eden to tempt Adam , Adam is present at the point at which Eve eats ,he sees her eat then eats himself ,she doesn’t tempt Adam she is just the one who passes the fruit to Adam and who eats .Adam doesn’t say Eve told me to eat it ,Eve  persuaded me or Eve deceived me just that she gave it to him  the fruit .God doesn’t curse Eve for deceiving Adam in the way he curses the serpent for deceiving Eve ,nor does he curse  Eve as a temptress ,he curses her for her disobedience in eating the fruit

The consequences of  Adams sin is also much more wide-ranging than Eves ,Eves sin merely effects women

Gen 3 cont

I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;

rIn pain you shall bring forth children;

sYour desire shall be 5for your husband,

And he shall trule over you.”

whereas Adams affects all creation and the lot of humankind.

Gen 3

Then to Adam He said, u“Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree vof which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

w“Cursed is the ground for your sake;

xIn toil you shall eat of it

All the days of your life.

18 Both thorns and thistles it shall 6bring forth for you,

And yyou shall eat the herb of the field.

19 zIn the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

Till you return to the ground,

For out of it you were taken;

aFor dust you are,

And bto dust you shall return.”


Lastly here is the earliest source of the belief that  God ordained women should be submissive in all respects to their husbands ,its is the phrase that Eves husband will “Rule over her, yet the context here is always forgotten ,,it’s a curse .God is not giving out instructions for a godly marriage but rather explaining the sad results of sin.Likewise it would be impossible for the ruling over of Eve to have been an original part of the Adam /Eve ,husband wife ideal relationship  then be included in a curse for sin .The unregenerate Husband wife may still be included in this curse but there is certainly no scope for a Christian husband and wife to use this text for marriage guidance.

It should  also be noticed that the trend to “pass the buck to women for mans sin first appears here but Adams defence by blaming Eve is not condoned by God  and he shows clearly that every being is accountable for their sins and can’t use excuses to pass the blame to anyone or anything else.Blaming Eve for initiating the Fall and using it to denigrate women is not acceptable to God.

Men and women are equal but different .


I have here listed  several texts using Ezer Kenegd

 Exodus 18:4, And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.  –

 Deuteronomy 33:26, There is none like unto God of Jeshurun, who rides upon the heaven in thy help, and his excellency on the sky. 

Deuteronomy 33:29, Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency!.. 

5) Psalm 20:1-2, The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion.

6) Psalm 33:20, Our soul waiteth for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

7) Psalm 70:5, But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.

8) Psalm 89:19, Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.

9) Psalm 115:9, O Israel, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.

10) Psalm 115:10, O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.

11) Psalm 115:11, Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.

12) Psalm 121:1, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

13) Psalm 121:2, My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

14) Psalm 124:8, Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

15) Psalm 146:5, Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help

 If we apply Ezer to imply a position of submission and servant like service these texts become nonsense.

Exodus 18:4, And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine servant  and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.  –

Deuteronomy 33:26, There is none like unto God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy service  and his excellency on the sky.

Psalm 121:2, My service  cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Lord, the voice of Judah be thou a servant to him from his enemies.

Psalm 115:11, Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their servant .

Psalm 146:5, Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his servant.

I thought it would be enlightening to substitute  the word woman for  helper in one of the  texts.

Psalm 146 ,v 5 Happy is the man who has woman for his helper

,,, Woman is considered in much this way in  Proverbs

Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

Proverbs 19:14 House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.

(The proverb backs up and builds on the narrative of Genesis were Adam is given Eve.)

Proverbs 31:11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil

christians are therefore equals but different ,they compliment each other and by being partners help make up for each others weaknesses.


me john work

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Blake Morrison ,Three sisters a review

I was asked to review Blake Morrisons” we are three sisters”  .I went to the play with mixed feelings, while normally eager to see new Bronte inspired work, I had avoided “We are three sisters” as I hate Chekhov, I find him needlessly depressing and I sympathise entirely with the view of one long dead reviewer of Chekhov’s three sisters who pointed out “that if someone had just bought three tickets to Moscow the play would have ended”,, and probably it would have been for the best.That said I should not have felt so gloomy, if anything could make me love Chekhov ,it would be “We are three sisters” though in truth I struggled to find anything much of Chekhov’s three sisters in Blake Morrison’s (vastly improved) three sisters. While I could not watch more than a few minutes of Chekhov’s  play  without wishing the sisters would just buck up their ideas and get on with life ,aided by solid performances from Barry Rutters Northern Broadside  theatre company  Blake Morrison’s ”we are three  sisters” could not be more  different ,lively intelligent and determined, they are victims of their circumstances, intelligent enough to realise this yet refusing to lie down and give up ,throwing off their victim status with a power and determination one could imagine the Bronte’s themselves possesing.Morrison  has created several of those  rarities, intelligent well written and witty characters who are also Northerners. Though Lydia did at times descend to an ecky thump, flat cap and whippet level of Northernhood   the other characters deftly avoided the trap and made me proud of this innovative and native company.Broadside is the child of and run by among others Barry Rutter, based in Halifax and composed of primarily northern cast and crew, it is fiercely loyal to its northern roots and determined to highlight the talent and creativity of  the area propelled  by the vision  and drive of  its founder  Barry Rutter.wearethreesisters_1998069b
I was delighted to discover on entering the theatre that the parsonage dining room had been recreated in its main elements. The table ,chairs etc where set on a red carpet, the chairs being identical to the parsonages far from common style of chair and on table  sat the sisters writing slopes even the sofa (though on set translated in a chaise long) was the correct colour and set in roughly the same spot. The dining room is so central to Bronte myth and to their actual lives that its only fitting most of the plays action takes place in this space and while I am aware Black Morrison did not want to photographically recreate the Brontes spaces yet even the tiny kitchen set, almost off stage and set lower reminded one instantly of the warm and welcoming parsonage kitchen.I was intrigued by the presence of a gravestone propped almost unnoticed on the “chimney breast which separated the Main dining space from the kitchen and I had assumed it was designed to indict Charlotte’s conviction that the parsonage was itself, built on graves, an idea seized on by some Bronte biographers to imply the Brontes felt surrounded by death, a feeling that grew in my mind when Emily recites in the first scene the stanzas as she paces the main set.
see around me tombstones grey,
I see around me Tombstones grey
stretching their shadows far away
beneath the turf my footsteps tread
Lie low and lone the silent dead
I was later told the gravestone was a mere accident  which seemed unlikely but if so it was lucky accident and if the gravestone  was  intentional it was a nice and thoughtful idea it was, like the equally thoughtfully added chip, chip, chip of the stone mason as he unseen, carves out new gravestones for those silent dead ,another  great idea. It was also a delight to see the sisters dressed accurately and with obvious thought and attention to detail, Ann in a grey 1840s gown ,charlotte  in a drab 1840s gown, both in multiple  petticoats which though invisible yet made the gowns move right despite being much more high maintenance than adding the usual inaccurate hoops  and even more impressive  Emily was dressed in a 1830s gown with straight skirts, that seemed inspired by the Gun Group, it was a nice touch that probably went unnoticed by most theatre goers and therefore all the more impressive.Moving to the performances of the actors themselvesI may perhaps start with my most negative comments and get them out of the way as I feel somehow a traitor to the cause to mention them. It was the performance of Barry Rutter as the school teacher, I entered the theatre eager to love Mr Rutter, I really did, the man is a talented Northerner proud of his roots and has helped create an excellent company in Northern  Broadside. Unfortunately he had not long been on stage before enthusiasm gave way to despair.Mr Rutters performance reminded me of fireworks, bright and dazzling, it exploded onto the stage with bangs and bright lights only to almost instantly fizzle out and plummet to earth, leaving only a lump of cardboard  that gets in everyone’s way .He was the weak link in an otherwise strong chain. He walks around in one scene in a cardboard mask and one couldn’t help but feel that his performance might have been improved had he left it on throughout the play, as compared to the restraint and sensitivity shown by the other actors, his forever mobile eyebrows and very mobile features created the impression of a great plastic chrysanthemum stuck inside a bouquet of snowdrops. I have heard and also read in other reviews that Mr Rutter has been excellent in past performances and perhaps this was just a bad day for him. I am only sure that Mr Rutter couldn’t enter a scene without leaving you wishing you where elsewhere and left you sympathizing with a talented cast trying to act round the manic elephant in the room.The cast was otherwise truly exceptional and on a Saturday afternoon with another long and emotionally demanding performance ahead of them, to what would no doubt be a bigger audience they gave their all to the performance. They made the two thirds full theatre resound with clear and passionately spoken yet restrained performances.The play opens with the sisters, Mr Bronte and Branwell singing one of Ann’s hymns to her melody that has been thoughtfully reset, I am no musician  so unfortunately cannot do justice to its sensitivity  to the characters later roles  but the actress playing Ann  later explained in our interview that it was a five-part harmony. To my uneducated ears the hymn was simply, perfectly sung. The male voices kept subtle enough  not to drown the ladies yet clear  and strong while  the actresses sounded very sweet .

From the very first  the script show that the playwright is very familiar with the Bronte’s letters and other primary sources, It harks back briefly to Chekhov ,it is Anns birthday (name day) and she mentions the contents of her diary paper, a nice deft way to set the scene. I suspect that Blake Morrison read widely and perhaps made notes of the biographical elements of several of Charlotte’s novels such as Shirley and has taken inspiration for some parts of Charlotte’s early dialogue about curates from it. Throughout the play he shows an intimate acquaintance with facts and wide-ranging exploration of primary and secondary sources as well as Bronte novels and poetry so that when he later bends the facts you are absolutely certain it is an artistic and creative decision not ignorance. The research lies gently within the script and often hidden but I believe it helps breath life into the characters. Perhaps  also ought to  mention  here another  major difference between the Blake Morrison and Chekhov plays, especially as it was yet another reason I had avoided the play ,while Chekhov’s sisters seem to me at least to constantly long for  civilisation and culture of Moscow ,thinking very little of their present backwater existence among what they perhaps consider red necks ,In the Blake Morrison play there is none of this denigration of the Brontes surroundings and  while this unavoidably means the play drifts  further from its Chekhovian roots, good for him !

To review each character in more detail I will start with the sisters and with Emily  who was perfectly played  by Sophia di Martino and  while I personally felt the character  as written was at times  too morose she was most people’s perception of Emily  and aside from the odd gloomy comments which are, as parts of the script outside her control the actress absolutely perfectly portrays Emily’s force of character (the actress called her” a force of nature “in our interview ) She recited Emily’s poetry when the script provided her with the opportunity not as mere lines but as something that spoke to her own soul.
There is interwoven into all  her actions and delivery the impression of Emily as something  at once both ordinary yet elemental, yet thrillingly this wasn’t the clichéd Emily but a living breathing funny and sometimes fragile Emily, rooted in her love of the moors yet not enslaved  by the script into a stereotypical hybrid of Kathy and Heathcliff ( the Kathy- like moor wandering cliché was something the actress later mentioned they had been very keen to avoid). I was delighted to see the domestic homemaker and witty Emily brought to life here .I often felt “yes! this is how Emily looked and  moved and spoke” It was almost as if I were  a fly on the wall at the parsonage back in the 1840s. It was a delight
Charlotte was equally well-played, I didn’t get chance to talk to the actress about her  intentions and inspirations as she wasn’t with us later so I will have to go with my own impressions, I felt she was possibly the most Chekhovian of the characters, also I got a very deep impression that this was Juliette Barker’s Charlotte ,rather than Mrs Gaskells  and Juliette Barker doesn’t seem to be much of a Charlotte fan .Its seemed the actress had done her research and she was extremely good in her scenes with Branwell and Tabby. She made  Charlotte a warmer, brighter being .Blake Morrison has obviously thought long and in-depth about Charlotte and it shows .He takes Barker’s solid scholarship but, Pygmalion like breathes life into her chilly marble .
Tabby was brilliant, a character pivotal to the Brontes yet usually ignored it was a real joy to see her brought to life. It may have been merely to provide a  nod to Chekhov and a victim to Lydia as it’s a small part with few lines and  she could have been an almost non entity ,the butt of Lydia’s insults and object of  the girls sympathy but it is a great tribute to the actress that she’s one of my favourite characters from the play ,Her Tabby is blunt, vivacious, funny, yet occasionally heartbreakingly frail. Blake Morrison yet again has breathed the spirit of the real person into the old familiar mould.
Branwell was perfectly portrayed physically .


When he walks on he reminds me of the Leyland bust and his own sketches. I am not sure what I thought of his emotional  portrayal ,I didn’t like this Branwell and not because of his actions. In another play, Bronte Boy, Branwell was just as badly behaved yet still lovable and worthy of sympathy. Blake Morrisons  Branwell seems unsympathetic and I am not sure if that’s due to the original Chekhov play or the choice of the playwright, The scenes where he bully’s and denigrates  his sisters vividly brought to life how life must have actually been in those dark days final days  but as this is unsoftened by earlier scenes of affection you are left with a distinctly unflattering portrait, I am no fan of Branwell yet he was a loving brother and a talented and witty man but I felt little of this in Blake Morrison’s Branwell .
I also found Lydia two-dimensional but that was how she was written and the actress playing her seemed to do her best with, in parts not very good material, though she has some excellent one liners, among my favourites was

“I thought Haworth would be more like Harrogate”

I would imagine she’s supposed to be a monster, but I remember one reviewer described her as one step away from Hyacinth Bucket and that was the idea that stuck in my mind.
To return to the sisters, Ann played by Rebecca Hutchinson  is perfect, she’s often left in the shadows in Bronte biographies and plays so  it was utterly delightful to see another  play that centres so much of the action on her and an actress that brings her so fully to life, the actress playing her was indignant  that a recent poll mentioned Charlotte and Emily but completely  missed Ann off  the famous Yorkshire authors list. That passion for her character and her right to a voice seemed to me to inform and impassion the performance. Ann was the gentle quiet Ann of myth but not the lifeless cardboard cut out of so many portrayals.
Of the male characters  The father  Patrick was also excellent, touching  and intelligent but  funny and  kind and though he obviously has his eccentricities and  has a somewhat fiery nature  he  is not dominated by either  but they merely add another endearing layer to the character.
The minor  characters are a curate “William ” who is so well written and played I believe he has every woman in the audience half in love with him before he finishes his first scene and kicking herself by the end of his second .William is, I assume based on Willy Weightman and has much of what seems to have been Weightmans charisma and sex appeal ,yet also his  compassionate sweet nature  and dedication to improving the lot of his parishioners, all be it intermixed in the Curate character with a superficiality on other  levels and what amounts to an addiction to insincere flirtation.
The doctor is also a revelation, initially a frequently superficial and occasionally brutish character he is also tender ,sad and intelligent, his final scene as he prepares to leave Haworth  reminded me somehow of the legend of a mute swan singing before its death, his lines where simple but moving and perfectly  delivered, the audience was hushed .
It’s strange that though the men seem to dominate the first acts yet they seem somehow disposable, the sisters silent and often unremarked on seemed to me to dominate the play even when  silent or in the shadows

I left feeling that you didn’t need to know the original Three sisters to enjoy Blake Morrison’s  version, Though it’s obviously hung onto a rough three sisters outline,, it had gloom enough to go around but was also bright and witty  ( though I know initially Chekhov wrote “the three sisters “as a comedy. I don’t think you can actually say you wrote a comedy when you have to explain to people it’s a comedy, which apparently Chekhov had to do ).This play however was genuinely laugh out loud funny, in the places intended to be funny and the lines were expertly delivered with perfect comic timing.

Later  we were joined by two cast members the young actresses who had played Ann and the equally talented Emily The interviews were a joy. I asked the actress playing Ann if she had read Agnes Grey as it seemed to show in her character and she said yes she had read all Annes work and esp. her poetry which she loved and that she had read a great deal of Juliette barkers biography which she is still studying. I asked her  if she liked Ann ,she said yes she loved Ann for “her optimism ,for daring to be an unashamed romantic ,for always searching for the good in people and despite adversity daring to dream big and see beauty in everyday, which is a real gift.”
I then asked “Emily if having so little of Emilys own words outside of her novel and poetry was liberating or restrictive. She said it was both “it was a challenge getting to know Emily as she didn’t want to be known” which I thought was an excellent and intuitive summary .Of the character of Emily in the play as elsewhere she felt “a lot is imaginary and other people’s ideas “. She has also read widely and is very familiar with Juliette Barker’s work and Emily poetry .She named reciting the poetry as one of the highlights of the play for herself. Both of the actresses where charming and very happy to talk.

I should like to thank the young ladies for their patience and time which no doubt left them, little time for leisure and food between their interview with us and the later performance. All in all I was glad we had seen the play and sorry I had left it so late, perhaps the play should have focused less on its Chekhovian origins and been keener to stress its strengths which to me seemed to be non Chekhovian elements which to me at least seemed to be the larger part of the play. Blake Morrison seems to have made the wise choice of ignoring what was a perhaps ill-advised brief and imposed a better brighter vision onto it.

Abigail Bell is the pseudonym of  Lyn Marie Cunliffe

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Lucy Locket lost her Pocket,,A short look at a forgotton treasure

pocket boston(http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/pocket-112116)

The almost forgotten rhyme

“Lucy locket lost her pocket ,Kitty fisher found it ,not a penny was there in it but the binding round it ”

Is the only remaining record in popular culture of a little known yet long treasured item of women’s clothing and its meaning is like pockets themselves becoming lost to history.

met pocket


Pockets  were an essential item of dress for many centuries and were once the most emotionally valuable  item a woman could posses as can be seen by amount of work often put in to making and decorating these  never seen items.

pair of pockets

In our modern homes ,we can probably never appreciate the value of these items to women in past centuries.Until the early years of the 20th c it was not unusual for  adults to share beds with siblings and certainly most would have shared rooms .If you were a servant or governess of lived away from home in a boarding school  as either a pupil or teacher , your personal possessions could be searched  if a theft had occurred,or examined to ensure you were” forming habits of orderliness ” or merely by the curious (there is an incident recorded in Charlotte Brontes Villette of the  owner of a school rifling through her new teachers clothing and possessions while the teacher is assumed to be asleep)even your underwear was not private ,,there are many records of laundry fees being charged to governess ,pupils etc,I have seen many items of Victorian clothing with names written or embroidered into them and though I can find no confirmation of it I suspect this is because the items would be washed in common with other clothing in big houses ,schools etc as there is no other logical reason for it,,why write your name on underwear you will be either wearing ,storing in your chest of drawers or washing yourself..There was therefore very little privacy, richer women may have had writing boxes or work boxes but even these were not entirely secure,  they were often left open or could be easily picked or forced  openThe pocket was for many years a womans only secure place for items she wanted to keep private or secure.

Pockets could be single or a matching pair.

yellow pockets 1785

they were usually lined and fastened with tape ties,though size varies Most are  a similar shape to those above and around 10 to 12 ins deep and are accessed by front openings.Some are larger ,very few are smaller ,I personally find pockets around 12 ins deep by 6 wide at their base the best size as they are large enough for bulky items but not too cumbersome

Pockets were also a common gift from women to other women perhaps on birthdays ,weddings etc .Pockets could also be bought ready-made but this is less common than making your own.(simple  un embroidered Pockets are fairly quick to make,I can make a pair in a day and if I use embroidered fabrics or damask they can still look surprisingly effective )

perhaps letters from loved ones, mementoes ,keys to her writing box or trunk.Alongside its value as a private space ,it was invaluable on a practical level ,it acted very much like the modern workmans tool belt,containing things needed regularly such as watches,scissors, pins ,handkerchiefs ). They  also acted much like our modern handbags containing mirrors,combs ,money ,perhaps perfume ,smelling salts , a frequent item is a long pin ,,used for securing hats or neck kerchiefs,etc ,this must have been not just useful for securing clothing but seems to have been seen as a defensive item from time to time,we have one story from Samuel Pepys diary were a lady he is flirting with  in church threatens him with a long hat pin . Larger pockets seemed to have also been used to tuck away snacks .I have complied a list of possible pocket contents through the ages( my source is primarily the V and A excellent article http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/history-of-pockets/ but includes some extra items from newspapers ,inquests etc and some items mentioned as ladies possessions in the 16thc)

Almost always mentioned are




Items of jewellery such as brooches



pins of assorted kinds


small knives (needed  for an assortment of things  ,to sharpen pencils ,pen nibs,to open letters, cut open the pages of books as these often came uncut par fruit)

Very frequently mentioned and most often recommended by ladies advice columns ,magazines or letters

small Pins/pin cushion

needles /needle case


(I also assume in instances where these are being carried outside the home the contents included small amounts of thread,,or the thimble and needles are somewhat useless but as most external pocket contents are based on instances of theft which only require  records of items of value thread would go unrecorded)



note book.

Smelling salts

pocket watch ( perhaps rarely in earlier centuries pocket sundials which were carried by the rich)

spectacles (if worn)



snuff box

personal medicines/pills

objects of sentimental value ,lockets, locks of hair,miniature portraits ,love letters,

Less frequently and probably for outside use

Gloves (though mittens seem to have been stashed in pockets when at home)


letters,passports, tickets etc

The words pocket  knife,pocket watch ,pocket handkerchief  ,pocket-book all show the original home of such items .

The word Pocket  is I am told an old English word (12th to 15th c ) however .I feel it likely they were then a visible external items as they could not have been worn under the fitted Kirtles of the early middle ages.These Kirtles did have openings as can be seen here in a painting from the late 14thc but its hard to imagine enough space for pockets large enough to store anything but a few pennies without spoiling the line of the gown and the cord ties of a pocket  around the waist would possible cause an unslightly wrinkle at the waist a little bit like our  underwear VPL  which spoils the look of fitted skirts and trousers in the present day

tommassio medieval painter pockets 1330

I cant find any reference to pockets discovered in medieval graves, eg the Smithfeild plague pits (though later pockets are fabrics which are unlikely to survive some  early 16th examples have wirework decorations  or use fabric with metalic thread work and this  could have survived.Unfortunately  I have been unable to gain access to original excavation reports so its possible there are fragments which may have been pockets .)

It is still hard to imagine gowns with the fitted shape of that below could conceal a typical pocket


There are many examples of extant pouches which are top openings and look a little like bags  ,these seem to be outer wear as  it would be hard to access that kind of opening under a gown and the style suggests a hand bag style object or at least a bag to go on a belt


Certainly in  the 13th c Pouches were outerwear as seen on this tomb from 1283


If we assume pockets became under gown items with the rise of the houppelande around the 1380s/90s


That still leaves at least 450 years of  widespread use and another 50 years when they became rarer but were still worn though they seem to die out in widespread under gown use around 1840 .There are many 184os pockets surviving though they tend to be plainer than earlier examples ,,these come from the Kay Shuttleworth collection



The use of pockets dies out later for children and they continue in use amongst the  elderly and the lower classes.

There is a mention of them in a few novels such as  David Copperfield, 1850,:

‘Releasing one of her arms, she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, and brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed into my pockets, and a purse which she put in my hand, but not one word did she say.’

.I suspect in the 1850s  the pockets demise among younger women  as a common item of  underwear was influenced by  the degree to which a woman could afford the fashionable cage crinolines as,though crinolines have a gap at the front it would be very difficult to access pockets via it and I have never seen an 1850s gown which had either pocket slits or was fastened in a way that would allow easy access to pockets.I personally find it easy and very useful to wear pockets under gowns from the Tudor era up until the late 1830s after which it becomes harder to accommodate a pocket.(ironically the most common use for pockets amongst re enactors is for mobile phones ! as while professional re enactments require absolute authenticity down to the lack of undergarments,,pockets are a great place to stash “forbidden modern comforts)

There are miscellaneous later references in stories but ,,the last official records I can find of tie on pockets is in the inquest notes of  the Rippers victims  from the late 1880s  one  is described as having had” A large pocket worn under the skirt and tied about the waist with strings (empty when found) another was wearing a pair of pockets and another single pocket also tie on (footnote 1)Another ripper victim Elizabeth stride  (d 1888) has a petticoat with a large pocket,,I own a mid-Victorian petticoat with such a pocket and in shape and size it mirrors the original tie on pockets  .One ripper victims (Elizabeth strides)had  contained or at least still had in it at the time she was found..

  • A key (as of a padlock)
  • A small piece of lead pencil
  • Six large and one small button
  • A comb
  • A broken piece of comb
  • A metal spoon
  • A hook (as from a dress)
  • A piece of muslin
  • One or two small pieces of paper
  • (Manchester’s  Platt hall has several lower middle class /upper lower class basic pockets which were probably of the kind worn by the  rippers victims)

cotton pocket

(This image and several more of pockets can be found in this excellent online resource for the visual arts VAD  http://www.vads.ac.uk/large.php?uid=94098&sos=12)m


I personally suspect pockets did not go out of use but merely changed use and were transferred to petticoats .I am not sure how long they survive in petticoats .

There is no other item of  hidden clothing for which we have such an enduring record and which changes so little in design over so long a period.

The majority of surviving pockets  up to the 1800s are almost without exception beautifully made often  they are embroidered or  use expensive fabrics gleaned from scraps of expensive gowns ,later in the 1800 to 1820 when straight regency gowns become fashionable pockets become less ornate and often white,,so as not to show under the gowns ,,a further proof I feel that pockets continued in very general use throughout the regency era of straight often light coloured gowns , The pockets seem to have continued to be less ornate up until their eventual demise but even simple pockets are still beautifully stitched .The obvious time lavished on them and the use of decoration on unseen items  is enough to tell us something of their importance to women ,pocket decoration is purely for the woman herself ,not to show off her husband’s status or her own accomplishments .

If you would like to make your own pocket the V and A Museum has a guide here



Hidden or on display?

Pockets for most of their history and in most countries were very rarely worn outside of clothing or designed to be objects of display.The pockets of the lower classes in the 16th to early 19th c might peep from beneath aprons or hitched over skirts but no lady wishing to appear genteel would usually wish hers to be on display  .Interestingly for a  while  in 16thc Italy it was briefly  fashionable for ladies to wear a lavishly made pocket at their waist , one was found tied to the body of Eleanor of Toledo beneath her satin  gown and they can be seen on numerous Italian paintings.

birth of the virgin alleri http://aneafiles.webs.com/saccoccia.html, footnote 2)

I can find no record of the fashion spreading to the UK though its possible it was a feature of fashionable”undress” wear .

pocket 16thc

footnote 1

http://www.casebook.org/victims/chapman.html  ,The ripper victims provide a tragic but invaluable source of costume information ,unlike fashion magazines or novels these poor lower class ladies are shown in their everyday clothing The pockets found on the victims were the kind now completely lost to us ,made from rough fabrics and  purely functional those of a kind used by the poorest and lowest classes eg  Catherine Eddows owned a pair made of unbleached calico and a further single one made of bed ticking .I use this website as it is the most accurate and “user friendly”online source.

Footnote 2

The source given for detailed treatment of pockets is excellent and the website is recommended for study of 16th Italian clothing ,I do however disagree with Anea who considers the Duchess Eleanor of Toledo was buried in a gown with an integral pocket,I feel the pocket description as being tied on was accurate ,its likely she was buried with a few private possessions which may have perished .The items which survived best in Eleanor’s grave were those in very close contact with the body such as stays or stockings or those under the body ,this is because fluids escaping during putrification preserved them.

Pocket contents list has  been taken largely from information here


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Tudor and Elizabethan clothing research sources

I have been planning my new years wardrobes ,I always like to have some central theme or historical figure in mind as  it then makes it easier to focus detailed research on the gowns ,head dresses  etc.My usual choice is assorted queens from the Tudor era as the portraits of artists such as Holbein.


or master John.


All provide excellent sources for both an overall look and more importantly for visual detailing.

princess mary tudor neckline

jane-seymour-portraitHowever when using portraits for such details its a good idea to hunt around for other versions of  them and with Holbein to see if its possible to find his preliminary sketches.


For instance the famous and contemporary  portrait of Jane Seymour by Holbein  has two different versions largely identical  in pose, clothing and style though they  differ in several details eg   in one Jane wears more elaborate sleeves than in the other and there is less embroidery on the blackwork cuffs


The portrait earlier in the post if Holbein’s own “official” portrait while the other version while roughly contemporary is from the studio of Holbein and while obviously based on his original sketches differs slightly.It’s handy to play spot the difference on various portraits.

I find it helpful to examine each portrait  however famous or universally accepted as carefully as lawyer  would some important legal contract they was required to sign.

The portraits will be the foundation of any costume  and on their accuracy and reliability the authenticity of  your finished outfit and your reputation depends.However carefuly made or recreated an outfit based on a flawed source is effectively useless .I use the outfits as visual aids ,I consider them as  I would a thesis or academic paper .While it’s obviously outside my pocket to make 16thc gowns  of cloth of gold ,venetian silk damask etc  or trim hood with genuine gemstones I can do everything possible to recreate the shape ,look and layers as accurately as  possible . I always strive to have them as near to historically perfect as possible and always point out any aspects of costumes which I have been forced to compromise on

purple tudor gown

After choosing a portrait or painting I usually do the following checks


Is it actually a confirmed portrait of the person it claims to be .I do use disputed portraits but never use them for any outfit that forms the core of a teaching wardrobe ,if you’re replicating a  Tudor or Elizabethan costume for historical purposes ,knowing its function when being worn is essential and unknown sitters are useless for this .

2/ Is the portrait completely contemporary? ,later portraits ,copies etc while useful are flawed ,its unlikely later painters saw the clothing worn with their own eyes  or saw the fashions being worn .Even if the painter is copying an original lost portrait the new version will have been created with a different purpose in mind to the original ,For example consider this famous portrait of Anne Boleyn.

457px-Anne_boleynIt’s in the National portrait gallery labeled as Anne Boleyn and always used in biographies of her .It’s widely believed by the public that this is Anne’s contemporary portrait however that is not the case it is a much  later copy and only one of several versions of the same image.The one below is from Hever castle the Boleyn’s home


In all later portraits there is a hidden agenda , items may have been added to  highlight the prestige of the sitter  or details showing links to them by the person commissioning the portrait.

For example

I always have misgivings about the famous B necklace worn by Anne  in her most famous portraits .The portraits in which she is wearing it are later copies ,there is never any record of her wearing a necklace like it in verbal accounts  and it doesn’t show up on other contemporary portraits of her . There seems no reason for her to have chosen to habitually wear such a necklace.While loyal to and proud of her family ,Once in the public eye she was always very keen to stress her royal and aristocratic ties rather than her less exalted family ties .Perhaps she had a B necklace when she first went to court but wearing a B necklace for an official portrait rather than  one showing symbol of rank or some necklace with her and Henry’s arms or initial intertwined seems odd .It’s doubly suspicious to me because the source of the portraits in which she is wearing the necklace seem to be  the Hever castle painting ,Hever was the Boleyn’s seat and her family home.It seems much more likely that in later years the opportunist Boleyn family commissioned portraits of the now  famous rather than infamous Anne ,mother of the reigning queen and were keen to highlight unequivocably her origins in their family .The image bears no relation  to  most other possible images of Anne which all seem like each other but unlike the portrait.


anne  b

.I personally feel it likely the Holbein sketches are Anne and are preliminary to the lost full length portrait and the  more formally posed sketch is the basis for the medal below.


Which is our only contemporary image and  was stuck in her brief reign.To enter a detailed assessment of these portraits is beyond the scope of this post but the Anne Boleyn files contains and excellent and as always very well researched treatment of the subject here


The second  point follows on and is an extension of the above comments, do some parts  of the painting look less reliable than others ? as its possible details have been added later or mistakes made in restoring the painting.An excellent  example is the Leonardo da Vinci Lady with an Ermine


The lady is wearing a unsual hair style which is more or less impossible to recreate and a strange double heandband.The painting was heavily retouched and the veil which ran under the lady’s chin painted the same colour as her hair to match it ,Thus not only can the painting provide a misleading hairstyle but also give the impression the lady’s head is uncovered.The actual hair should look something like this ,another Leonardo portrait ,usually called La Belle Ferronnierre


It’s also handy to do a “character check” on the painting to make sure it has a satisfactory provenance.

3 /Try to always use a second and preferably  written source. For the Tudor court  the accounts of the great wardrobe  provide much detailed information on fabrics trims etc and accounts from ambassadors ,courtiers etc give details on when and where the gowns were worn ,how suitable they seemed ,the impression they created etc.I think the Medici version is called  the gardrobbe but Medici letters and documents are availible online here


4  Moving on from portraiture try to find  extant similar items  For later Elizabethan outfits we have the items and information gained from the Elizabeth 1 funeral  effigy .

effigy-corset on

The clothing removed from the original are the usual source for detailed information on the stays worn under late Elizabethan gowns.


and  are backed up not just by Elizabeth’s wardrobe accounts but also  the famous  portrait of Elizabeth Veron in a state of less than formal dress showing how they were worn .though there are minor difference in the stays in essential details they are the same



Getting the under layers correct is the basic foundation needed to have the costume look perfect and is the main problem for this era ,very few extant undergarments exist and are mostly  either from overseas and often from funeral effigy or clothing taken from re interred bodies.

For extant over gowns we have no actual  complete early  UK Tudor gowns ,we some shifts or shirts such as those below now in the museum of costume in Bath

Drea bath smocks

It is only for the later period we have extant clothing.This is largely from tombs ,effigies or religious statues .The most reliable gown we have has been restored from fragments taken from the body of Eleanor of Toledo and is not entire ,though the surving fragments allow it to be compelty recreated…the orginal gown fragments are dark the added fabric used to recreate the gown is white

extant elenaore

elenaro extant

whatever may be the moral implications of disturbing a body and removing its clothing ,the information gained from clothing taken from the Medic tombs is invaluable.The Eleanor  gown provided details of lacing ,under layers ,fabrics and trims ,a pair of stays worn with the gown were also recovered and restored


and also stockings

HOSEExEleanoraMCM2The wealth of information gained from clothing from the Medici tombs was my main reason for choosing Eleanor of Toledo as my choice for late 16th outfits this year,it would be possible to recreate an entire outfit at actual size if desired ,Sources used here include an excellent but expensive book on the  subject  Moda alla Corte dei Medici.

16thc gown

.The tomb clothes are backed up by portraits  of both Eleanore and other ladies.I will be using the gown for my Elizabethan talks and though italian it is a useful source as we have written evidence Elizabeth 1 dressed in italian style gowns and we also have contemporary portraits of Elizabeth shown directly below and other ladies  such as Mary queen of Scotts seen under the Elizabeth portrait in similar gowns.


black dress mary

The Eleanore funeral gown is backed up by other extant items such as the Pisa gown ,cut in exactly the same way as the Eleanor gown and with similar decoration .

pisa gown

The uk is represented by some very late Elizabethan /early  Stuart overgowns and jackets most of which are in the V and A museum and can be viewed online

vam overgownThe most useful  Uk item for teaching purposes is this jacket dated by the portrait in which it appears to 1620s but in basic design  the same  that is seen in earlier late Elizabethan portraits such as the Elizabeth Veron one


Once I have a firm idea of the underlying look and shape of accurate gowns I usually turn to costume dramas which have gained a respected reputation for accuracy for example Elizabeth R which created details  replica gowns from many of Elizabeth’s portraits including this excellent  incredibly detailed replica

elizabth r gown

Created using the little known phoenix portrait.

Elizabeth20 phoennix

Or this equally impressive replica of a much more famous outfit based on the Ditchley portrait

mitchley side

385px-Queen_Elizabeth_I_('The_Ditchley_portrait')_by_Marcus_Gheeraerts_the_YoungerThis outfit perfectly illustrates the advantage of using reputable costume dramas is it recreates the back of the gown which is barely glimpsed on portrait.

ditchley back

It also highlight a problem in creating costumes for use in public ,Most people assumed that the series had taken liberties with the back of the gown however a close look at the portrait shows that the back is indeed made from a more or less identical  fabric.Its occasionaly better if creating gowns for  non academic events to alter them slightly ,for instance make the back of this gown white as is assumed is the case as opposed to them more accurate version above.

The final use of costume drama is to see how comfortable or uncomfortable a gown is likely to be and how it moves, how much it limits movement and how much space it takes up .

Having used Elizabeth R as an example of good costume dramas which used respected costumers,original extant sources and sound research I would like to add a cautionary word about popular and well known though much less reliable costume dramas,some were nominated or won costume Oscars or awards which can give the impression of reliability however awards are judged by many criteria and visual impact is much more important than accuracy

The other Boleyn  girl is infamous in costuming circles for the liberties taken with Tudor costumes ,from the slightly less noticeable flaws such as the weird  far too short french hoods ,with coloured rather than black veils in Marys case and none at all in Annes ..

The Other Boleyn Girl

The hoods are  also shown with gowns of a much later style but most infamous are the “dressing gowns /Overgowns which seem based on mens 18thc dressing gowns


Yes even badly costumed films do occasionally provide helpful inspiration for instance the Other Boleyn girls contains two excellent and surprisingly accurate versions of the rarely used English intermediate hood ,,all be it worn far to back on the head in Marys case


Another popular misconception gained from movies and series such as ,La rein Margot,The other Boleyn girl and the Tudors is that 16th women habitually wore gowns slipping off their shoulders

la_reine_margot_1993_diaporama_portraitOr without the prerequisite  under layers


Though I love this red gown ,none of the ladies have on chemises or the correct petticoats.The drastic effects of poor layering can be seen in the two contrasting images of a stunning Elizabeth R gown .(images from costume movies and screen stills can be seen here ( http://periodmoviecaps.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/elizabeths-green-surcoat-gown.html)

eliz green gown

which can been seen 1 hour 4 mins into the episode the marriage game

and again worn in a much less impressive manner and with poor attention to detail and without the correct layers in The acclaimed saga of England’s virgin queen here

tudorelizabethan055.2Other examples of reused gowns can be seen here,the results often show the necessity for correct underlayers and accessories,though in some instances they are useful for seeing  how a gown can be changed to look different once its been used.


I hope this has been a helpful post both in providing sources of extant items and in giving general tips for costume research

There is an extreemly exhaustive list of historical costume sources to be found


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Artifacts,privacy and Morality ponderings on King Richard III ,the Brontes and Eva Peron

I  always feel that historians ,anthropologists and archeologists can have a slightly schizophrenic attitude to the dead ,wanting to study their lives in detail yet mindful these were real people.They are also  forced to make decisions of what is and isn’t morally acceptable to share with the online community or display in museum.Posting images online of human bones such as the ancient  child below is essential so that other researchers can use the images to compare with similar finds,but on the other hand this was once a loved child of some long dead mother who must have grieved its loss.It doesnt therefore seem right to put it on display in a public space.Should it be buried ? if it was a modern child there would be no debate it would of course get a “decent burial” but its possible if it was buried we would lose the chance to learn more of the age it lived in and for this era in particular there are religious and historical debates ,technology constantly advances and just as we now feel exasperated at lost chances to examine bones such as those of the possible lost princes or Anne Boleyn other future historians might well curse us.

(The skull of “Lucys Child” an ancient skull of a child from the same era as the early hominid skeleton fragments named by its finders Lucy.The skeleton and that of the child is the subject of a massive debate about evolution )

I have been considering for some time what is and isn’t appropriate for historians and archaeologists to study and display and how far researchers can legitimately pry into the private lives of the dead ,Partly because of the Bronte clothing I examined  and past work on Digs or work submitted on the ancient past but mostly because  of my research on Eva Peron and the recent controversy on where King Richard III should be buried.(I will include images so that readers of this post can come to their own opinions so I would like to warn readers they will be images that they may find upsetting .)

I came to a few conclusions I thought I would share for feedback.

I am always thrilled to know that human remains such as “Lucy”and “Lucys child”have been found on a dig ,,they can tell us so much about the past ,,the  life lived ,the diet  and diseases of a population .The interest and excitement felt by archaeologists and anthropologists when remains are found is not ghoulish but because they realise the wealth of information now available before them .While documents and artifacts are extremely useful especially grave goods they have limitations too .Writings have usually been written with a function in mind rather than for historical accuracy and can lie.Grave goods are more informative but their usefulness limited to the quantity found ,,whereas ,bones can’t lie and even tiny fragments can tell us of a long lost past .The dead can talk and tell us movingly of the times they lived through ,their lives ,their hardships and often their deaths.For example it’s almost certain the individual below was considered to be a possible “revenant” or vampire and buried with the stone to prevent their return from the grave .The posting online of such photos helps other people who may stumble across such deviant burials to understand what they may have discovered and how widespread such beliefs where across time and countries (A case of a supposed “vampire” occurred in modern-day Romania a few years back )

I should not care too much what happened to my own body and considered donating it to be used by medical students but I know this can be traumatic for relatives.While I am fine with being dissected I am not sure how happy I am while living to think of bits of me stashed in freezers and jars for months or years and passed around in classes and  I shouldnt like to think of such a fate awaiting my husband or loved one.

I feel very strongly  that human remains for the documented past should be treated with the respect that would have been expected of the people when alive and treated as people and any remains however distant in time and however tiny should be kept off public display.I have never had problems with graves and gravesites as they are just stone memorials and anyone who wants to is welcome to sit lie ,have a picnic or drink on mine ,though I know for many in Whitby or who attend the goth weekend this has become a big issue recently.However I think we owe the actual bones of the dead more sensitivty.I was somewhat disgusted to find Leicester was given permission to bury the bones of Richard III in their cathedral ,I can see logically he has  been there for this long and they  (in theory ) ran the dig that found him .However the decision seems to be based mostly on profit and the interests of the city .York was barely even given space to put its case  and  yet the north and especially the area of Yorkshire surrounding  York  has always been fiercely loyal to the memory of Good King Richard,it has campaigned  to promote respect for his memory and to defend his character ,when it discovered Richard had lost at Bosworth and the Tudor Henry was now king it still defended Richards reputation  .Richard lived around here ,was raised here and governed here for many ,many years.

It seems likely he planned to be buried here so he should  lie here in peace  ,there’s been talk of him “coming home to York ” to give him a “Kings burial “and to” honour his memory” ,,not so we can create visitor attractions.

The choice of the Anglican cathedral in Leicester also highlight another issue with regard to human bones ,the method of interment. Richard was a Roman Catholic and even today Roman Catholics do not take communion with Anglicans or vice versa so burying a Catholic in an Anglican Church with Anglican rites is plainly wrong ,we would not consider it appropriate to  bury a muslim in a church with an Anglican  funeral service

While I think examining the bones of the dead when they have been exhumed for legitimate  reasons or discovered on digs is valid and extremely useful tool for understanding the past and warrants extensive study and publication of findings.I also feel it should be done quickly and the remains then be stored carefully and out of sight if they are not reburied.Exhuming disputed bones such as the children said to be the “princes in the Tower is another moral problem

In such cases exhumation  seems valid as it bears directly on historical reputations and also on whether we still need to find bodies or whether the search can be ended .I do however find it disturbing that the Medici graves have been excavated purely to gain information on the Individuals and while on one level I find the information gained invaluable ,the striping of the Medici bodies of their clothing  and the extensive invasive tests seem very wrong .

I personally  cant find any valid reason for publicly displaying any human remains however old but most especially when the identity of the person is known  .I am always slightly puzzled that Egypt with its passion for the honour of its Pharaohs should display their bodies in glass cases for the masses to gawk at rather than keeping them somewhere safe but out of sight .

I also find it ghoulish the amount of attention devoted to the  relics of saints or on a secular level the mummy of Eva Peron and extremely sad how much the body suffered .Though the need to violate the corpse shows in itself that for many the bodies of the dead are deeply important.

I have been posting on Eva perons life and legacy and having reached the end I am  unsure how much of the bodies travels to cover and what images to post ,I think it’s historically valid to cover her death and show the glass coffin as that was public and she had agreed to it prior to her death .Likewise though I admit with some typically modern reservations.  I feel it legitimate to show the lying in state or the photographs taken at Perons request of Evas body.It’s difficult as someone living in any particular place to know what images of the dead are appropriate to people living in other places and how much they should be public,I lived for a while in a remote area of Scotland where older residents would expect visitors to visit to view the dead and pay their respects and in many countries “open coffin” funerals are common.

Likewise it’s not uncommon  in many part of the world today for post-mortem photographs of the recent dead to be taken and certainly these were a common feature of  Victorian life and designed to be publically seen


This is usualy from affection and a wish to have some way to remember a dead loved one,Posting images of the dead for news or for profit seems to me essentaily much less acceptable.

I also think it valid to cover findings discovered by study of the body thats been found or disinterred .In the case of Eva Peron that means the notes made when it was rediscovered as it bears directly on her legacy and emotions evoked by her even so many years after her death  .The body was displayed publicly  when rediscovered which I think was probably necessary to show it was actually Eva about to be buried .(I am not entirely sure it was wise of the USA not to show photos if the dead Osama Bin Laden for this reason) but I cant find any  real justification for showing later close up images of her corpse  being repaired or of the damage done to it by anti Peronists

I lastly  I considered our attitude to those relatives of the famous dead,I always feel sorry that Princess Diana’s death can still be turned over in the news without any consideration for the feelings of her ex husband and more especially her children.I also can never understand the fury directed at relatives of the dead for destroying their letters. In many cases it blackens their names to future biographers ,consider the negative coverage of Mr Arthur Bell Nichols, Charlotte Bronte’s husband or Cassandra Austen Jane Austen’s sister and closest friend.

It is surely entirely within their rights to want to keep private ,their loved ones private lives.Its nice for historians when they dont of course.I also find it very odd that it’s often those who are most indiscrete about their past friends or loved ones past lives who we most approve of and like and who gain the best reputations,I again think of the Brontes and the contrasting “press” given to people such as Ellen Nussey and Arthur Bell Nicholls.It seems to be an appalling lack of fidelity to a friend’s memory to hand over their private correspondence.

.Its  almost understandable if you were only a close acquaintance such as Charlotte publishers or her later famous friends as she was probably more guarded in what information or views she expressed but it is entirely different when you have known someone since their youth and know that their views and the information relayed would not have been publically shared and often contains information about still living people who can be hurt or at the very least have their own private lives raked over (I know Ellen Nusey removed some names and some lines but there was still adequate  information to recognise individuals and a lot of very private details ,,such as Charlotte’s marriage proposals) It’s doubly unpleasant to think Ellen Nussey knew that Mr Nicholls had been worried enough about the letters becoming public to discuss it with Charlotte and also that she only had them because she broke her promise to Charlotte  burn them .I can entirely sympathise with Mr Nichols decision to destroy some items especially to ask the wedding dress be destroyed ,it shows again an insight into the likely fate of private items that survived.Many very personal items exist in the Parsonage collection ,stockings, night caps,dresses ,corsets while tastefully displayed at the Parsonage ,lovingly preserved  and an invaluable resource for Bronte students ,it cannot have been something he would have liked.

His decision to save other items such as the portrait,the tiny diary papers etc shows he was sensitive to the Bronte legacy but equally sensitive to his wife and her family’s right to privacy.

Which is the more intrusive?to examine and display clothes which will mostly likely have been waving on washing lines or sent to the laundry maid in the big houses or schools  where the Brontes worked as students Governesses and teachers or publically display private correspondence .Does it matter so long after someones death and that of everyone concerned.I personaly  wouldn’t care if my undies were in a glass case but I would care about any private correspondence that might hurt others being public.

However I can never feel it’s morally right for loved ones to destroy the work of the deceased if it was written for publication or public performance.I think mostly of the fate of Emily Brontes lost second novel which was most likely burned by Charlotte ,probably because she felt it inappropriate and likely to be misunderstood.But there are numerous other cases, the many lost MSS of composers or poets ,it seems to me wrong to destroy the outpourings of the human soul and also to deny history work that had been prepared for it.

(previously;y lost Mss of Beethoven

I am curious on the views of others on this issues.

Posted in 15thc, 16thc/17thc, 19thc, brontes, Eva Peron, Hathaways of Haworth, history, Tudors, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Eva Peron Becoming Evita

As I covered the time before she met Peron in my last post ,I thought I would  pick up a little further along and start from Perons time as President .I realise there are  incidents during the time before they marry that many consider pivotal but  most of the events don’t have reliable historical records and often Evas own words contradict the suppositions of historians and biographers even where it would be in her best interest to let them seem correct .

For these reasons I feel its best to pick up the story once Evas life becomes easy to document.This post is a brief introduction to Evas life as first lady and an examination of her relationship with Peron ,more detailed posts on her work in politics ,charitable work and “rainbow tour “will follow

When Eva left the civil marriage ceremony and later official church ceremony (seen below)

she had  now managed the almost impossible ,she had made the huge leap from acknowledged mistress to wife.Whatever the political benefits the photographs of the couple suggest that they were also very fond of each other ,,non posed photos often show them looking at each other with genuine affection and full eye smiles.

Peron is almost always looking at eva in informal shots and they always seem genuinly happy ,there are none of the slightly stiff smiles often seen in PR shots of presidents and their wives

Even towards the end of Evas life photos of Eva during her last appearacnes show the couple seemingly very close

It was during their early years of married life they  also acquired the first of their  pets

Eva seems to have been especillay fond of her dogs

There are few informal photographs of the couple either at this time or in the years that follow  where they don’t have their pets close by

this is taken on their farm ,though Eva looks slightly nervouse of the horse

Theres even photos Eva having her make up done with her pet dog on her lap

Tragically Eva had also probably signed her death warrant alongside the marriage certificate,Perons first wife had died from cervical cancer ,the cancer that would finally cost Eva her own life and its known that HPV or the male  gentile warts virus is a main cause of cervical cancer,Peron probably infected both his first wife and Eva.Later gossip would claim the cause of Evas  cancer was promiscuity but in reality the only bearing promiscuity has on the risk of cervical cancer is that the more partners you have the more likely you are to have  slept with one with the virus .As Perons first wife died from the same form of cancer it seems likely he was the carrier who infected Eva.Peron may have been the only man Eva slept with and is certainly the only one we can be certain she slept with despite rumours there has never been any one willing to speak out and say clearly she was their lover.It seems that in the early months of their marriage they enjoyed a happy almost normal if somewhat busy married life.

To marry your mistress and that mistress a lower class ex actress was unprecedented ,in the uk today its unlikely that any member of the royal family would have married  an actress let alone some one with Eva’s past of who had also featured in photographs in their swimwear so there must have been something remarkable in Eva’s character that made Peron take the gamble .Its true Eva had used her popularity and media access to promote Perons cause and been very prominent by his side in his campaigning .

however Peron must have allowed this because he had already decided to marry Eva and did so despite the possibility of it damaging his chances to win the battle for the presidency.He was extremely careful about his career and seems to have been planning his path to power for years,he wouldn’t have gambled it all on Eva if she hadn’t been remarkable.

Evas future life as first lady would be different to all past first lady’s,,that much was clear when Peron  encouraged her to represent him at events and invited her not just onto the Balcony of the Casa Rosada

but encouraged her to speak to the crowds both at the Casa Rosada  and elsewhere even today this would be unusual ,,its unlikely any modern UK prime minister or US president  would ask his wife to speak at events while he stood back and listened.The people and the crowds  may have been at events just for Peron at this time but in the not too distant future they would be there to see Eva and shouts of Peron would become shouts for Evita (little Eva),Evas face  usually looks cheerful and her eyes happy and smiling ,she hasn’t yet acquired the  earnest slightly drawn look of her later years as first lady or the weary determined look of her final year.

Evas early life as first lady  seems to have been a happy though busy time,she had not yet acquired the habit of extreme long hours .She moved into an office in the Central post and telecommunications office and began  her first work (Which I will deal with in a later post)She  also bought clothes in large quantities, which has since been criticised but was essential as many first lady’s or newly made princess ,have  discovered,, however smart a womans clothing  its unlikely they will be sufficient.Eva did have attractive clothes but not in the style required

Eva was criticised for appearing on her first official function in a one shoulder gown ,which once she was seated at table meant she had a clergyman next to her bare shoulder ,,today it would be less than ideal but at that time it was something of a scandal,,most people considered it deliberate but its much more likely it was a mistake,,one shoulder  or completely  strapless gowns were extremely fashionable so as an actress they would be am must for Eva and she may have not had a wide range of  evening clothes to wear that were modest enough yet glamorous and eva at this point does seem to have loved exuberant outfits and jewels

She also seems to have had a fondness for very high heels ,,probably to gain a little height as she wasnt particularly tall .Though after the European tours these also seem to get lower .

,few people will have a wardrobe extensive enough to cope with  at least  three changes a day ,private casual wardrobe , work /public visits wardrobe ,,including clothing suitable for meeting religious leaders ,visiting places of worship  and both would be needed in larger quantity than anyone is likely to have as there is a daily need.

.Finaliy there is the need for numerous evening gowns ,from the smart for dinner parties to the extremely smart for balls ,opera visits, official banquets etc.

In addition its very likely that Eva and Peron were beginning to consider how to forge links with allies in Europe and may have been planning her tour .Eva a seems to have loved clothes and loved picking the initaly very glamorous wrap style  or gathered  figure hugging dresses and suits

and elaborate ball gowns ,jewels

bags ,shoes and furs and hats which are usually quite large and worn far back on her head .

,In these early years she appears in a wide range of spectacular outfits in public .

though apparently still preferring trousers and casual shirts for private wear.

At this point she still wore her long thick  hair

the elaborate high styles  she had worn in her days as an actress

Later as she begins to become more and more involved in politics and her charitable work and more especially after she returns from Europe her hair changes from its bright blond to a more subtle blond .

the style gradually evolved  to the classic pulled back styles that is now her trademark.

Eva seems to have decided very early on not to be just the pretty face next to the president that did some charitable work in some of her free hours.Eva wanted to be different.

She wrote in her autobiography

This is a foundational circumstance and is related directly to my decision to be a President’s wife who does not follow the old model. I could have followed those models. I want to make this clear because sometimes people have tried to explain my “incomprehensible sacrifice” by arguing that the salons of the oligarchy would have been closed to me in any case. Nothing is further from the truth nor from common sense. I could have been a President’s wife in the same way that others were. It is a simple and agreeable role: appear on holidays, receive honors, “dress up” and follow protocol which is almost what I did before, and I believe more or less well, in the theater and the cinema. As far as the hostility of the oligarchs goes, I can’t help but smile. And I ask: why would the oligarchs reject me? Because of my humble origins? Because of my career as an actress? But has that class of persons ever taken those reasons into account, here or in any part of the world, when it is the case of the wife of the President? The oligarchy was never hostile to anyone who could be useful. Power and money are never bad advantages for a genuine oligarch… . But I was not just the spouse of the President of the Republic, I was also the wife of the leader of the Argentine people.

“Peron had a double personality and I would need to have one also: I am Eva Peron, the wife of the President, whose work is simple and agreeable … and I am also Evita, the wife of the leader of a people who have deposited in him all

“A few days of the year I represent Eva Perón … “

“Most of the time, however, I am Evita … “

We do not need to speak of Eva Perón. What she does appears profusely in newspapers and magazines everywhere.

their faith and love

Eva as Eva Peron still had strong family bonds and often had family member close to her ,no doubt partially because they could be trusted but also from genuine bonds of affection

It has been suggested Evas work was the result of being “snubbed ” by the “establishment” however its a simplification as Eva says ,she was the wife of the president ,some form of social acceptance would have to be forthcoming and she had Perons backing and support.

Eva had shown even as an actress that she had a “social conscience” and now seems to have seen an opportunity to do something to help the poor.It also seems that Peron had been training Eva to be his second in command ,In his biography he claims he choose and educated her to be his second in command ,someone he could trust absolutely to act in his best interest and make decisions that would help him and forward his agenda.Eva seems to have been utterly devoted to Peron and have gladly taken on the alloted role as unofficial “vice president” a role she never achieved officially and which at this time was probably not even suspected by Perons other advisors but which was slowly but surely being claimed for her.Eva immediatly began showing herself  working.

and tried to combat her lightweight “actress”  image

and throughout her heavy involvement in politics she made a point of showing herself as still a “traditional “wife.

She was mocked at first  for trying to appear  in a more serious light but eventually time would show she was a consummate professional at moulding her image.

I am indebted to the following  sites for several rare images




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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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Bronte clothing ,The pink Wrapper gown/dressing gown

This is  an unusual  garment far from  typical  of the Bronte clothing being a rather bright pink and very frilly .The dress,rather faded at the front but still fairly bright at the back though as can be seen there are far worse and more widespread faded segments on the  cape

It is a delightful outfit consisting of a pink full flowing open front  slip on dress and a little cape or bed cape.Its a pretty,very feminine and quite bright pink! .It’s quite long 52 ins and very full,I am not certain it can have been Charlotte’s as if you add an average head length of around 8 ins or even reduce that to a small head of 7 then add  3 ins or even 2 for the neck you still get a height of over 4.11 which was Charlotte’s and that’s  assuming  the dress skimmed the floor which seems unlikely in a wrapper or dressing gown,its possible its been let down in some way there did seem to be a few possible indications  I will need to have a close look at the photos on a much larger screen than my little laptop provides ,, It is extreeemly unlikely to be Annes as governess would have no occasion to wear wrappers but maybe it was Emilys ?

The gown  was  a house gown or wrapper dress, these  not the same as our dressing gowns but were an informal dress and were worn after rising but before getting properly dressed  ,,,a bit like throwing on some leggings and baggy t shirt.The gowns were designed to be easy to move around in and were worn without corsets and complicated  layers or petticoats.The gowns were worn to eat breakfast,do housework or just to wear for comfort or during pregnancy but had to be changed for proper day gowns before any company was expected.  Most of the extant gowns are very similar to the example at the parsonage ,though the parsonage gown seems unique in having its own separate little shoulder cape..This is  a similare dress and shows how  the gown would look when worn

There also a dark brown slightly more tailored version

The wrapper dresses typically go over your head then can be pulled to shape with some inner drawstring ,the front fastens usually with buttons at the neck.

The parsonage gown has in addition a nicely stitched belt to further pull the dress to shape and keep the front closed more neatly.The gown is very neatly sewn but probably home made.The fabric is not as good quality as the fabric of the other gowns which would be expected as the dresses main purpose was for wearing during the morning chores so it had to be hard-wearing and over and above using pretty fabrics there was little point in major expenditure as it was NEVER expected to be seen by anyone other than the family and servants  .Its quite pleasant to imagine the sisters wandering around doing the sweeping and cleaning or perhaps doing  a spot of writing in these pretty frilly gowns while locals moving around in the village yards  away thought of them as seriouse and plain and frumpy

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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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The red queen a review and Richard III a re assessment

I have just finished the Red Queen, I have read several Phillipa Gregory books and as always I am torn between enjoyment and irritation.

Phillipa Gregory’s books are well written and the plots interwoven into the bare bones of historical fact are clever and imaginative. The books backgrounds are obviously impeccably researched and their page turning brilliance often hides what is an impressive amount of background detail. Her novels are well grounded in detailed and wide-ranging research of what I assume is Primary as well as secondary sources. The background details are so carefully interwoven with the narrative they do not, as often happens in historical fiction  scream out “look, look I did my homework I know all this stuff about how they lived and I am sticking it in here because I really, really need to show off”

Her books are, en mass a wonderful exploration of the many varied ways that women could influence history and those around them. It explores their limited choices and how they react to them, without ever imposing modern views on her heroines. It’s often forgotten that the Tudor age was the Age of Queens rather than Kings .Women are the key characters behind most of the pivotal events of Tudor history.

Unfortunately what always spoils her books for me is the sneaking suspicion that her impeccable research is used by books publicists and her fans and made to create a d Vinci code confusion about exactly how factual her books are.

This is most obvious in her most famous book the Other Boleyn girl made famous by a movie whose costumes were as inaccurate as the interpretation of the story  itself, of all the Phillipa Gregory books I have read this was the one which most frequently ignored the facts to create a good read. It has sadly spawned a completely  false view of Ann Boleyn a woman who Gregory could have been more sympathetic to  as she is one of the very few women to radically alter English history by sheer force of personality

The factual accuracy of the Red Queen with regard to the time period I have to confess I cannot comment on in any detail as the Wars of the Roses are not a period I studied in any great detail. What I found very interesting was the sympathetic treatment of Margret Beaufort, a lady I have tried hard to like but find I mostly loathe. Margret Beaufort is  usually seen  as a  Saint ,she was devote and clever ,she never strayed from a life of strict piety, she was charitable and also sponsored learning .However  she was also fiercely  ambitious and  I suspect arrogant and cold Her darker side is seen most clearly by her treatment of other royal women once her Son is crowned king .She is most aptly described as “the mother in law from hell” .She  lords it over both his wife and  the ladies of his court ,insisting on walking barely  one pace behind his wife and taking precedence over his mother in law Elizabeth Woodville who had ,once been queen of England .She  had a high profile role at court and styled herself Margret R which seems to have been universally seen as being Margret Regina ,though she could claim it merely stood for Margret Richmond. Phillipa Gregory perfectly recreates the inner life of Margret and while presenting characters through the biased eyes of Margret still manages to convey that she is not entirely correct in her opinions of them. The reactions of Margret to events are perfectly at ease with the mindset of a late medieval lady. The book is well written and certainly a page turner, I read it through the night until I saw dawn and picked it up again early the next day. Phillipa Gregory puts forward the interesting idea that Margret is partly responsible for the death of the Princes in the tower through influencing Buckingham to arrange the murders and I find this an interesting and plausible idea.

Possible portrait of a young Margret Beaufort.

The supposed murder of the Princes in the Tower by Richard the third is often seen a proven fact .The truth is not quite so clear cut. There is no real proof the Princes, the uncrowned King Edward and his brother Richard were in fact murdered in the Tower of London and even less evidence to suggest Richard III was the one responsible. Even assuming the unlikely scenario that his character was as black as Shakespeare paints it there was no good reason for him to have killed the princes, He had declared them bastards, he was in reasonable control of much of the country and most  men preferred a strong adult king to a boy king controlled by his very unpopular mother however well-loved the children may have been by the populace.

In addition nothing in Richards character suggests him capable of such a crime ,he seems to have been devoted to his brother their father ,He was pious and  he was highly intelligent and would have realised having the two children in his control was much more useful than having two children  murdered a fact which would be sure to become public and cause an outcry and would move his  other adult rivals especially  Henry Tudor closer to the line of succession .The other convincing proof of Richards innocence is that Elizabeth Woodville the boy’s mother long after rumours of the princes  death are circulating comes to Richards court and seems to be on good terms  with him even to the extent that there is gossip that   he considers marrying her Daughter ,Elizabeth of York .It seems unlikely that she would have been so complaisant if she suspected he was capable of  the secret murder of her children

It’s just possible that one or both princes died of the plague or sweating sickness  or similar disease rampant in the city and were buried inside the tower as so many other prisoners have been in the past. Richard may have been worried about rumours of his murdering  them and  would be unlikely to be able to convince people of his innocence, however perhaps their mother was informed ,saw the bodies or heard the report from a trusted friend,  so this may be the simplest explanation for their disappearance and their mothers later actions. It is also very possible that the Princes were murdered by other claimants during Richards’s absence on Progress which is the time at which rumours start. It has always seemed much more likely to me that it was Tudor supporters who killed the Princes either in the tower or elsewhere. Killing the princes would remove the two major obstacles to Henry Tudor’s succession and also blacken the name of Richard III; their supporters would flock to Henry.

It’s been suggested that the princes escaped ,perhaps there was an attempt to rescue them which partially succeeded one prince escaping while the other was killed or perhaps both escaped .To me it does seem  plausible  that  the children are dead or have escaped at the point the rumours of their death are circulating or Richard would just have produced the children to disprove the rumours .It also seems unlikely that Elizabeth Woodville would have promised her daughter in Marriage to the princes rival Henry Tudor unless she had believed her sons dead. Likewise Henry Tudor passes an act which delegitimizes the children of Elizabeth Woodville in order to reinforce his future wife Elizabeth of York’s royal credentials and its effects would also mean the princes if living would be the rightful monarchs not himself so it’s unlikely he would have done that unless he was certain they were dead and not likely to be able to claim his crown. On the other hand it does appear that Henry VII was not personally responsible for the children’s fate, he did not know where the Princes were buried nor is he even certain that both are in fact dead, He seems ambivalent during the long years of the Perkin Warbeck threat and the widespread royal support afforded Warbeck suggests that those “in the know “did believe one child at least had escaped.

Henry Tudor when he recounted Richard the thirds crimes never mentioned the murder of the two princes and it was not universally belived at the time.

Richard the Third has always had a loyal following the North and even at the time of his death when to voice support for him was dangerous the citizens of York recorded

… king Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was through great treason of the duc of Northfolk [sic] and many other that turned ayenst hyme, with many other lordes and nobilles of this north parties was piteously slane and murdred to the grete hevynesse of this citie

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A scary story of vintage clothing and its hidden horrors

I am sorry for some reason all the images from this post have disapeared I will try to find the orginal files but in the meantime I have left it up incase the text  and links are useful

I thought it would be interesting to examine the hidden issues connected to buying vintage items ,while furs tend to attract the most negative attention there are other issues less obvious in buying many vintage items.

victorian 1860s gown

The most worrying  are those connected to health hazards and especially substances such as arsenic and mercury used in vintage items production,though not common there were cases of poisoning connected to Victorian gowns even during the 19thc ,several dye works were closed because unsafe amounts of arsenic were found in clothing .Pre  1890s  green clothing may well have had arsenic used in the creation of the dye .

1880s green dress

(painting seen here http://fannycornforth.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/passion-for-paxton.html)

Tales of clothing used to poison ladies was not limited to myths of the Medici court

http://www.dressaday.com/2010/01/dont-wear-green-tarletan-dresses.html(masachutists board of health 1883)

Attention has very frequently been called to the presence of large amounts of arsenic in green tarlatan, which has given rise so many times to dangerous symptoms of poisoning when made into dresses and worn, so that it is very rare now to see a green tarlatan dress. This fabric is still used, however, to a very dangerous extent, chiefly for the purposes of ornamentation, and may often be seen embellishing the walls and tables at church and society fairs, and in confectionery, toy and dry-goods stores. The writer has repeatedly seen this poisonous fabric used at church fairs and picnics as a covering for confectionery and food, to protect the latter from flies. As is well known, the arsenical pigment is so loosely applied to the cloth that a portion of it easily separates upon the slightest motion. Prof. Hoffmann after examining 11 large number of specimens estimated that twenty or thirty grains of the pigment would separate from a dress per hour, when worn in a ball-room….


But green tarlatan is not the only fabric which contains arsenic. We find arsenic sometimes in other substances used in making articles of wearing apparel, usually in the form of arsenical pigments. The writer detected a large amount of arsenic in a specimen of cloth known as “Foulard cambric,” which had been made into a dress; after wearing the dress a short time severe conjunctivitis was produced, together with nasal catarrh, pharyngitis, and symptoms of gastric irritation. The pattern of the dress consisted of alternate stripes of light-blue and navy-blue, and contained 0.291 grm. per square meter. Conjunctivitis has also been recorded from wearing of “tulle” dresses. A pustular eruption upon the neck and arms was caused by “a splendid dark-green dress, trimmed with light-green leaves,” obtained “from a well-known Parisian atelier;” the dress was found to contain “a large percentage of arsenic.”

Excessive irritation of the skin has frequently been caused by wearing stockings colored with an arsenical pigment. The writer has detected arsenic most frequently in light-red, magenta-colored and brown stockings;…..

There is what appears to be an excellent study of the subject here


While it seems unlikely to me that any vintage gown would be worn frequently enough for any modern poisoning to be severe ,the use of chemicals in the dye process should be an issue anyone wearing Victorian items is aware of .While most of us are unlikely to wear Victorian gowns ,I have worn Victorian stockings on one occasion when absolute accuracy was required and use Victorian lace and despite concerns about damage I always throughly soak and then wash under running water vintage items ,,Stockings ,gloves ,bonnets shawls may all have traces of arsenic .

report from Victorian newspaper

‘The evil effects of socks are well-known,’ said one newspaper, reporting that an MP was among many who had found themselves disabled after wearing arsenical stockings.

It’s should not be assumed this was a health scare that like many modern ones is based on hype and odd incidents of susceptible individuals,the amounts of arsenic found were extremely high and well recorded

1848 lancet,,,,

Examining the ball gown worn by one London society hostess, a doctor found 60 grains of Scheele’s Green per square yard – enough to kill 12 people. More alarmingly still, it was so loosely bound into the fabric that even the gentlest waltz could send it billowing out in a cloud of poisonous dust.

While not many people may buy or wear vintage Victorian clothing Lovers of vintage Victorian or pre Victorian  decorative items should also be aware it was used in curtains table runners ,paint on toys and other domestic items ,stuffed animals and wallpapers.Its considered a possibility that Napoleon was poisoned not by his captors but by the green wallpaper in his rooms .The ubiquity of arsenic in victorian wall coverings should not be underestimated and care taken when removing old paper from walls,,

extract ,,,

a revealing letter of 1885 from Morris to his dyer Thomas Wardle suggested that he might have used arsenic greens in his famous and desirable designs. The letter piqued my interest, and early samples of Morris &Co. wallpapers were tracked down to the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, in the UK, once the childhood home of Morris. The Gallery had a scrap,10 cm by 10 cm, of Trellis, Morris’ first wallpaper design, and the third to be printed. It came from the home of Morris’ general foreman George Campfield, and for this reason was thought to be of early origin. The scrap I received was a red rose on a green branch. The Museum allowed me to remove tiny flakes of pigments from Trellis for microanalysis. The results were immediate and impressive. The green branch was an arsenic-copper salt, the red rose vermilion. A highly toxic piece of art! This research was published in Nature..


modern cases


scarlett O haras green  curtain dress was probably a major health hazard!

scarlett o hara ,velvet curtian dress

Moving on from the well documented use of arsenic ,there is the issue of Mercury


What makes this dangerous is mercury’s extreme neurotoxicity. That is, its devastating effects on the brain and nervous system. The “mad hatters” of Victorian times suffered from mercury poisoning when they rubbed the metal into felt cloth to preserve it. Mental confusion, trembling and eventually death can result from inhaling the vapors of this liquid metal, Anyone buying a Victorian or earlier  hat should be aware of the human cost which was involved in its creation and be aware that its possible enough mercury remain it the fibres to make wearing it hazardous and it is wise to be aware that mercury was used in the process of gilding mirrors ,furniture and jewelry. I have come out in unpleasant welts when I wore a moleskin cape and was told it may well have been a reaction to  vestiges  of mercury used to cure the moleskin.

there are other less well known problems such as lead ,this is likely to be present in old paint /varnish on vintage furniture or woodwork ,while hair ornaments may contain it  in quantities unlikely to harm adults it would be wise to keep vintage hair ornaments ,jewelry ,vanity sets etc away from toddlers who might be tempted to put them in their mouths..

It is also unwise to use Victorian cages for keeping pet birds  .

Its is easy to identify old lead painted items as the paint forms a distinctive “alligator ” effect  often mimicked (minus the lead) in distressed furniture .


There is also  the ethical issue of the hidden  human cost associated with the creation of vintage clothing ,the factory conditions which may mean that a child was maimed or killed producing the very cloth your  victorian gown is made from  or the curtains your hanging,Most certainly any hat wil have been produced at the expense of the hat makers health and of course Victorian and Edwardian hats frequently contain preserved birds ,,or beetles a trend that contributed to the destruction of many species of colourful birds and beetles and the destruction of eco systems .I personally do not have problems with vintage clothing on moral grounds for the same reason I dont have issues with vintage furs any harm was done in the past and not to use items  already created is wasteful though buying and funding any modern industrys run on Victorian lines is obviously morally untenable.

It should be remembered that there are however restrictions on the buying and selling of certain items

image source http://barbaraanneshaircombblog.com/2009/10/11/some-lovely-things-on-ebay-15/

The sale of   ivory is of course strictly controlled,its possible to sell vintage ivory items such as combs or fans but its essential to be able to prove the item was made prior to the ban and purchased legally .

Finaly when considering wearing period costume it is wise to consider the health risks ,if you will be wearing corsets regularly for  long term work as a re enactor etc I would suggest it is unwise to buy steel boned ones and that more flexible plastic boned ones would be more sensible as these are less restrictive but will still give the basic shape needed, all be it without the perfectly accurate rigidity.It is also wise to buy the best quality hoops possible at least cotton and if possible have thicker fabric ones made ,I know  that the USA has  reports of experiments to establish the safety of hoops and news reports of cases  where a hoop  petticoat  caught fire causing serious burns.I have perosnaly heard of one case in the past few months of a re enactors being bruned from a hoop that caught light.

I hope this post will not have deterred buyers and re enactors  but proved interesting and useful.

Extended treatment of victorian experiments and cases can be found here


This post is based on resreach done for my talk

Arsenic and Old Lace ,or fashion to die for ,the story of victorian costume

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Katherine Howard ,a Tudor mystery

.I  have more or less finished a Catherine Howard outfit so I thought it would be nice to explore both Catherine’s life and character as well as the controversy surrounding alleged portraits of her .I also discovered  a portrait that I had never seen before and which I dont think has entered the possible portraits list before and would love feedback on the image  (I mention it halfway done the page )

First the portraits

I have had problems with a “look “for  Katherine Howard as there’s no reliable image of her that all historians agree on.I opted for a hybrid of two possible  images.

This miniature which I am not entirely convinced by ,as though it’s definitely a queen that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be Catherine


and this sketch


The dress in the sketch seems to have straight sleeves but there’s a very similar portrait which has recently emerged and is claimed to be Catherine /Katherine Howard.

kath howard

There are so many similar portraits to both this and the sketch  that I feel the dismissal of this  longer full size portrait of a woman as that of  Catherine may be premature

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

This gown shows a similar dress with an identical hood even to the chin strap which is very rare in french hood representations .It also shows a woman of similar looks to all the other portraits and the sketch.

There is in addition a  19thc miniature in the royal collections  labelled as Mary Tudor (Henry’s sister ) that looks very like these paintings right down to the hood and jewellery while the lady seems to look much younger and more Catherine’s age which was either late  or mid teens .This miniature doesn’t show sleeves but does have a similar  outfit to the Holbein sketch ,Its supposed to be copied from the Ohio portrait yet doesn’t have the same face .I wondered if it had used a lost sketch of Katherine as its original image source

mary kat miniture

To me it seems unlikely that so many discredited portraits  of  supposedly different women should all look similar ,most have been considered to be Catherine at one time or another.It seems to me more likely that they show a woman who  at the very least looked and dressed like Catherine and where therefore rightly or  wrongly  claimed as portraits of her.The only exception is the miniature above which I don’t think anyone else has mentioned.

The main objection to the images being Catherine is that the lady looks too old,looks ugly  and is dressed as a widow.We do know however Catherine owned at least one black velvet gown which must have been a favourite as she wore it to travel from Sion house during her imprisonment which had been rapid enough for her ladies not to have been able to take any great pains over choosing her wardrobe .As to the looking old ,I don’t think that we can firmly judge  age from Renaissance potraits.No one knows exactly how old Catherine was as she was not important enough to have her birth recorded though she was certainly very young  but  Tudor portraits tend to age sitters consider the teenage Duchess of Milan.


In addition if you are painting the queen it makes sense to instil the image with dignity and a more formal older looking queen may well be the result.Catherine was also described as imperious and wilful by one ambassador so the haughtiness in the portraits may show that side of Catherine

As to looking ugly ,I don’t think the lady in question looks ugly and if she does seem ugly to us she may not have seemed so to Henry ,Some described her beauty as moderate or middling  then she was also considered attractive ,graceful and  delightful so it would appear that she was attractive from temperament rather than purely beautiful.Her  demeanour and face  were described as gentle and earnest  ,which to me seems to fit the little miniature perfectly,In addition Henry seems to have had unorthodox tastes in female beauty Jane Seymour was not exactly beautiful


.It should also be remembered that the portraits show women unsmiling and full face,the passport photo look and most people don’t look that good on passport photos!

The only portrait I am not convinced  of  is the little  Tudor miniature  now considered the only painted portrait of Katherine .Its different to every other possible  portrait of Katherine ,In fact the person in the portrait  looks so similar to the Ann of cleaves portrait that captivated Henry that I would suggest they were the same person .The attribution of the portrait as Catherine Howard is based on the woman wearing the royal jewels as seen in other portraits of Henry’s wives yet not looking like any of them.If however you discard the idea that Ann of cleaves permanently wore the clothes seen below (which is incorrect  she adopted English fashions a few months  after her arrival)Then I think it very possible its Ann.She seems to have a similar build and bearing

anne c


As Annes reign was even briefer than Katherines it would make sense there was only this miniature ,which may have been considered to forerunner of a more regal full length portrait .I think a full length portrait of Anne must have been expected by those  who assumed she was their long term Queen  and those not “in the know”vastly outnumber the few who knew Henry was planning on her removal .

Katherine s Personality

Finally a quick did you know section on Katherine Howard .She is always seen as the thick “Tudor bimbo,”a   air headed trophy wife  for an old rich man .Shes also seen as something of a loose woman,she certainly had premarital “affairs but these where when she was extremely young ,,maybe as young at 12/13 when her music teacher seems to have persuaded her to let him  take  sexual liberties ,,in this modern age she would probably have been considered a victim in this particular relationship .The second when she was certainly no older than 15/16,was one  she felt at the time had involved a form of marriage,Derehem and Catherine called themselves husband and wife when with each other and in front of close friends ,she was given his money to look after and they had slept together .Catherine could have produced witnesses to their vows to marry and  for the consummation for the marriage  ,this in the days before church marriages where the norm this would have been enough in law to make them husband and wife in any unbiased church court .Despite accusations she never tried to keep this relationship secret until she became queen and may well have thought Henry  knew of it when he initially showed interest in her.

She certainly did have some kind of  affair  after she married Henry unfortunately she choose the disreputable Thomas Culpepper as the object of her affections

Shes often considered to have been something of a spoilt brat and no doubt this was a side of her character ,Henry showered her with gifts of silks ,furs jewels and even estates,For someone who grew up having to share a room  with half a dozen other girls and who had very few personal possessions to suddenly have jewel chests full of pearls and gold and gemstones and dozens up on dozens of gowns must have been like a teenagers dream come true ,added to which instead of being bossed around by everyone and looked down on as a poor relation now everyone ran around for her and had to do as she told them.This would be more than enough to make a teenager a bit stroppy .

She was  certainly described by an ambassador as imperious  and wilful ,of modest beauty ,but delightful

There is also a hidden side to Catherine ,she does not appear ,like Henry’s  other wives to have tried to bribe Henry  into marriage by withholding her sexual favours as there were rumours she was pregnant well before their actual marriage so its possible she would have been happy to remain a mistress,She had at this time met Thomas Culpepper who she seems to have been genuinely fond of having fallen out with Dereham to begin a serious relationship with Culpepper .If the king had not suddenly noticed Katherine she would probably have married Culpepper .As it was she married Henry but later resumed  her relationship with Culpepper.During her time as Henry’s wife she does seem to have taken a great deal of time in trying to amuse Henry and keep him cheerful and looked after him with affection.The rekindling of her (possibly  adulterous )affair with Culpepper  dated from the  time when she was exiled from Henry’s presence for several weeks because Henry was ill with a presumed infectious disease.Bored she obviously make bad mistakes .Cupepper may well have been using Catherine to gain power and possibly even greater power as a joint regent as Henry’s health was declining and there were regular rumours that  Catherine  was pregnant.Only Prince Edward would stand between Culpepper and the regency and children died with depressing regularity in Tudor England  ,,being the lover of a possible future queen regent  who was also young ,pretty and infatuated with him was  no doubt a pleasant prospect.Despite the assumed evidence against Katherine confirming her physical adultery ,theres is a chance that this was assumption based on indiscreet exchange of affections,,getting Katherine pregnant with a bastard child wouldn’t serve Culpeppers purposes and  Katherine with the spectre of her cousin Ann before her might have thought twice about actual adultery .

(Culpeper was not a pleasant character,he had raped a peasant woman  getting friends to hold her down ,he had murdered some one else who tried to help her ,.The king knew and pardoned him so he may well have felt above the law.)


Its true she couldn’t read or write particularly well but she could do both which considering that no great pains were taken over her education does show some intelligence .Dereham  her first actual lover trusted her with his savings  of one hundred pounds a huge amount by Tudor standards when he went on a journey when she was still a young teenager so she must have been fairly competent and trustworthy.She was also extremely kind to both Henry’s  daughters  especially Elizabeth who was something of an outcast as both bastard and daughter of a disgraced and hated past wife ,Catherine called her kinswoman ,which was brave  as they were indeed kin ,,Ann Boleyn and Catherine where cousins.

She also seems to have been quite free of  resentment , there is an amusing incident after Catherine becomes queen ,the past discarded Queen Ann of Cleves visited court where Catherine received her so pleasantly the two women spent the night dancing together while Henry went to bed early .

Catherine was instrumental in having several prisoners pardoned and when she  learned an old lady ,the countess of Salisbury had been imprisoned in the  tower for many years she sent warm clothing and a warm hat  . She  had never met the old lady and she could have been in a great deal of trouble if Henry had been informed when he was in one of his less pleasant moods as The countess was imprison ostensibly as a traitor but by far the more likely reason was to punish her absent Son Cardinal Pole and to remove one of the very few remaining Plantagents  .Catherine loved expensive cloths ,furs and jewels but she was generous to her ladies in waiting and a fairly easy going mistress .She was vivacious and loved dancing but she does not appear to have been entirely vacant headed.Sadly we have almost nothing of Catherine ,she did not have any children who might have wished to preserve  her memory ,she does nor seem to have had tutors or governesses , she had no close relations ,no  rich influential friends  who cared enough about her to keep her possessions or writings or portrait.Its probable she never had her portrait painted until she caught the kings eye .

her only remaining legacy is an openly affectionate  letter to her lover Thomas Culpeper

Letter to Thomas Culpepper

Master Culpeper, I heartily recommend me unto you, praying you to send me word how that you do. It was showed me that you was sick, the which thing troubled me very much till such time that I hear from you praying you to send me word how that you do, for I never longed so much for a thing as I do to see you and to speak with you, the which I trust shall be shortly now. The which doth comfortly me very much when I think of it, and when I think again that you shall depart from me again it makes my heart to die to think what fortune I have that I cannot be always in your company. …you have promised me to be so good unto that poor fellow my man which is one of the griefs that I do feel to depart from him for then I do know no one that I dare trust to send to you, and therefore I pray you take him to be with you that I may sometime hear from you one thing. I pray you to give me a horse for my man for I had much ado to get one and therefore pray send me one by him and in so doing I am as I said afor, and thus I take my leave of you, trusting to see you shortly again and I would you was with me now that you might see what pain I take in writing to you. Yours as long as life endures,

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An answer to the message signed in Blood.


I have posted in the past on the atrocities being committed by fundamentalist Islamic groups ,in particular those usually abbreviated to and best known as ISIS/ISIL ,This is my last ,an answer to ISIS and a plea to the world,to Muslims ,to ISIS and to  my Christian brethren and  its especially addressed to those who are responsible for the atrocities ,unlike the cowards in videos  who send messages masked and sign them with the blood of their victims I am putting my face to this message and signing it with my name.

I am Lynn Marie Cunliffe ,I am a Christian and I stand with my brethren around the world ,I ask the world takes notice of the cries of the Christians being massacred around the world ,that it supports those Christians now refugees,that it welcomes to its countries those lucky enough to have escaped and is proactive is rescuing those in danger.

But to those supporting ,approving or committing these atrocities I say you are being misled, when you murder my Christian brethren you have not won ,you have lost ,you will always loose because for us death is not the end ,because we have our own message signed in blood ,the blood of Jesus Christ shed for all .Its an enduring message never to be overwritten or blotted out and one which Christians have though the ages gladly signed with their blood .

To all members of Isis and other groups, I say that there is a true message in blood which is written by Jesus with love for you ,you can know peace and freedom and have the certainty of heaven ,that whatever you have done it is not too late ,that whatever you are being asked to do  you don’t need to do ,that it won’t earn you heaven ,that on the contrary you will face Allah  ashamed of what you have done ,that your teachers are misleading you ,you are being betrayed and used .

I say that just  as there are Muslims who say things that are not according to the teaching of Allah ,there are Christians who are not speaking for all the Christians ,or for our God ,your God.No true Christian wants the death of one single one of you, for love of our brethren we are angered by your acts ,but what we truely want and pray is to welcome you as our brothers and sisters in Christ.Whatever you have done you still have a chance to turn and become what you are meant to be ,a human being blessed by knowing the love of God ,able to create with acts of gentleness and love a world worthy of all our children and leave behind a legacy which you will not be ashamed to own before Allah.

We have a great Christian Saint who was  just like you, the bible writes about him in Acts and you can look him up on the Internet ,he was called first Saul and then Paul,he murdered Christians ,hunting out men and women and dragging them out  be killed and imprisoned because he felt by doing that he was serving God ,but one day God spoke to him and he listened and had the courage to change ,he is one of our greatest Christian writers ,he gave his life for his faith and he is one of our most loved and respected saints ,people reading his letters in the bible have achieved great things ,he left a lasting legacy .

To all those sites showing the videos of Christians being murdered and using it to promote hatred towards Muslims,you are wrong ,no evil can be cured by promoting more evil ,hatred can never be the answer to hatred ,the ones to be pitied in those videos ,the real victims are the killers ,the Christians are not mere victims ,they died victors because they died for what they believed in a message of peace and love and acceptance and those who are outraged by their deaths should promote that same answer to violence .

To my Christian brothers and sisters I ask with all my heart that you do not allow the images of evil to turn your hearts against those committing them or those innocent Muslims who abhor them as much as you .I would put before you the example of St Paul and the response of the early church to persecution .God has welcomed to himself the souls of the martyrs but he also loves those who have murdered them and wants to have them turn and repent .When we allow ourselves to harbour towards them hatred or propagate hatred then evil has won.

To all those who watch news reports and then turn away ,I say this is a new holocaust ,Christians ,Jews ,other Muslims ,gays ,those who have views opposed to Isis are being massacred now this minute.In the time you have taken to read this post one Christian has been murdered.In the 1940s if video of the holocaust ,of the massacres ,mass graves and death camps had been seen then people say things would have been different,that the world didnt act because the world didn’t know,maybe that’s the case .But today now you do know .One day this video and others will be discussed as part of documentarys or school syllabus .One day you will be asked by your children and by a new generation what you did to help.Will you be shown to be one of those righteous Gentiles ,those heroes of the war who worked to save Jews or who acted as voices crying in the wilderness to educate the free world about the horrors ,those who we now respect ,or will you be unable to answer the question ,what did you do? And the even more damming  have no answer to the question why did you do nothing ?

I write this my message ,which I alone am responsible for,not my community or church ,I don’t attend a church and certainly not my friends ,neighbours or family .It is a message which I am willing to sign with my name and face.

Lynn Marie Cunliffe


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What price the treasures of the past,,a warning from history


A very short post that’s more questions than answers.

ISIS  has embarked on a crusade ( I use the word fully cognisant of its negative connotations )against the heritage of the countries in which is it ascendant ,it’s busily destroying the priceless heritage of  conquered people’s ,a heritage that belongs for all time to all humanity and that has been in many cases treasured and in every case has survived for millennia .The lack of publicity for these events and the lack of concern for its threats to other sites is appalling because it is a warning to Europe that Isis is now at its gates

The destruction of these sites has huge implications ,is not just the defacing of priceless statues but the total destruction of sites such as Nimrod


It has  first defaced


Then blown apart


and destroyed utterly any remaining fragments leaving deserts of rubble


Destorying not just the surviving sites but  also any unexcavated remains,perhaps another Rosetta Stone ,more library’s of cuneiform tablets ,more priceless pieces of jewellery or pottery that could establish trade routes ,,all lost to us and our children and childrens children .Does one generation have a right to rob those yet born of knowledge and beauty and heritage?.If not what is the correct way to defend that heritage ? Does it justify an armed response should economic sanctions be used ,should we at the cost to ourselves of increased oil prices boycott such countries,should we create more punitive laws for those trading in stolen artifacts.ISIS and  other groups have made Millons from this illicit trade in antiquities and therefore those convicted of trading ought to be dealt with under terrorism laws,looted antiquities should be seen in the same light as blood or confict Diamonds as the funds gained are put to exactly the same use.

While so far the sites and artifacts destroyed have a significance only recognised by  the citizens of th countries concerned and the academic community ,what site will need to be destroyed before we take action ,what is one step too far,,

ISIS is gaining power and land across the Middle East and is now not far from the borders of Europe.Israel and states with borders on countries under their control such as Jordan

What if it destroys ,Petra


Jordan now has Isis on its borders ,it controls territory along huge lengths of Jordan’s border ,it’s under a hundred  miles away ,Isis has marked Jordan out as one of its next targets  especially as Jordan has thousands of refugees from Isis controlled countries and  It must control tiny Jordan in order to get to and destroy its primary target Israel .even without controlling Jordan it already has Petra on its destruction list and is close enough to launch a terrorist attack .

Isis is on the borders of Turkey and has some support in the country from well organised terrosist factions that have already launched audacious attacks on Christian villages and border sites.Turkey the gateway to Europe is in very real danger from within and without and like polands peril  in the 1930 the countries of Euroe and the government of the USA are doing nothing to help it .

Even Egypt is falling  under its influence and has enough fundamentalist factions to see Terrorist attacks on major sites ,people have now forgotten massacres such as that of  Luxor InThe temple of Hatusept ,where over 60 tourist were killed ,this is an obvious enough target  for further attacks being not only a site with offensive imagery but also one built by a powerful female pharaoh ,,while it has also stated its intention to destroy the pyramids,Eygpts heritage is in peril .

In the rest of Europe we should be clear priceless sites are at risk and protect them with increased security ,the great Mezquita of Córdoba is an obviously example as a Christian church which is housed in a famous and important mosque ,,while in the Uk  and elsewhere museums housing treasures from now destroyed sites should be a priority for governments protection and police and funds made available to implement more tight security measures.

we should also pay attention to the threaten sites locations ,as its true.y a warning from history ,that Isis can make credible threats to sites of historical interest shows it has confidence that it can successfully gain land and ventualy control in those countries ,it’s advances has been fast and it’s progress inexorable ,we need to be aware that the freedom of free nations  is in danger not just in the middle and Far East but in Europe.

But for the the present ,,what do we choose to protect what site is one too many and what do we do ,,does the destruction of any place or object justify the shedding of human blood?

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

red specner breeze

How to make a Regency Spencer 

There are two options for making a Spencer Jacket, for most jackets the easiest ,quickest and most effective is to find a suitable full length modern jacket and cut it down ,both the one above and those below are cropped modern jackets.

mrs bronte parsonage sign



jane Austen festival


Mrs Bronte moor

reg dress

I have worn an assortment of these cut down and retailored Jackets and no one has ever guessed they were not specially made Spencers,yet the need so special skills and take well under an hour to make .The most important thing is to find a suitable jacket.(I will give details on choosing a jacket at the base of the instructions)

You simply find your jacket

black jacket 1


And cut off the bottom leaving enough length to make a turned over hem

spencer guide 2

Before cutting check the waistline of the gown or gowns your most likely to be wearing it with and make sure the jacket sits at or just below it .Cut to about 2 inches below a fastening ,button etc .

Now just turn over the cut edges and you have a Spencer.

If your lucky and theres enough spare fabric you can turn the chopped off bits into Regency bags or reticules to make your jacket just sew along the already cut edges .

spencer guide and bags


spencer side

You may be lucky enough to have a jacket that has some interesting detailing that makes the bags look ok without trim but if not a small amount of curtain or upholstery fringe makes most bags look authentic.

To finish your bag  add a strip of velcro acorss the top of your bag and a piece of crod for a handle or use an old necklace or length of beaded trim etc.

Jacket choices

You can make Spencers from jackets made from any fabrics but the most authentic looking ones are velvet and mat silk ,shiny fabrics such as satin should be avoided as should patterned fabrics.Plain wool works but not tweed ,I have made a very pretty pair of corded velvet ones but theres are not really authentic.

Chose one which is tailored and shaped to fit snuggly at the bust and just below it.Miliatary style jackets look good and are a authentic Regency style but most smart or evenign jackets work ,,dotn be tempted to use an already cropped shrug style jacket as most of these wont sit properly

The jacket should also have a slightly puffed sleeve or at least have some gathers were the sleeve is attached to the bodice ,straight sleeves will work but dont sit as comfortably over puffed sleeved dresses.


To make a much more elaborate Evening Spencer

gold spencer gal

If you want to make a more complex Spencer for evening wear its still possible to make one fairly quickly.

I will add  more photos to the  guide shortly .

You will need the fabric of your choice ,,at least a metre ,more if your making a long sleeved one .

A boned bodice ,clubbing or prom top any length but with a neckline the shape you want your spencer to be .You also need to decide if your going to have a closed front Spencer or one that fastens with a band leaving a front gap

some kind of fastener ,velco,hooks and eyes or  ties ,

As with the jacket you need to cut the bodice off at the length you need our Spencer to be.

spencer 1

Then cover this cropped off bodice with your fabric starting with  the centre back  panel

spencer guide 2


Turn the fabric over at the edges ,ie the neck the bottom and arm holes,it might turn over easier if you make small snips to it at intervals

spencer neck13


You then just carry on recovering  the bodice working outwards from both sides of the first panel

spencer 12

,when you reach the front edge turn over a generous amount of the fabric and stitch,This gives you a little waistcoat looking jacket

spncer body done


When its completely covered  you need to make sleeves you can just add puffed sleeves by cutting a long rectangle or fabric then gathering it to a width that fits in the arm hole and at the bottom to a width that fits your upper arm .Just tack this sleeve into the bodice.

Or you can make more elaborate sleeves

spencer sleeve finished

This is also quite easy ,you do  this by cutting long strips of your  fabric to the length required which should be just below or at the length of your gowns cuffs  .

spencer sleeve panels 21


Now cut two strips long enough to go around your upper arm where the spencer sleeves will end these will be your cuffs

stitch all these strips to your sleeve holes and then to a narrow longer strip which is your cuff .

spencer slseves fin

Add another strip across the front if you are  making that style of spencer then sew velcro to the end of the strip and inside the bodice  or add ties or hook and eyes

gold spencer gal

You can add more decoration or even add a long skirt part by cutting a length of fabric to the length required then  making it into pleats and stitching them to the base of the bodice.


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An easy guide to making your own victorian accessories part one,Muffs, capes and other things

Making almost all Victorian accessories is quite easy  and usualy very cheap and those which cant be made are usually easy to buy of ebay or from fancy dress shops.

Before I show how to make mittens ,capes ,cloaks ,collars chemisettes bags and parasols Its probably handy to see what you can buy without sewing anything  and where to buy the items such as fans and gloves you cant make ,its possible to buy fans offline very cheaply and plain ones will look authentic.

Shawls and capes

Picture 1114

Shawls are also very easy to find plain or paisley  look best

bronte gown back edit

webshot purple victorian dress SHAWL

Though I will show how to make one very quickly  also often possible to find faux fur or fur capes

blue cloak

nicki and harry

.Long elbow length gloves can usually also be bought cheaply offline

dark green gown

as can parasols ,some are lace  but theres also often fabric or paper ones

blue skirt


nicely tailored victorian style jackets can sometimes be found

victorian mourning outfit

Plain leather gloves are usually ok for Victorian events and sometimes its possible to find vintage muffs

blue dress

To make a muff

This is the easiest accessory to make .If your very lucky you may find a faux fur or fur coat  or jacket ,in which case just cut off a long length of sleeve tuck part of it inside until it makes the size of muff you want .The effect is the same as when you pull  your sleeve out of a coat but it gets stuck and pulls partly  inside out as you take it off .When its the right length you can tack it in place ,this makes a fully fur lined fur muff .Add a piece of ribbon or curtain cord tied inside in a loop for something to hang it around your neck with, or a very much shorter length to use as a hand strap.

If the sleeves are too short you will still have enough length for a muff but you will need to use the sleeve lining.A velvet ,silk or wool jacket or coat sleeves  will also work  to make muff in the same manner ,though it wont be as  warm.

You can also make a quick muff by using a 1940s fur stole such as these

40s-shot gloves

While cutting up a perfect 1940s fox fur is a little bit too wasteful may of these foxes have missing eyes,paws tails etc and can be bought cheaply to make muffs ,merely wrap them around themselves and tack in place .you could do the same with a fur wrap or cape

haworth 1940s 3

If the fake fur is a bit unremarkable or your using a silk ,satin ,velvet or wool jacket you can make a very fancy muff

pale pink muff

you could make a very fancy muff using beaded fabrics sleeves  from evening gowns or tops

black beaded eco muff

or gold trim your fur muff

gold muff detailing

To make a muff from scratch is also easy its just a bolong peice of fabric striched along its edge then add some fur along its edges  it works best of you use rich fabrics such as velvet or damask

tudor muff


jaand me

You will need

A  very full skirt  bought from a charity or thrift shop ,preferably one with interesting detailing .Any length but short

a fur collar or other collar ,velvet  silk ,satin ,this can be cut from a blouse cardigan or a vintage collar bought ,many modern cardigans have removable fur collars.

a very small length of ribbon ,velvet works best but any will do

How to make your cheap and quick cape

The easiest way to make a cape is to find a very full skirt  or full skirted dress thats made from something suitable ,velvet is ideal ,satin can also be used as could wool .A line skirts wont work but very full flared skirts will if you cant find anything else ,gathered skirts work best. If your lucky you make find a very long skirt to make a cloak length cape.The skirt should be lined but an unlined skirt works well but wont be as warm.(You can use shorter narrower  skirts even mini skirts  but theres slightly  more work ,I will cover it at the end of the post)

Step one

You simply cut the skirt down the back edge where the zip is .Turn the edges over and stitch them down  now just gathered the skirts neckline until it fits flush against your neck .The cape below was an very elaborately embroidered skirt which can from a charity shop. I cut as above and made into a cape this way ,it took around half an hour and cost approx £5


Step two

,cover  the neckline  gathers with a piece of fake fur ,feathers or ideally a vintage or modern  fur collar .

Step three

sew on ribbons  to use for the ties

sweet love of youth

To make a cape using a short or narrow skirt

wgw red gown

cut off the waist band ,hem both edges as before and gather slightly at the neck but this time put the skirt on your shoulders and tuck it at each should until it sits flush as below ,sew these “darts” so the cape sits  flush against your shoulders,add the fur collar and add ribbons as before


 The duvet cover evening cloak

The cloak below was made with a satin duvet cover set


Firstly gather the duvet to suitable width for your neck using a running stitch.then fold the pillowcase along its width stitch a little bit of the folded edge together to give a slightly folded hood shaped bit ,gather the pillowcase as you did the duvet cover  then stitch the pillowcase to the duvet cover and add ties The cloak is already hemmed and lined .I add some fur trim cut from an old coat and made a matching muff with it

sil cloak

You can make cloaks from damask duvet set or a pair of curtains ,gathered again at the neck

pink cloak gowns


You can also use a  pair of heavier curtains for a winter cloak ,again,gathered again at the neck but first cut a long length off cut this length to a suitable size for a hood ,fold along its longest edge and stitch together




I have not yet tried it but I am fairly sure it would be possible to make a good cloak using a throw just gathered at the neck then trimmed with a fur collar as the cloaks  below look like throws before they are gathered and have their shoulders shaped.

for pam edite



Its possible to make mantles fairly easily but as they take more tailoring I will leave those until I have a suitable piece of fabric

green coat

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Cheats guide ,a beginners, guide to making a Victorian Hat


This will be a post on how to make the small little late Victorian hats .

hats fp

These are very easy and cheap to make as they are quite small

1869 maj - Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, dam hattar


and usually heavily decorated or decorated with very eye catching trims

hats again

you will need

a ceral box ,or some cardboard of the same thickness


cellotape or parcel tape

needle and cotton

A small piece of fabric ,velvet ,silk ,taffeta cotton  wool are all suitable

some scraps of ribbon,lace  or other trims such as  feather trim faux flowers or ribbon bows or rosettes

a headband ,the cheap three for a pound kind are fine and preferable as the band needs to be quite narrow.

Ideally Also

Some net ,tulle or veiling this will make the hat tool a lot better but it isn’t essential

some pleated ribbon,

The more interesting the odds and ends you can find to decorate the hats the more authentic they are likely to look.


pink hat

Before I begin I thought it worth mentioning another alternative ,its possible to buy the cheap sun hats  made for children and sold especially around Easter and make excellent little Victorian (and Georgian) style hats by adding lots of trims and veiling especially flowers and feathers,you can sew the front or back brim up or both to create a Tricorn



These look very authentic once on your head




harry candid shot

me john


marieant 014

pink c d skitt



pink hats

To make a little tilt hat from cardboard

find some cardboard ,an old cereal box is perfect

ready brek box scissors

cut out the sides and leave two oblongs from the front and back of the box

ready box cut

Check the ovals approximately the right size and shape ,longer towards the back is good if you want to curve the back to give height ,smaller narrower ones work if its going to be ontop of a complex hairstyle ,now cut out the second of the ovals.

hat guide to

Tape together and check again its the right size (see Above) then fully cover in tape

hat guide base

Place the ovals on top of  your chosen fabric,,the fabric your dress is made with is ideal ,I have used velvet here which works well as it has slight stretch ( I also made a hat with shot taffeta which I will show at the base of this post ,but I wanted to use the basic steps with the minimum of trims  for the making instructions,use a bigger piece than normal for your first hat in case you make any mistakes ,ordinarily you can use very small scarp pieces from gown fabric etc ,even use two contrasting pieces and cover the gaps on top with trim

velvet hat

gather or fold fabric underneath and sew ,underneath fabric together leaving to small gaps either side for a hair band to thread through  if the fabrics one with no stretch ,as this is velvet you can cut holes later

velvet hat covered back


ruche  the top fabric slightly to give a bit of depth,

hat ruched top

if you have enough spare fabric you can add more  height  by gathered more and more and stuff the gaps with tulle or fabric scraps the photo below shows this with the taffeta hat

hat filling


Now add  some trims ,feathers ,ribbons etc,

hast trims

these can be small scraps and dont need to be bought specially ,pieces from gifts ,chocolate box or flower ribbon ,flowers from Christmas decorations or bits of feathers from old hats or fascinators  or fancy hair bands,earrings etc they wont be seen up close so if they have slight damage this  isn’t a problem.

green hat feathers

you can use the ruched fabric to hide feathers, and as above step where you place the feathers  to give depth.You can use them flat against the hat they dont need to stick up and bend the cardboard as needed to give height at the back and curve the sides downwards,While the top must look good no one is likely to see it closely as its on your head so the sides ,back and underneath are as important especially the back as its likely to be highlighted by your hair style,I try to add a small faux veil to the back any transparent fabric ,net or even lace will work  any length but mid length is best.The “veil” below is from an old evening top

finishedl ical hat back


and add some veiling if possible for the front and top ,this is the part which most contributes to making the hat look authentic ,even small scraps sewn on top help

green fijihsed hast


thread hairband through the underneath and use thread to sew it securely on you can use this to give the underneath more curve  ,try to use a hair band you hair colour or close to it.check how the hat looks from the front back and sides one at head height.The hat may not look very interesting  unworn but once its on it will look great.Many extant Victorian hats in this style also look uninspiring when off .you can make more complicated hats by adding layering which is what the Victorian hats looked like

Heres the steps to decorating the  more complicated hat below  with more trimmings.

finished hat lilac

Work on creating more height  either with extra netting or you can ruche top to a greater height and more complicated gathers then add  some pleated trim around the front but not all the way around to avoid the doily look ,cover any outer edge gap with something else eg feathers

hat side feathers

add feathers stepped some at the back some at the sides and facing different ways,you can cover the feathers ends with the fabric  as below then stitch it so the fabrics ruched over it

hats and feather

,you could also add a few different shades of feather if you have them. to Increase your feathers without buying more  cut longer feathers

cut feathers

and use the end bits laid flat on the hat


hat top

Add some flowers fruit etc add a few together if possible rather than single ones ,more was often the best as far as the Victorian were concerned

decoated top hat


Add any other spare bits of trim ,scraps of veiling ribbon etc add a back veil and front veiling tilt to your preferred shape, make sure each side is interesting in its own right

finished hat lilac


Especially the back

finishedl ical hat back

Individual items wont be noticed but the overall effect will while hats look ok without adding front  veiling will make them look much better


finished lical hat frotn


I hope this has been helpful,while I usually make oval hats with the ends of the oval pointing towards your face you can make them so the long ends go ear to ear and also try assorted shapes .

It may be a week or so but I will finish my hat post with a guide on how to make Victorian  ladies top hat  and other felt styles .For these you need some charity /thrift shop hats  which you cut up the back and close in slightly to make smaller then twist into assorted shapes .Unfortunately I dont currently have any so I wont be able to add instructions until I find some but here are  the shapes you can create some use hats without wired brims some need wired brims .

blue cloak





bustle red

black dress side train

blue dress wycoller car park




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cheats guide ,costuming made easy , Tudor head dresses ,how to make an easy and accurate French hood


I will have three of these posts on Tudor Head dresses covering all the head dresses  and a short post on how to make caps and coifs.

This post will be on how to make assorted styles of French hood.


which is a fairly easy head dress to make ,it doesn’t really need any sewing skills and  can be made very cheaply.The one below cost less than £5 for the materials

bolyen hood

They will usually take around two to three hours to make a simple one like the one above  ,less time if you use a piece of veiling at the back rather than authentic taffeta

french hood 1

First however in case you prefer other styles I will give a quick run down of the other styles and links to my blog posts on how to make them

Head dresses 1  (A quite hard project)

The Gable hood.


This is by far the hardest head dress to make and even harder if its made the usual way with wire buckram etc,My cheats guide used cardboard and makes a comfortable wearable accurate hood.


Your may have to buy fabric and will probably have to buy trims for this hood so you will need access to a fabric shop or on line site

gable hood gold

They can be made for around £10 and look authentic,but will probably take  at least a couple of  afternoons or evenings to make

gable hood front

Headresses 2 ( A  very easy  project) 

The English intermediate or transitional  hood 


This is very easy and also quite cheap to make ,if your making one with fabric to match your gown and if you have a small piece of white cotton or linen or an old pillow case it will quite literally cost nothing  and should take around an hour to  two hours to make .These are my favourite head dresses very comfortable and suitable  for everyone even if you have short hair.

green tudor gown front

I will be adding the cheats guide to making an English hood shortly

The French hood guide

You will need….


(Ideally fairly large sharp ones ,kitchen scissors ,you can use smaller sized scissors but rounded ended scissors or nail scissors wont work (you can make an intermediate hood  like the one above without larger scissors )

Cellotape or parcel tape

A long  pearl or gold beaded necklace or even better two necklaces,other broken jewellery etc ,this if for the trim.You can use all one type of trim,this hood used a primark long pearl necklace

bolyen hood

Or if you dont have enough of one kind of trim or a long enough necklace you could use two different things maybe some braid that’s usually used on upholstery

trims hood

,if your buying trim buy two metres  of pearls for both edges or one metre of pearls and one metre of trim for the top .I use pieces of leftover trims which have been bought for gowns  necklines as I  sometimes like to match the hood and gown trims.

You will also need

A small piece of fabric  for the hood itself ,(you dont necessarily need to buy this  you will probably have something to hand),velvet is the easiest to work with as its slightly stretchy but damask also works well  or brocade ,Taffeta is much harder as it tends to rip and silk is too thin and shows through any unevenness in the hoods under layers ,,,you could use an  evening blouse or top ,an old cushion ,scraps leftover from your  gown or  you could buy half a metre of velvet or other fabric ,sometimes charity shops have small pieces of fabric ,or cushions made  from suitable fabrics .You can also use your gown fabric which is what I usually use if I am making a gown with anything except taffeta or silk


In addition you will need

A piece of  black fabric ,silk ,taffeta ,satin ,velvet or velvet for the back veil



If you can find some a small piece of pleated trim or satin organza etc for the front.

red hood

,this isnt essential and can be left off without it necessarily being noticed, neither hood below has the frill


grreen tudor gown

To tie it on you will need

Two short pieces or around half a yard /metre of  narrow ribbon or tape ,,,,this doesn’t need to be anything special you could even cut some of the ribbon that’s sewn inside garments to they can be hung on hangers ,maybe  from a skirt or trousers.If your buying it especially grossgrain ribbons works well as does velvet as they fray less and are easier to tie and untie Again if your buying it try to buy some that’s a similar colour to your hair as this will be used to tie the hood on and goes under your hair at the back .

For the hood base you will need


A standard sized cereal box or similar sized box as long as its a similar stiffness to a cereal box,a thick cardboard box or corrugated cardboard wont work .It has to be big enough for a curved piece cut out from it to go around your head as the French hood base needs to be cut in one piece.In the UK a family sized cornflakes box ,or wheetabix box  is the ideal size.


Decide what shape  of  french hood you want ,they vary and theres styles to suit everyone.they are all made the same way ,,just the cardboard is cut different shapes.


The Tudor Tailor has excellent patterns for different styles of hood but to make with cardboard you just need a rough idea of shape.

Early Styles

These are the classic style seen in the portrait of Anne Boleyn  and other ladies of the Tudor court.They are a medium width that’s curved evenly and almost the  same width all the way around



bolyen hood

tudro gown

Slightly wider styles.

These are slightly wider at the top and go slightly narrower to the sides ,they are usually more elaborately trimmed .

eliz red dress



gold tudor gown close

Squarish  wide styles

mary tudor

english-school-duchess-of-norfolk-em red hood B1986.9

Very late narrow styles

These sit very far back on your head and are very narrow ,later styles dont go very far down at the sides and end above your ears,often they dont have veils or have floaty chiffon style veils

sieve potrsit french hod

mary queen of scots blk and gold

black gwn hd

At the base of this post I have included  a galllery of French hood images ,both potraits and modern hoods made by either myself or for TV and movies .I have also included a small section on more complicated styles with extra instructions for anyone who would like to try something different for their second hood


Most French hoods are red ,black ,white ,gold or a mixture of those colours ,I dont know of many portraits showing hoods in colours to match gowns so for complete authenticity its best to keep to these colours ,however if historical accuracy isn’t required its nice to have hoods to match your gown



I think there is one portrait with a hood matching the gown  but this could be the piant changing colour

claude_france blue hood

There is a gallery of French hood images at the very bottom of this post

Step one

Cut the sides off  your cardboard cereal box or if you are buying proper card cut this to size approx 12 ins min by 16 ins min


,cut two  squashed circular shapes from from each side of the box.

cardboard hood

.The cut  a small piece from inside this piece to make a crescent shape,try this first cut away crescent on your head.

hood 1

.Cut silvers off until its fits your head comfortable inside .then cut a little  more from outside the crescent until its the right shape for your head ,again do this one tiny sliver at a time so you dont make a mistake that cant be covered over.If you get the curve slightly uneven you can correct this when you add the trims as long as its not too much of a difference.

Cut the other piece out to match place them over each other and fix together with cellotape or parcel tape

hood 2

Now completly cover with cellotape,this will make it waterproof ,more flexible and help shape it

hood 3

when they are secured together ,use more tape to slightly angle the hood inwards ,to do this just slightly pull back on the tape as you wrap it around to make the hood base start to curve,Its hard to photograph on the plain hoods as they wont stay on the mannequin head but heres the effect on a more complicated hood

complex hood 1

,,it hard to explain but once your actually doing to its very easy .Again try it on a few times until the hood curves how you want it to around your face.Early hoods dont really need to curve that much later hoods need more curve

elizabeth princess red gown

Lay the hood base on the fabric ,which should be much bigger than  the hood if its for your first hood.

hood and fabric

,later you can use smaller pieces or scraps left over from gowns etc

hood fabrci 1

but its best to have extra spare to use while your getting used to making them.As with the cardboard cut a smaller  part circle out from the centre .This gives you the shape you need for covering the hood

wrap the fabric around the hood and tack a few pieces in place, at the top and both ends this is just very loosely so that you can start to trim off excess fabric .You can also check trims against the fabric before sewing them on

hood 5

Stitch the fabric onto the hood completely  slowly pulling it tight at the back  until the front has no wrinkles ,when its covered with fabric start to give shape to the hood by pulling the fabric tight top to bottom and then across the back ,again it sounds odd but is really easy when your actually doing it ,your trying to make the hood top slope very slightly back and the sides very slightly forwards .For early styles this only needs to be a tiny amount .For later sides where the hood curves around your ears slightly you will need to apply a little more force .Be careful not to bend the actual cardboard as that will never go right at this point.Dont worry about any messy bits at the back they wont be seen as a veil goes over the back

green tudor gown

When you have the shape you want add trims,start with the outer edge as this will be the most noticeable and if you run out of trim its better to do without the lower trim than have gaps in this top trim .start at one end and curve it slightly behind the hood to start  and stitch along the top  .

For the bottom trim do the same except for later styles leave a little of the trim at the edges to stick out slightly if your using trim this wont be too hard but for pearls or upholstry  braid you can get the stiffness by folding it back on itself

(Optional stage if you dont have any frilled or pleated fabric pieces skip to the next stage )

Add the frilled front piece ,this is optional ,authentic hoods usually have this but its possible the frill showing was actually a little cap under the hood so its not an essential step

hood frill

Make the veil

Cut a rectangle of fabric  big enough to go right across the hoops top and around the side .fold it over then stitch the edges almost to the top  and  sew all base together to make almost a bag .

veil hood

Add this to the hood ideally towards the top at the back but anywhere at the back will be fine .If you can put a slight gather or pleat at the top I find that makes the veil hang better if your going to have  a plait of hair under it.

reddresseated tudor gown

Add the ribbon ties ,put the hood on and work out where they need to be to keep the hood tied on comfortably and securely,usually just mid way behind your ears works well .

The hoods now ready to wear .If you have hair that’s long enough to make even small plaits ,plait your hair in two pigtails and fasten them over your head just further back than you will want your hood to rest ,this should stop the hood slipping off backwards.

More complicated styles



These have a lot more decoration but are no harder than other styles ,if you have access to trims and some time it might be interesting to make  one of these designs

kath howard

mary kat miniture

Lastly a more complicated style of hood

This is made from two sections and does take more variety of fabric and more trims ,slightly more skill and time.Its a very flattering style and if you want to stand out its a good choice for your later hoods


mary gown back

To make this hood

Make the top part exactly as before for the simple hoods.

To make the base part cut a strip of the cardboard, you can use the edges of a cornflake  box,use two pieces overlapped and taped together as before.

hood two complex

Now add the hood to this base and cellotape on at the top fairly firmly but leave the sides free as you will need to pull fabric under them to make the two parts look separate

complex hood part 3.

Stitch fabric over the base first ,velvet is ideal as it also tends to stop the hood slipping but you could use silk or wool.

Now cover the hood ,for both pieces there will be some at the centre  you cant turn over towards the back ,sew the join as neatly as possible ,,so it can be covered by trim

Add trimmings and sew ribbons to the back part of the base.

A gallery of French hoods





anne bolyen 1536 detail





white hood

margaret tudor french hood

duchess d etempes white hood

GB hood

black french hood

red hood


english-school-duchess-of-norfolk-em red hood

small hood

tudros hood

bol hood

MadameCanaplesClt1525 hood

mary hood

french hoods

mary tudor tudors

claude_france blue hood

other  easy to make Tudor clothing posts are here




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

jane Austen festival

I thought I would add a short post on how to make a Regency hat .The hat can also be made into a bonnet though I have only worn this as a  semi Tricorn hat.It will take around an hour or possibly  two to make depending on how much detail you add and cost around £10

jane suten hat m

The foundation of the bonnet /hat is one of these.Faux straw sun visors,They can  be bought very cheaply on line  from china and in an assortment of colours ,I use darker colours as they look more authentic .The hat above was made with a Khaki colour hat

brown hat

I have used a blue on for the hat made here

blue hat



You will need


needle and thread

around a metre of ribbon  or two shorter pieces,this is for ties for the hat so while a long piece would be ideal if you have bits of ribbon lying around and they will be long enough for ties that will work .

bonnet trims

a button,piece of fancy ribbon ,rossette or similar for the front of the turned up brim

a piece fabric around the size you would use for a cushion cover ,ideally in  taffeta ,silk or velvet but at a pinch you could use  dark cotton  if your making a tricorn as the fabric wont show much for that style.The perfect fabric is shot taffeta which is a fabric thats shimmery and fairly crsip

blue hat 2

ideally also

a piece of fancy ribbon ,extra wide ribbon ,embroidered trim or similar to make a band around the crown  or for making bows etc



ostrich feathers



Even assuming you buy fabric ribbon and a feather the hat should still cost around £10

First take your “hat and unravel it leave it for a few minutes or so ,I cut the straw bow off and throw it away as its quite big but you can leave it on .You could lay it next to your fabric to be sure it matches .

blue hat 1

To make your hat into a hat you need to make the top or crown ,which will be made using your fabric piece .Take the fabric and gather it up using a running stitch.

blue hat three

,leave a small amount ungathered so it will make it easier to stitch it one the brim

blue hat 4

Try the straw hat on and fasten it with the velcro ,make a note of  where on the velcro strip that hat will need to be for the best fit .Un  velcro and start to sew the gathered fabric onto the brim.Its easier to leave the hat undone so you can sew without it flopping about over your hands

blue hat 5

If you stitch it onto the outside of the brim it will leave the inside nice and neat but its not essential as the inside wont be seen


blue hat5

Sew the fabric on until you reach the last  un gathered part ,now velcro the hat together and add some stitches to keep it in place.if you push the fabric inside while your doing the sewing its much easier to see what your doing

blue hat 6

now turn it right side out

blue hat bonnet 1

You can leave the fabric loose but I usually gather it as it looks more authentic

gathered top blue bonnet

Next add a “hat band”,using a piece of of trim or ribbon for now just stitch it on across the top edge

blue bonnet 2

At this point you can make either a bonnet as seen above or a hat ,I havent ever used these wrap hats  as a bonnet so I am not sure how effective they are but if you buy a straw visor that works very well

Next add ribbon ties ,you can tuck these under the trim used for the band .Check that the ribbons are in the right place as this will affect how the hat looks because they are used to draw the hat over  your  face

blue hat sewing ribbon on

finish sewing the band down and see how it looks when tied under your chin

blue bonnet tricorn

sew the back part of the hat flush against the hat band and tack the front up the same way  cover the stitches with a bow or button or rossette

blue bonnet fin main

add feathers .

blue hat top fin

Unfortunately the mannequin head is tilted slightly so the hat wont sit properly on it but heres the finished hat

blue hat finished side

Heres how similar hats look when on with a full outfit

 regency gown


There is a guide on making an easy Regency gown here


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Cheats guide to making a Tudor or Early Elizabethan gown

purple gown 2

This is a quick cheats guide to making a Tudor gown.

First  it will make it easier to decide what style of gown you would like ,I have included a short gallery of the  more well known gowns and outfits.

eliz red dress

white band-Catherine_aragon



.It will also be easier to choose your dress if you understand how many extra layers you will need  to wear for the style of gown you choose so you may find it helpful  to check out the Tudor clothing layer page that goes with this cheats guide


The instructions given here are hopefuly clear but as most of the steps involved are identical to those for making Victorian gowns ,the Victorian gown guide may also be helpful


You will need no special tools or skills nor will you need access to a fabric store ,but this would be an advantage.

You will need

A boned top

A big pair of curtains

a necklace long enough to go around a square neckline

some cord or ribbon to lace the gown at the back

some cotton



something to poke holes in your fabric ,,a carpenters bradel  is ideal as is an awl but a meat  or kebab skewer will work if its thick enough



Your gown will look much better if you can also have access to somewhere to buy  trimmings such as strings of faux pearl ,this doesn’t need to be a furnishing  or dressmaking shop , good quality pearl  ,gold and jewelled trims  have now become fashionable for flower arranging and cakes  so you can find dress trims being sold in craft shops.I found this really good quality  dress trim being sold for decorating wedding cakes.

aqua sill coif

Also ideal would be somewhere to buy narrow cord to use for lacing your gown at the back in a colour matching your gown ,curtain cord is the usual choice .


Firstly you will need a top for your Tudor bodice base ,this can be a clubbing corset top ,evening top ,prom top ,wedding dress bodice ,it doesn’t matter what fabric it is ,the essentials are that its well boned ,ideally back fastening and roughly your size.If its a little bit too small you can  very easily add an extra panel when you recover it but this does add another stage to the process ,if its too big that’s an easier fix as you can just cut a little bit out of the back at either side before recovering it.For your first bodice its best to find one thats got straps ,ideally that’s square necked .Its also best if your bodice already has the waistline you need for your gown but if you cant find one with the correct waistline you can always modify the waistline by either cutting it straight at the front of by adding a piece of fabric to create a v shape.My favourite bodices are Wit and Wisdom as they are very well boned

wit and wisdom bodice


To choose the correct waistline  for your gown you need to decide what kind of gown you want ,early gowns had higher waists that went straight across


kat howard 4

Later gowns have pointed lower waistlines

eliz red dress

elizabeth coro dressweb

Next you will need skirt and gown fabric.If you dont want to pay much for the fabric then looking around charity shops will probably be the easiest way to find your gown fabric.Many beautiful Tudor fabrics  can be found there masquerading as curtains .Most Tudor gowns that are made from scratch  by skilled seamstresses for re enactors and for TV and movies use furnishing and soft furnishing fabrics so using curtains wont make your gown any less stunning.The gown below was made from a pair of deep red cotton damask curtains and the head dress was made using scraps left over

red cotton damask gown

elizabeth princess red gown

You  need a fabric which is not printed and ideally a plain colour velvet as this is the most fool proof fabric ,you wont have to worry about if the weave or design is authentic but its a very bad choice if you have any pets as it picks up hairs very easily.It does also have a pile which means that if you sew two pieces together and one is a different way up to the other there’s probably going to be shade difference.The gown below was red curtain velvet.

Picture 498

You can also use brocade or damask which is easier to work with .The patterns must be authentic looking anything with flowers woven in the design is not good .Look at Tudor portraits to get an idea of the designs you can use.


meltonconstableparr raised vlevlet

You  could use modern fabrics such as flocked taffeta which looks really good and is washable.


You are probably  best buying fairly low key colours of fabric ,Tudor and Elizabethan gowns were often in very bright colours and in colours we do not  now associate with Tudor costume such as blues and pinks but these are not colours people associate with Historical costume so I usually avoid them .Gold is a good choice either in a plain fabric as seen below

golden gown bingley gable hood

or in damask

gold tudor gown close

Another good choice is black either plain black or pattered black


black and purple sleeves

red plain

elizabeth princess red gown

or patterned

reddresseated tudor gown

or as a mix with gold


and green though this is best as a plain fabric

green tudor gown

Purple also looks great either as velvet as seen below

cliff castle door mary gown

or as taffeta


or damask

purple dresscoif

However purple is sometimes restricted at events to royalty only .

You will need the curtains to be long enough to make a skirt .Decide if you are making a simple closed fronted gown.

green tudor gown front

or an open fronted one


To see if the curtains will be long enough and wide enough hold them against you to check the length ,hold them from below their header tape as that fabric wont be usable .You need the fabric to be slightly trailing on the floor so you can have full skirts  and a lot longer if your going to have a gown with a long train (trained gowns need more work as you have to make a new hemline and hem it instead of using the curtains existing hem ).

Gather the curtains around your waist  in big folds to see if they will be wide enough for the gowns skirts  if your at all unsure then don’t  buy them .Narrower curtains can be still bought to make the petticoat which is the skirt that shows in front of open skirted Tudor gowns

purple tudor gown

And. for  the wide flowing sleeves seen on some gowns


Alternately you can buy some furnishing fabric the only fabrics really still available now to make Tudor clothing are furnishing fabrics as they are the correct designs and textures. Fabrics can unfortunately be very expensive ,from £10 per metre to buy  and you will need at least 5 metres of fabric that is 52 ins wide or 6 metres of fabric thats only 44 ins wide. In addition by using fabric you will add extra time and effort as the skirt will need to be hemmed whereas you can use the hems already on curtains.The gown below was made using faux silk gold damask which would usually be used for curtains


yet its a perfect match to Elizabeth 1 coronation gown


You can sometimes find roll ends of furnishing  fabrics as 5 metres is not enough fabric for curtains so  fabric around this length is sold off cheaply ,you could be lucky .I bought the blue damask below for £1 per metre

tudro gown

If you cant afford furnishing fabrics the remaining choices are cotton velvet which is also very expensive it seems cheaper that it actually is because velvet is usually sold in narrower widths of 44 ins rather than 52 ,this means you need more velvet than other fabrics . By far the best choice is faux silk or  faux silk taffeta,It give a beautiful flowing look.

green tudor gown

Shot fabrics especially look excellent

purple taffeta tudor gown

Taffeta can often be bought on line on ebay for around £3 per metre and as its so much cheaper you could more more and add extra width to the skirts .

If using fabric and you dont make a good job of the hem or prefer not to try to hide stitches you can add a trim.

cliff castle door mary gown

Dont be tempted to use satin which is too shiny and puckers easily or synthetic velvet which looks too shiny and doesn’t drape correctly ,Crushed velvet is likewise out as its inaccurate.Unless you want a Tudor feel gown  that doesn’t need to be accurate in which case use Ice velvet.

back arwyn

which is a better quality crushed  faux silk velvet.


You will need to decide on what style of sleeves you want to have on your gown ,this might be limited by how much fabric you have or how wide the curtains were .

The hardest style and the ones which will require more fabric hunting are the traditional Tudor sleeves that are  tight at the top and very full wide further down.

grreen tudor gown

To make the fur sleeves you need fake or real fur  both are very expensive,I used a vintage faux fur coat for the ones above and below

kat parr gown front

You can use velvet but that’s also expensive you will need two metres to make generous ones .They will also need lining which is awkward.

black and purple sleeves

or  you could use taffeta which is cheaper and could be folded over rather than lined

golden gown cross

Whatever fabric you use to make  the full sleeves correctly does require dressmaking skills and idealy a pattern (The Tudor Tailor has excellent guides and patterns) .

However to make a cheats version doesn’t  need a pattern or as much skill as you make the dress with just the top tight fitting sleeve then make the full sleeves separately and pin them on.


this is not necessarily inaccurate there is some evidence to suggest this is how the Tudors wore gowns with expensive full sleeves .I will cover how to make them later .They do unfortunately take a lot more fabric and time than the remaining styles of sleeves.They also need a pair of wide contrasting over sleeves to look authentic.


The over sleeves are separate items .

duck egg sleeves



Other options

The easiest and most impressive sleeves  are the puffed very full and open sleeves which are also very flattering.

katherine howard new

kat howard 4

These are very easy and look amazing,your also likely to stand out from the crowd as most people tend to choose the traditional full sleeves styles.Each sleeve is just a gathered oblong of fabric edged at its ends then left open or you can tack it closed at intervals.This style of sleeve is cheaper and easier to wear as you dont need to wear over sleeves which are the wide full sleeves seen under Tudor gowns


And its also just possible to get away without wearing a chemise as you can stitch strips of fabric inside the sleeve and add a faux chemise cuff.

red sleevsand cuff

red t gown

For Elizabethan gowns you can use a similar sleeve style but with closed sides

gold elizabethan front edite

Fitted straight sleeves another fairly easy option

coronation gown seated



or tie on sleeves an even easier option to make but harder to wear

black gwn hd

This style of sleeve can either be the same as the gown as above and below

eleanore gown wt partlet

or in contrasting fabric to match the petticoat ,,which is a good way around having too little gown fabric

eleanor gown f

Complicated sleeves

These are not particularly difficult but do need access to furnishing trims and take a lot longer than other types of sleeves.These are tie on lower sleeves that attached to a short sleeved gown

eliz shot gown 2


ven gown

The gowns short sleeves are basically strips of fabric edged with trim attached at the gowns neckline and then attached to a strip of fabric at their base .You then make tie on straight narrow sleeves.


Tudor necklines were usually edged with something either braid or more frequently jewelled or fake jewel  trimmings

princess mary tudor neckline

Sometimes this matched the headdress trimming


sometimes headdresses were simpler

FrancoiseBrezeHead french hood

For the cheats gown necklines  can be left plain if the fabric itself is impressive enough to hide the absence.



But is does mean you wont be able to hide any mistakes made around the neckline and the neckline may not stay as stiff as you like .Gowns are therefore usually better with a trim around the neckline .Below I used a simple pearl  trim  made from a necklace to suggest the idea of the gowns front being a panel  that pined across

purple gown 2

While the trim on the gown below helped hold the curved front of the neckline up

green tudor gown front

grreen tudor gown

Trims can be bought on-line from Etsy and eBay or plain strings of faux pearls can be bought in most craft shops . But the easiest things to find are necklaces ,Pearl necklaces can be bought cheaply in many dress stores (primark often has strings of pearls) and make excellent trimmings for both gowns and hoods

french hood 1

bolyen hood


regency gown sleeve

Upholstery braid is also fairly easy to buy  and was used on the lilac gown

eliz shot gown 2

The best trim is a faux gold or jewelled  trim ,these are usually made in china and you need to buy them on line but look stunning on both gowns and headdresses ,these let you recreate authentic Tudor designs


narrow red hood



The petticoat of a Tudor gown is not the underskirt we think of when we hear the word today ,it was a skirt that was designed to be at least partly visible.It was sometimes of more expensive  fabrics than the gown.

red pett

white pettc

or was more elaborately worked decorated with pearls etc as above.

I might be the same fabric all the way around and could be worn alone

40s and elizabethan 032

And it may have  matching sleeves

flora pet red ruff st

But it was much more common to have only a front panel of expensive fabric and the unseen fabric would be something cheaper

purple pett

If your making an open fronted Tudor gown you will need to make one of these petticoats and they do take a lot of time and are another layer to wear and most gowns with petticoats were worn with matching over sleeves


.Closed fronted gowns are a much better choice for your first dress of for a gown to wear somewhere hot

gold elizabethan gown side

I will give instructions on making petticoats and over sleeves in a later post but including instructions here will make this current post too long

duck egg sleeves

How to make your bodice

You will be simply covering over the bodice you currently have ,

wit and wisdom denim bodice

then you can either leave it plain or decorate it.Decorating need not be difficult or expensive,though I had to rearranged them to sew them on the gown ,the jewels here came from a vintage Asian wedding gown.

bodice front

To recover your bodice.

(I will add a lot more photos to this part of the post in the near future as I realise there are not enough of these to make the instructions as clear as I would wish )

Assuming the bodice fastens at the back with a zip cut the zip out leaving a back opening ,if you cut the top and bottom off the zip you can use the strip of plastic runner or teeth to strengthen the back of your gown later

bodice stage 2

If the waistline and neckline are  as you need them then you can start to recover the bodice.The gown below used a bodice such as the ones in the bodice instructions

wit and wisdom bodice

with its existing waist left as it was

golden gown

golden gown bingley gable hood

,if not you can change the waist for a pointed waistline cut two curved pieces from either side of the front

bodice three

These pieces could them be tacked to the already curved pointed front to make a very deep point or left to give an gentler shape

gold tudor gown

If there is any very sharp pieces of boning now exposed you can do a quick fix by sealing then with sticky tape but a better option is to make sure there is an extra layer of fabric over these places.

To make the neckline higher it best to simply fold over twice at the neckline the fabric you will be using to recover the bodice ,to widen it cut out part of the should strap part of the neckline.

To start covering the bodice stitch on the front panel either use a decorated piece of fabric or fabric the same as the rest of the gown.I have shown a decorated panel here is its easier to see the shape.Tudor gowns need a very wide front panel that goes from neckline edge to edge

bodice top layer

Turn the fabric over at the neck and waist if you turn it over twice at the neck now you can make a square neckline

bodice inside

bodiceblack panel


You are trying to recreate the straight Tudor front of the gown


mart tudor gown1

You then stitch the next pieces on at either side and in a straight line do this by overlapping them slightly and laying them the patterned or right side facing each other ,use two layers of stitches but any stitch will do.Turn the new panels over at the tops and bottom and around arm holes

bodice boning back

When you reach the back panels you can either try to create a v shaped neckline or just continue to recover the bodice as it is.I would suggest for first attempts its best to just carry on around but you could cut the back neckline of the bodice base  to a slight v before recovering it  .When you get to the last panels of fabric at the back  of the bodice turn them  over at the end but before stitching the ends at the bottom and top thread the zipper pieces  through the gap and tack at the end of the fabric (see above )Do this on both sides as it will stop the fabric ripping around the lacing holes

Your bodice is now more or less complete ,dont put lacing holes or cord in until you have added sleeves unless the gown will not have any.Also keep back a panel of the bodices fabric  thats at least 6 inches wide and around 6 to 10 inches longer in length than the bodice ,this will be your modesty panel it goes at the back under the lacing cord to prevent a chemise showing though any gap and its longer so that it also covers any gap in the skirt.The gown belwo is the same in both cases

ven gown


the only difference is that in the second photo the modesty panel has been pulled across the front of the gown under the lacing cord.


Making sleeves.

Sleeves are simply  assorted shaped oblongs of fabric you stitch into the gowns arm hole.Their length and fullness will depend on what style you decide on ,

for short tight fitting sleeves hold the fabric against you at shoulder  level to work out how long  you need the piece to be and then hold it against  the bodice armhole to work out how wide  leave at least an extra 6 ins on top of what to think is correct  for both  length and width before cutting out the shape ,Now tack the oblong into the arm hole ,when its completely attached you can cut off any excess fabric and sew the edges together .before doing a sturdier layer of stitches pull it on and see if you got the length right if so cut off any excess at the bottom of the sleeve (remember to leave some extra to turn over for a hem to the sleeve.Now add sturdy layers of stitching at the seams and were the sleeve is attached .

golden pett

You should now have something roughly like this bodice.To this you can attached ful tie on wide sleeves to create this finished result.I will do a later post on ways to create these full sleeves but a very easy quick option if to find some crisp but light fabric cut  two very wide and long stripes, sew each strip  together along its long edge and then sew them as carefully as possible together along their ends ,this wont make a invisible join but if you tack these sleeves on with the seam at the top its possible to hide the seam .Gathered the top together inside and pin on ,as long as the fabrics not too bulky and is stff enough to hang well this will work fairly well

partlet black damask gown

You could also make over sleeves by cutting strips from a faux fur throw and stitching them in the same way.

For longer wrist length sleeves

corontation gown alone

the process is almost identical  except that you will need to slightly taper the sleeves so they are narrower at the cuff ,its safest to do this by making an oblong pulling it onto your arm and trimming off the excess below your upper arm towards the wrist ,,dont trim it all off at once trim some off tack it see if its fits snugly if not trim a tiny bit more where its baggy and continue in this way until you have a snugly fitting sleeve.(If you will be wearing any under layers on your  arms take this into account when you are sewing the sleeves ,some chemises have very full sleeves which will add bulk

restoration chemises

Trim your sleeves wrist either use plain pearls from a necklace or strip or use more elaborate mixes of gold and pearl strings of beads or jewelled trim,the more elaborate the trim the more impressive your gown will look.This is a cheap plastic faux jewelled trim which I edged with strings of plastic pearls ,together they create an impression of a rich and lavishly detailed gown.

purple cuff

To make open sleeves or puffed sleeves

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

These are bigger oblongs that are much wider but  also slightly longer to take into account the fact they will stick out more

Sew the oblong on at the arm hole but this time gather it up as go along either use a running stitch to do this before you sew or just keep folding the fabric over as you sew.Make most of the gathers at the top .when you run out of fabric trim away any extra sew the seam together if its not going to be open and put it on to check its long enough ,then gather the wrist with a running stitch.Sew a piece of braid  or trim over were you gathered it instead of making a proper wrist band.If your going to leave the side open it would look best if you could also trim these

red sleevsand cuff

Tie on sleeves

These are very easy and are just tubes of fabric which have been hemmed along all their edges ,Work out how long and wide by the same method of holding them against you .Stitch all the edges and decorate at the tops sides and wrist

green brocade dress

ivory sleeves

Stitch pieces of ribbon onto the top of the sleeves and inside the bodice at least three one at the top and two either side.

Making the skirt.

This part is very easy ,you simply cut the header tape off the curtain and check the length will be correct if its going to be too long cut a strip off the top of the fabric.Gather the fabric together either by folding it into pleats and tacking them down  or with by sewing it and gathering it as you go along  ,keep trying it on to see if you have it the right shape and width.When your happy either stitch it together  it almost to the top  or if its going to be an open fronted skirt cut a small thin gap at the back and leave the curtain edges to form the front of the skirt

Mary gown white cherry tree

attach it to the bodice with sturdy stitches to the original bodice which is now the lining of your recovered bodice but be careful not to go through into the new fabric covering it.

for a closed skirted gown you simply add the skirt to the bodice with the back seam at the centre back and leave the gap in the skirt to correspond to the place where the bodice lacing holes will go.The lacing cord will be able to go into this gap rather than dangle down behind the gown.A modesty panel of fabric either stitched into the gowns bodice at the back or just a separate piece of fabric placed under the lacing cord will hide any gaps in the lacing of the bodice and cover the gap in the skirt.This is entirely accurate ,most clothing was fastened in this manner or some similar manner.

You should now have a finished gown if its closed at the front

me and tilly gold dress

or if you are making an open fronted one something this shape

damask sleeves

I will prepare a post on petticoats and sleeves but if I do not finish it before your read the post there is a stop gap way to create a fake petticoat.Either buy a prom skirt in damask ,taffeta or velvet and use that .Or cut a strip of damask silk etc  wide enough to go across your front  and the correct length.Now hem it and sew on two pieces of ribbon ,one at each side to make ties ,this apron can be tied under your gown and if  the over gown is heavy enough fabric this could be enough to give the impression of a petticoat .Or sew this panel of fabric to the front of a long skirt bought from a charity  shop, To do this cut the charity shop skirt up the centre front and cut a narrow  panel of fabric out  by cutting across under the  waistband then stitch the panel into the gap left tucking it over the top remaining  bit of front waistband  and tacking it in place ,then sew the edges  of the skirt onto the edges of the fabric.


If you do have access to a place to buy trimmings or can get them on line and have enough time.try adding several trims to each part of the gown requiring them.If you have cuffs on your chemise try adding some gold braid to their edges


Or add lace to make it look like  Tudor black work embroidery

tudor inner sleeves

Or add trim or gold braid to the wrist bands


add a layer of fabric  the neckline to create a faux chemise or make a partlet with is something to go under or over the gown to fill in the neckline.These are fairly easy to make but you could just sew a strip of fabric under the dress neckline to get the same effect.

I have other Tudor clothing posts here


I have posts on how to make other Tudor items such as Head  dresses herehttps://hathawaysofhaworth.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/the-easy-gable-hood-guide/


An intermediate hood guide will follow shortly

All the Head dresses below  were made using Cardboard and tape covered in assorted fabrics





tudro gown

green tudor gown front

reddresseated tudor gown

gable hood gold

french hood 1

white fur hood

gable hood front








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An very easy guide to Making your own Victorian or Regency bonnet

Here is a quick and easy guide to creating a fairly realistic looking Victorian  or Regency bonnet.I am sorry but I haven’t been able to get step by step photos for this post yet but I will try to add them Asap.

The bonnet above was made using a straw 198os style sun hat which was recovered with vintage silk and satin to create an accurate period shape and finish.,however its possible to create a Victorian  bonnet much more quickly if you don’t need complete accuracy.

You will need

needle and thread



a straw or felt hat

possibly wire cutters or secatures to cut the wire from  the hats brim

and Ideally

a cushion sized piece of fabric to cover the back of the bonnet

a piece of veiling or fine semi see through fabric to make a bonnet veil.you may be able to pick up an old wedding veil from a charity shop or a veil from one of those hen night hats.The veil below is wedding tulle

Mrs bronte 2


It would also be  great if you can find any of the following

feathers ,fake flowers  or other trims such as velvet ribbon ,upholstery trimmings or even buttons can  be used,no pieces need to be large or long.The hat below was decorated with a couple of pheasant feathers a scrap of wide ribbon trim  approx 8 ins long and some velvet  ribbon

green poke boonett

.If you making a bonnet near Christmas ,Christmas decoration counters or  shops will have lots of suitable trimmings,wired ribbons ,satin ribbons .

red bonnet

,fake holly berries, poinsettia,fake leaves etc,

bonnet trims


This is not designed as a guide to making replica standard bonnets for re enactors but as an easy to use set of instructions for those with no costuming experience or skills.It also uses materials ready to hand ,though the bonnets look better with more expensive or vintage trims and ribbon

bonnet red

First you need something to create your bonnet with  woven straw sun hats are ideal as they are easy to cut  and can  if need be ,be soaked to adjust their shapes to what seems most suitable. Look at images of the style of bonnet you want to make then look for a sun hat with a similar shape of brim .For an early Victorian bonnet you need a very wide brimmed hat  such as the one below.


brown dress1



later bonnets any size can be used but they must have a fairly high generous top or crown


cloak and bonnet closed


All the hats above can be bought here

.http://www.polyvore.com/uniqlo_floppy_hat/thing?id=133120306 ,but it should be possible to pick them up cheaply from charity shops or in summer from supermarkets.

The main essential is that they are not too floppy ,a wired brim is also desirable but not essential .Wire brims will let you turn back the bonnet brim to create different shapes but otherwise they wont really impact on how you style the bonnet.

new bonnet

I used a fairly cheap wide brimmed straw hat  ,then cut out a semi circle from the crown at the back and cut up either side of the hats band so the brim could be moved to make a bonnet shape .Just experiment with how much needs cutting to get the shape of bonnet brim you want .When you have the shape right you need to sewn down the brim at the sides .Next the cut  edges will need to be covered with something ideally matching  ribbon can  be used to cover the cut marks in the straw as below.But you could use lace or strips of fabric.To cover up the altered back you could add a piece of fabric gathered around the back

new bonnet

or just leave it as it is and make it seem as though the twisted brim is a feature of the bonnet not where its been altered


Before sewing the ribbons onto your bonnet,look at the style of bonnet you are trying to recreate ,some bonnets have ribbons which are attached inside ,some have ribbons attached outside either at the edge of the brim or very high up onto the actual crown of the hat ,Where you put the ribbons will affect how the hat sits on your head.

1830s dress scarbough

It is also possible to buy bonnet “blanks”these are actual properly shaped straw “bonnets” but without ribbons or trims.These are more expensive but need no work except some ribbons sewing on .If you buy one of these and buy two metres of ribbon you will need to do virtually no sewing you just wrap the ribbon around the brim so it meets at the top then take the ends and tie them under your chin as below,you will need a few stitches to keep the ribbon on the crown and crossed at the front but otherwise it is finished.

brown dress claok hat


blue cloak back hood

The Etsy shop below is I feel the best place to buy bonnet blanks


Its very handy to look at these bonnet blanks as they will give a very good idea of what shape you need to cut from your straw hat .



However  if your wearing the bonnet outside felt hats are warmer and much more water resistant If using a felt hat its best to choose one in dark colours ideally grey or black.


For felt hats its essential the same process as for straw hats  cut out a curved back piece,now cut up between the brim and crown and pull it back to create a graceful curve stitch in place.Add ribbons






To make the straw bonnets a more authentic shape you can soak the bonnet in water before you  cut it to shape. I use slightly warm water as cold water takes longer and as long as its not too hot it doesn’t damage the hats.When its been soaking for an hour or so take the bonnet out and pull it about into the  shape you want keep reshaping while it dries.I don’t advise soaking bonnets and reshaping unless you very keen to get a perfect shape as its time consuming and for the best results you really need a “head”  mannequin head or  something head shaped to dry the hat on .

The  bonnets below where made without soaking and most of my bonnets have not been soaked to get a better shape



red taratn vcitroain gown


Its possible to make a bonnet with just the straw hat and some ribbon but the more trimmings you can find or buy the more realistic you hat will look ,The best feathers are ostrich feathers ,you could use cake decorating flowers ,ribbon or trims.trims. Maribo feathers,braid that is used for trimming cushions or furniture,ribbons from chocolate boxes,Christmas or Easter  decorations etc.The more trimmings you can add the more authentic the bonnet will look

lady catherine hat

I have very rarely bought specialist millinery trims though I do keep a look out for genuine antique ribbons and trims.The ribbon on te hat below was Victorian.

local day bmpme

I have also got a post on making later victorian  hats here


Included below is an image guide of  extant bonnets for reference when decorating your own bonnet


I will add further posts on make  late Victorian hats  such as the one below from a cardboard box and hair band

back claudia gown


and also Regency hats such as the one below

 regency gown

jane suten hat m




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Hedges ,time saving wildlife havens,a non gardeners guide

Creating a garden hedge is one of those rare things ,something  simple,time saving and economical for humans yet invaluable to wildlife, insects,butterfly’s ,bees ,birds mammals and amphibians can all benefit yet  its something which needs no specialist knowledge or skills.This is a very long post so its broken up into sections if one part isn’t applicable just skim over it.

butterlfy 1

More remarkable still its the perfect  “fence ” for gardeners or house owners providing privacy and security .

Hedges are time saving, cheap, low maintenance and attractive,many are burglar and livestock proof . A hedge unlike a fence wont need a regular  coat of paint or creosote,it wont need replacing every few years and it wont blow down in high winds but it will shield your garden from them.Depending on what plants you choose it may need a yearly or twice yearly trim ,but if your planting it some distance from houses and want something traditional then after the first  two or three years even this isn’t essential.Creating a hedge doesn’t need any special skills ,knowledge or tools ,nor do you need the expensive services of a joiner or builder.There are numerous shrubs which have  maximum heights of five to ten feet and  after their  first years wont need any attention while many which grow taller can be used and cut back easily to keep them smaller.

This post is designed to be useful to the garden novice ,first time garden owners or the non gardening home owner looking for an alternative to their old deteriorating fence.It will hopefully also help new home owners who have inherited a hedge such a privet.

But if you dont have a garden its still not impossible to provide many of the benefits of a true hedge ,there is an excellent blog on wordpress here


This shows the miracles that can be worked on a tiny  urban balcony several floors above ground level.



Hedges as a wildlife haven,help prevent extinctions 

There is no easier and cheaper way to help prevent the decline of dozens of endangered species than to plant a hedge.All parts of the hedge ,its base its branches and even just its actual existence are invaluable resources for endangered species 130 of of most endangered species are reliant on hedges and any size of hedge in any location can benefit most .You can  even  with very little effort and expense make your garden an actual officially certified wildlife habitat.In its importance to endangered species it will be as locally important as the bigger  famous ones ,your own mini  equivalent of  rainforest or  Serengeti ,its very likely you have as many endangered species in your area which you will help to save as many wildlife reserves have .Its easy to have at least 100 species of plants and animals that can benefit from your efforts


Many of our once common species are now more endangered than  some species of high profile animals such big cats ,elephants or whales but unlike these exotic species you can actually help prevent extinctions directly in your own back or front garden.More British birds are endangered than are doing well ,once common birds ,the house sparrow,Song thrush,swallows ,sky lark,nightingale ,cuckoo,starling ,turtle dove ,willow and march tits,There are 52 British bird species on a conservation red list ,126 species on the amber list and only 62 species on the green list .This means that more of our bird species are in trouble than are safe The system of listing is explained here.


While some of these species need specialised areas many such as the house and tree sparrow can be helped by creating a wildlife friendly garden and especially a hedge.

Further endangered wildlife which may be helped by planting a hedge are British mammals .While some are rare to see in the average garden Even small town gardens may have visiting Hedgehogs . The Hedgehog is now a major conservation concern and if gardeners do not help the hedgehog its likely to suffer further declines .Gardeners can both harm and help the hedgehog,slug pellets kill hedgehogs and bird species that feed on the poisoned slugs,adding fences that go to ground level denies the hedgehog its route to its territory ,Hedgehogs as their names suggests like hedges and can travel up to a kilometre a night finding food ,if they cant get into parts of that territory they may stray into roads or may simply become malnourished and  fail to breed or simply slowly starve .It only needs a very small hole or gap in fencing to let hedgehogs through and the hole wont be big enough to let in cats.If you provide a hedge with a suitable niche a hedgehog may very well build a nest and breed in your hedge or hibernate there.Hedgehogs do no harm to gardens and are quite often happy to feed very close to doors and windows where you can watch them .



Other mammals of conservation concern are Dormice ,red squirrels and some voles.Dormice are not the common or garden mice but specialist mostly hedge dwelling little mammals.



while your unlikely to live in a area where dormice are common they are being reintroduced so  if you have a large garden in a suitable area planting hazel and honeysuckle may be helping create a ready made niche for these animals  as they spread from their initial release sites ,some may even hibernate in your hedge.

Hibernating Dormouse

also endangered are the British hares and several bat species.

Endangered butterflies and insects.

some of our once common insects and butterflies are now endangered species many in very serious trouble,the once common little tortoise shell butterfly overall one third are in serious decline


and more species are  yearly being added to the watch list of conservation concern over all 55 per cent of British butterfly species are threatened and in decline.

butterlfy 1


Unlike animals Butterflies are one of the easiest species to accommodate  in even the tiniest garden.Many easily grown,attractive  and cheap shrubs such as the butterfly bush buddleia can make a huge difference and a well planned hedge make a home for a wide range of beautiful butterflies that may otherwise have so feeding grounds.All the photos of butterflies and bees in this post are taken from my window  during an afternoon and show butterflies and bees on a small buddliea bush

butterly one

for ideas on how to help butterflies try this post


Bees are also in decline both worldwide and in the UK



Two British bumble bee species are now extinct,bumble bees can be helped easily in gardens by planting flowering shrubs or even small plants on patios


Its also worth noting that not all bees necessarily  sting ,many dont and most wont unless provoked .Not all look like the bumble bee ,some can look like wasps and so end up being swatted or sprayed.

heres a bee identification guide


in general wasps are longer thinner and a much brighter yellow .

Bees are not the only species in decline ,some well loved species such as dragon flies and other lesser know species are also in serious trouble.


Not all insect species are of course harmless or desirable and there’s an good list of those to avoid here,though some will happily visit gardens and stay undisturbed


Just throwing some old bricks at the back of the hedge can create a home for insects ,

The last group of animals to benefit are our British reptiles and amphibians,many of these are also endangered and can be helped by gardeners almost all are harmless and beneficial to gardens.Probably the easiest to accommodate are toads.They just need slightly damp place that are in quiet parts of the garden.



You  may not be a fan of toads ,frogs newts etc but if you place habitats in your hedge its very likely that you will help them survive but unless you go looking you wont spot them They will benefit your garden by eating pests and you can make a huge difference to their survival,gardens can create passage ways or “wildlife corridors”  for species to spread ,perhaps a piece of land nearby  to you is being built on ,the wildlife that lived there will be homeless and may not be able to get to new ground ,,by using gardens these animals will survive and may spread to nearby spaces that lacked them previously helping to repopulate areas


Frogs need slightly more than toads to take up residence but even a very small pound can be extremely beneficial .Theres are other species such as slow worms and newts which need specific habitats and so I have not covered them here as  while can use hedges as pathways to other habitats for maximum benefit you  will need more than a hedge .


Most British reptile species may visit your garden if you specifically tailor it to their needs but a hedge alone while it can be valuable because  they may use to travel to other areas will not attract them to stay if your garden is otherwise inhospitable.Putting your compost heap next to  one end of your hedge,letting large patches of grass grow long  or adding a pond will be much more likely to result in reptiles visiting .Almost all are safe visitors for both humans and pets we only have one species of poisonous snake in the UK the Adder which is easily identified ,quite rare to find in any gardens and its bite while unpleasant is not fatal and unless you stand on one or handle one your very unlikely  to be bitten.Its illegal to harm adders .



Lastly endangered plants

Many of our endangered plant species can also thrive near or in your hedge ,British bluebells are under threat from the introduced Spanish bluebell and from hybrids .These are being grown specially now and can be bought from reputable buyers for very little (around £10 per hundred) .(Its illegal to dig them up or collect seed from the wild).Primroses and cowslips will also grown below your hedge and all of these will self seed and spread  so you can make a difference in helping save these and many other  species.

seed for most wild flowers can be bought here


or for quicker easier results you can buy plants online .If you have a suitable niche that’s very shady and damp you could also grown some ferns,there are a number of endangered species and these can often be encouraged in damp parts of hedges.


or encourage fungi,algae and lichens



Part Two  

Hedges for security .

A hedge can be a great security feature that’s burglar and vandal proof  especially if a good mix of thorn bearing plants is used so its an ideal choice for areas with high burglary rates or problems with trespassers or livestock.There are a lot of prickly or thorny shrubs and climbers and you can have almost year round colour.and an impenetrable barrier.If you need something tidy looking and evergreen try hollies ,or a mix of hollies and firethorns also called Pyracantha (which is just latin for fire thorn).


pyracantha-hedge (1)

For more informal hedge thats completely burglar and animal proof  my own personal choice would be a mix of hawthorns and sloes with brambles, dog roses and sweet briar (a kind of wild rose with scented leaves) and quinces perhaps under planted with gooseberry ,maybe gorse.You could also maybe invest in a climbing rose in your favourite colour for cut flowers Thevery easy to find Golden showers is very prickly but its flowers can be cut and will last a few days,Iceberg is a white similar rose both flower more than once over summer .This mix is cheap ,quick growing low maintenance and will give flowers from early spring to autumn,the dog roses wont last when picked but smell lovely and most of the shrubs provide berries through from early autumn and into late winter you can cook the gooseberries and make sloe gin with the sloes.  Thorny hedges can be  doubly effective if your hedge is somewhere where it can be allowed to develop a under planting of wildlife friendly but people deterring nettles at one or both sides.Advice on plants for security can be found here,this site also gives a list of trees suitable for gardens where security may be a issue .


However before planting prickly or thorny trees or shrubs its wise to consider potential injuries to you and others .Its very unwise to plant plant thorny shrubs where they will grow over footpaths or into neighbours space Lots of minor and some very serious injuries occur  each  year from accidents with thorny shrubs.


The main culprits are Berbris species ,many of which have particularly vicious spiny thorns.


(photo credit Phil Bendle page http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/weeds/barberry.html which is an exploration of the damage done from garden shrubs which self seed into the wild )

Quickthorn also know as Hawthorn and May.Though these tend to cause mainly superficial scratches but  if  they are grown next to pavements they can be a problem for unwary passers by who might walk into branches .Hawthorn is probably a good low risk thorny shrub for gardens where livestock are causing problems, as long as there are only older children  (I used to climb into  the crook of Hawthorn tree as a teenager to read and despite spending hours up there often in summery clothing I never got scratched)


(photo compliments of the woodland trust site ,an invaluable guide for anyone wanting to plant trees and hedges http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/native-trees/hawthorn/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwi-moBRDL4Omf9d_LndMBEiQAQtFf8xAZoT1u-tSMJhVDHDrpYldEfRIxaa4wXWtm7ZjvtQEaAmbr8P8HAQ

Sloes also known as blackthorn these also have very  long  very sharp thorns that are quite densely packed together



Sloes are a great wildlife friendly choice providing early flowers and sloe berries ,they grown very fast and form a stock and burglar proof hedge that’s very low maintenance ,but the thorns do cause quite nasty scratches that go much deeper than Hawthorns and the thorns can come off and go into skin so again a bad choice next to footpaths or for gardens with very young children.

Brambles or Blackberries

These are very prickly and in my experience at least thorns seem to come off  fairly easily into flesh on contact ,,though they are usually also fairly easy to remove ,being springy brambles  can easily  flick back and catch your face .Our own blackberries always manage to get me when I prune them  causing  long scratches from their thorns and larger thorns  often end up in my fingers.Though they need to be kept under control and need something to climb over  Brambles mixed with wild rose would make an impressive and productive security feature grown over a wall and provide human and wildlife with food .

Lastly that perennial favourite for garden injuries ,,, roses. The thorns on roses vary from sturdy sharp ones typical of most garden roses to the tiny thorns that completely cover the stems of wild roses and wild  type roses.If you cant risk thorns injuring children or passers by or want something to go over a gateway arch there are a  few thorn less roses the most vigorous and beautiful being Zéphirine Drouhin which is  beautifully scented long flowering and  more or less completely thorn less.I had one for well over ten years and cut flowers from it during the whole of summer and never found one branch with thorns



The Zephirine Drouhin  rose can be bought from David Austen  following the link below but is sometimes  available from garden centres   http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/showrose.asp?showr=619

Hedges for Privacy

A hedge is  a perfect privacy provider .While all hedges will form a thick visual barrier deciduous shrubs (ones that loose all their leaves in autumn and winter ) only provide summer privacy so if your wanting to shield your house from passers by they may not be a good choice  but evergreen  (green and occasionally other coloured shrubs) provide year round or almost year round privacy .If your house is detached or in a quite area or if you have to come and go very late at night I would personally avoid having hedges that are too high or too deep, too close to doors or gates for security reasons ,tall thick hedges next to a side gate or front door provide potential attackers with the ideal cover to hide privacy can be a double edged sword.

The easiest evergreen hedges are hollys and privet and while hollys have more ecological benefits the one that your most likely to inherit is privet. Though you may not know its name you will definitely have seen privet hedges .

privet hedge

These were  very common in Victorian times and still being planted up to the 1960s. Though  they do have their limitations and are normally clipped to neat dense slabs of green( as above )privet does not  have to be a wall of boring green .It has quite  pretty  white flowers (though some  people dont like the smell I find it innocuous)which are useful for bees and some butterflies  and though for its first years it needs trimming to create a dense base once you have the desired height and shape it can then be cut after its flowers have died .(if your hedge overhangs a pavement you should probably clip back the pavement side to stop it causing problems for people who use the path .

Down sides

Privet is not a particularly  interesting plant and  its wildlife benefits are not as good as many other shrubs but it is infinitely  better than a fence .If you can start from scratch there are better choices of shrubs but if you already own a hedge you are lucky to have some mature shrubs and its probably already  playing home to numerous insects and possible some birds and can be made more wildlife friendly  .On the downside it is poisonous to some livestock esp horses so its not suitable where this may be a problem.Theres also some evidence that privet harbours the disease that is causing our Ash trees to die so if your planting a new hedge in a rural area you might want to use something else instead


If you have privet and want some variety you can grow another shrub such as  low growing versions of pyracantha with them or grow tall flowers in front such as delphiniums ,hollyhocks , yellow loose strife or climbing annuals such as sweet peas and nasturtiums or annual bulbs such a gladioli.There are not really many shrubs or climbers than you can grow into privet hedges as the clipping needed to keep privets tidy will ruin the benefits of other shrubs .Planting things under it works better even though the soil below the hedge is  going to get dry and the privet will take a lot of the nutrients  some plants dont seem to mind this, we have a peony in front of  ours which grows really well produces lots of flowers and needs nothing doing to it.If you want to treat the privet and the plants below you can improve the soil by scattering the compost  from planters and hanging baskets over the base of the hedge when the planters flowers die at the end of summer .

Plus side

Privet hedges are  fairly easy to grow , low maintenance and  can be cut to any height and width so they are suitable for the smallest gardens and all styles of garden.They absorb pollution and some street noise, even left untended most privets wont grow taller than 10 feet ( though  they can officially reach 15 feet we have inherited a few neglected gardens with very old shrubs  I haven’t seen a privet taller than 10ft in any of them .If you can let the privet hedge grow high they will also provide nesting places for birds but privets dont really provide any winter food  or colour.They can easily be used to create toad habitats  by placing some rocks under them ,maybe over an upturned lid or shallow tub filled up with soil to help keep a little bit damp,as a child I saw lots of toads in stony nooks and crannies under the privet hedges

There are privets that have patterned ( variegated) leaves.These create just as good a hedge but wont grow  at the same pace as plain privets so its probably not a good idea to include them  with the standard green ones if you need a uniform height or use them if you need a very fast growing hedge as they grow less quickly .


photo credit Brent Wilson

My front garden currently looks a little bleak as no shrubs or plants are flowering but we do at least have the green privet hedge.In summer I can sit here literally two feet from the pavement and road which goes past our house unseen and with much of the noise blocked out by the hedge and the song of birds in the trees and shrubs

(I will be planting bulbs and tall flowering plants here over summer and give an update on how that has worked )

front garden spring

 Part Three

Other hedging options and their benefits


A mix of Flowering and fruiting  shrubs create the best hedges,these provide free house flowers saving  money and  free fruits .They provide scent and they look much nicer than bare blocks of fencing.If you are careful in your choice you can have some flowers all year around.

Medium height and depth  traditional hedge

Plant  a backbone  of thorny trees /shrubs such as a hawthorn ,sloe and quince ,then fill in with shrubs that flower during different seasons ,the not very dense but  easy going and winter flowering winter Jasmine,winter honeysuckle and,cornelian cherry ,sloe hawthorn ,red current ,raspberry hazel and normal honeysuckle with a thorn less rose and possibly true jasmine.

However hedges don’t have to have the traditional country look of hawthorns and hazels It possible to have a very bright and colourful hedge.The photo below is of a Lavatera  hedge ,some Lavatera shrubs are also evergreen  with soft silvery green foliage  and almost all come with a  long flowering time.The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies and  its very fast growing so they are perfect for a quick fix hedge ,but they are short lived (our last shrub lived approx 5 years ).They dont grow particularly densely so probably wont keep animals in or out unless you add some hidden chicken wire



photo credit Waitrose garden centre

For wildlife, hedges are a God send as they provide food shelter and a place to nest but if you are a garden bird  and wildlife feeder you can make huge savings by growing a hedge. A years bought feed for garden birds will probably cost  at least £75 assuming  you dont feed many birds or many  different types of feeds or have feeder thieves such as squirrels

hanging and pole feeders/

If you  have a lot of birds visiting  or buy a range of foods it can  easily be as much as £250 or more.After two or three years a hedge can reduce this to less than £50 and its unlikely to attract problem birds such a pigeons or vermin such as rats.Other savings include buying feeders ,buying nesting boxes ,buying special habitats such as hedgehog homes or amphibian  and bee habitats .To buy shrubs for a new hedge will cost around £3 per metre.

Suitable shrubs Price guide 

While almost anything can be used to create a hedge some choices are better than others ,the ideal plants can vary from situation to situation .Hornbeam makes a wonderful hedge but needs to be trimmed regularly as the hornbeam tree grows to over 90 ft .

Here is a  hedging guide


from Buckingham Nurseries, a nursery I use and which supplies excellent shrubs and trees.A cross section of prices shows how cheap it can be to create a hedge

The table below shows blackthorn ,sloe prices

d  16-24ins
40-60 cm
£0.89 £0.39 £0.34 £0.30
 Sd  2-3ft
60-90 cm
£0.95 £0.45 £0.38 £0.34
 Tr  2-3ft
60-90 cm
£1.19 £0.69 £0.60 £0.51
 Tr  3-4ft
90-120 cm
£1.39 £0.89 £0.78 £0.6


d  16-24ins
40-60 cm
£0.99 £0.49 £0.42 £0.36
 Tr  2-3ft
60-90 cm
£1.29 £0.79 £0.70 £0.60
 Tr  3-4ft
90-120 cm
£1.69 £1.19 £1.08 £0.93


Price per plant for
1+ 5+ 50+ 250+
 Tr  3-4ft
90-120 cm
£1.99 £1.55 £1.44 £1.2

Hedging shrubs are not the bushy big plants bought in nurseries ,they come in assorted sizes from 1 ft to 5ft and have been grown to be easily trained into shape.They come bare rooted which means without a pot but with all the soil shaken off their roots,bare rooted plants are only available during the late autumn and  in the winter months when the plants go “dormant” this is when they have lost their leaves for winter ,you can buy bare rooted evergreens but I find these less easy to settle as they need more attention. These bare rooted  plants need planting quickly but grow well and can form a thick hedge in only three years.

If you want a less hedge looking hedge with a varied height To this you would need to add the cost of some special looking or feature trees or shrubs ,these can pay for themselves if you  use them as “posts” to tie chicken wire or trellis to (use ties you can change yearly so they don’t grow into the tree and damage it .These feature trees or shrubs can range from £10 each to £30 depending on the tree.

some trees and shrubs can benefit endangered species that have very specific needs butwhich can be met in small areas  eg the Hazel doormouse ,lives in hazel coppices and used honeysuckle for nesting materials .If anendangered species is being reintroduced to your area you can make a huge difference by creating a habitat for it.

“Dormice are successional feeders and require a range of foods to allow them to feed  while they are active. In spring they will feed on the flowers of oak, hawthorn, sycamore and willow and as the season progresses move onto later flowering shrubs such as honeysuckle and bramble. During the summer they take advantage of caterpillars, aphids and wasp galls and then they fatten up for hibernation on fruits and berries such as blackberries and hazelnuts.”


other trees benefit specific endangered species such as hollys ,which provides food for the holly blue butterfly .While many are beneficial to a wide range of wildlife

cherry (Prunus avium)
crab apple (Malus)
goat willow (Salix caprea)
hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
hazel (Corylus avellana)
holly (Ilex aquifolium)
mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
silver birch (Betula pendula)
spindle (Euonymus europaeus)
wild roses (Rosa)


To create a hedge.

If your starting from scratch your lucky to be able to plan and create your ideal hedge ,on the downside it will take longer to create a barrier ,though this may not need to be much longer.If you want to plant a hedge that includes slightly slow growing shrubs you can plant some short lived but fast growing shrubs such a lavatera (see above) as temporary space fillers ..In the meantime to keep animals in (or out) buy a wide roll of  plastic coated green chicken wire will provide a cheap and effective barrier.Plain uncoated chicken wire is cheaper but less sturdy and more importantly less long lasting and once it starts to rust and the links break it can give nasty scratches to humans and wildlife alike.

Do not run this chicken wire layer to ground level as this will prevent hedgehogs from getting into your garden I leave at least 10 inches above soil level as have some very large hedgehogs.



Make sure its at least 12  inches above ground level if you have cats so they can also squeeze through  if you want to prevent cats entering you can try doing this by keeping the wire lower but its unlikely to be an effective barrier against a determined cat .If like us you like us have a small dog who likes to escape you will need to put canes at intervals to stop it also getting under the fence .Not everyone may be as fond of  your pet or be happy having a muddy little dog in their garden or house

tilly dirty

Around the hedge base  if you want a better barrier you can plant some low growing shrubby plants such as heathers or slow growing  hebes at intervals .For a quick easy and cheap fix you could buy the small little roses used for bedding or as pot plants ,these will usually overwinter fine and spread to create a pretty low barrier that  you can leave gaps for the hedgehogs to get through by just cutting bits of the rose back  .Its best not to be tempted to run the chicken wire to ground level then cut holes as many hedgehogs die or are badly injured because they become entangled in garden wire.


A hedge by its very nature is a two sided  feature.If your planting at the end of your garden and it backs onto wasteland fields or other non inhabited space then the choice of trees and shrubs depends entirely on you,though if there is livestock in the fields then be careful to plant non toxic shrubs and plants as horses especially will snack on your plants.(Buckingham nurseries has a livestock friendly hedging guide and another guide can be found here   http://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/hedging/hedging-packs/hedging-plants-stock-friendly)

little wooded corner iona

However most hedges are likely to be dividing you from your neighbours either as a stand alone feature or in conjunction with pre existing fencing.Its only fair to discuss your planting plan with them .All trees and shrubs will be tall enough to create some shade while some shrubs only reach five feet in a small garden this can cast a wide shadow,Your neighbour  may lose some of their sunlight and you may affect plants they are growing  on their side of the hedge.Most importantly some shrubs have unpleasant or even dangerous side effects .Many can irritate skin ,some can produce toxic berries poisonous to pets and children ,others have be less serious problems ,many shrubs produce more plants from their roots  ,these  smaller plants that grow up to three or more feet away from the tree itself ,willow is the most serious offender but even the beautiful lilac can be a problem.Some plants are also notorious for spreading or self seeding.Loose strife ,teasels and ornamental thistles are notorious offenders.If your planning on planting anything described as “vigorous ” or has “self seeds freely” in its description its probably a good idea to check your neighbours a fan of it as its almost certainly likely to end up in their garden .

Hedges have been the cause of many disputes especially with regard to the infamous leylanddi trees and there are several laws concerning hedges


Decide on the kind of hedge you want.

The easiest hedge to create is an evergreen hedge made from traditional hedging shrubs such as privet or yew  as discussed earlier in this post .These are trimmed to the traditional rectangular hedge shape  These should be planted quite close together the planting distance will vary depending on what shrubs you choose but most nurseries have a planting guide on their site.If you need a wide hedge you could plant a double row and space the second row so that each plant is sited in the gap  between the shrubs on the first row.The most popular  easy to grow deciduous hedge is copper beech as it has interesting clour is dense and keeps some leaves through winter.The traditional hedge will need trimming at least once a year and some more .This should be done after any nests have been abandoned if you have nesting birds ,its illegal to disturb a nest or birds who are building nests .

A  traditional style evergreen hedge should be cut so it narrows slightly towards the top so that snow is less likely to lie heavily on it .Hedges such as this are more wildlife friendly than fences but provide few benefits compared to a wildlife hedge

The “fence postsand the illusion of space 

If you want a natural looking hedge rather than a traditional straight  line and straight top and sides hedge you will need to spend ,much less time cutting and tending it .It will also provide more colour and scent . For an interesting hedge its best to vary the size of the shrubs and add some trees if you have space and they wont cause too much shade to either you or your neighbours garden. This will give a varied height of planting  and make the hedge look less like a boundary. A few narrow trees  and shrubs are  a useful way to avoid adding fencing posts.To give an impression of space try adding some shrubs further forward than others to give a meandering rather than straight line or if you have to grow the hedge against an existing fence or wall  sink some garden mirrors far back into the hedge attached to the wall or fence to give the impression of a gateway


,,this “gate really is just a mirror  with wood front  it can be bought here http://www.garden-mirrors.co.uk/decorative-mirrors/Garden-Mirror-Illusion-Open-Garden-Gate.html.

smaller mirrors will give the impression of a further garden beyond



You can place a statue in front as below


or hide statues inside the hedge,


Less traditional uses for statutes can include half emerging ones



Alternatively use feature plants and trees Plant some mature shrubs or trees four to five feet apart ,trees are best and small versions of most trees can be bought if you want to include fruit trees such as apples.Flag pole cherries are an excellent choice if your planting in a medium sized garden as they give height but dont grow wide.

flag pole cherry


.Slow growing or short growing  small semi dwarf  Conifers are perfect for most gardens they are upright narrow and  easy to work around with other plants.They wont loose their leaves in winter so they give privacy  all year around .Some have aromatic foliage.Junipers are a good choice and come in all shapes and sizes.



If you plant two of these slightly further out from the rest of the hedge you can create a small hidden space for an arbour ,bench or tables.Arbours are useful for providing height and an anchoring point for chicken wire ,climbers etc,the arbour below is mine it cost only £50 pounds off ebay and  I assembled it  in approx one hour .It will eventual form part of the hedge and possibly eventualy have a mirror behind it and a climbing rose over it

garden top progress 1

You could also semi hide a fountain in your hedge,though this may take more skill as unless its self contained and solar powered  it may need to be wired in .



If you don’t want or don’t have space for mirrors ,fountains etc an excellent choice  to add interest  is to buy some “ballerina” fruit trees these are trees which have been developed to grow only straight upwards and will do so without  needing to be trimmed to shape.The maximum height for most of these trees is 6 ft  to 8ft with a spread of around 3ft.(Make sure you are not buying dwarf versions .)


You can have a whole range of these ballerina  fruit trees in a very short hedge ,plums ,apples ,cherries Its also possible to buy Espalier trees  (though they are expensive)which are pruned in assorted shapes these are perfect for hedges but to keep this shape need pruning carefully ,though you could of course just let the tree revert to a more natural shape as the hedge grows.



Ant trees will be your “feature” shrubs but they can also be  used  like an arbour to secure your chicken wire.These will cost around the same price as hedging poles  which would to have installed and maintained  ,they look much pleasanter and can if you buy ballerina trees pay for themselves within a few years  by supplying fruit .Unlike posts the amount of skills needed is zero ,dig a hole and put them in then use cable ties to secure your chicken wire to them ,these cable ties will need cutting off each year and for the first year or two replacing with new ones so they dont grow into the trees but after the second year other shrubs should be growing through the wire and it wont require any more support or the trees will be large enough for you to nail a couple of tacks into the trunks.You should treat these newly planted trees to watering when you have planted them and ideally water them if the weather is dry for the first few weeks .Its not essential but they  will settle faster and grow better if they have a helping hand.

Wire fencing

Plastic coated Wide mesh chicken wire is a good choice as its likely to be invisible after the first spring ,wide mesh wire will also allow the widest range of  birds to move around freely in the hedge .As the hedge matures a further wide mesh layer of green fencing wire  added in spring and placed across the top of the hedge pushed slightly down into foliage will provide a cat proof barrier from the ground and a magpie and crow proof layer from above protecting nesting birds ,this will look messy until the new growth starts in spring but will eventually be absorbed into the hedge. This upper layer barrier can also be used on existing hedges .The width you buy will depend on how high you need your initial barrier to be ,I bought 1.5 metre wide wire as I find it easiest to work with ,wider is harder to handle ,two runs of this width will give a high fence one width is high enough to keep most pets in ,or out

If starting from scratch or if you have existing hedges with huge gaps at ground level  such as this.

arbour Iona

You can easily add a fast growing tree such as a buddleia or lavatera .If you want to add more habitats for wildlife however  you may wish to dig out a small trench and line it with  pond liner with one or two tiny holes,,refill with a layer of soil and put a mound of  stones set well back this will give a dark damp patch for amphibians ,it may not be enough for frogs but should be ample for toads.Small or  large water features can also be partly set into Hedges.The ones below are self contained so don’t need holes digging etc but they do need a power source,while solar fountains are available these probably wont work too well in the shade of a hedge


if your keen on DIY you can try more complicated options



If you dont want a fountain you could add more wildlife habitats more easily by adding a small stone trough or barrel even an old sink ,


If doesn’t need to be the traditional Belfast sink some modern ones can also look good as they will be almost hidden by the hedge but ,make sure one side slopes slightly so anything that cant swim can get out if it falls in .

Theres a good blog here on wildlife and water features


To plant your boggy bit or to make a hedge in slightly boggy soil you can use a few assorted trees shrubs and plants .Some shrubs and trees will tolerate  slightly damp (but not boggy )soil. Alder ,willow and some species of birch all are trees that grow in damper soil but they also grow quite fast and will grow tall unless trimmed back regularly .Willows also produce suckers which means new plants will pop up feet from the original plant which may make you unpopular with neighbours.You can prevent this by covering the soil around the willow with plastic sheeting then covering it over with more soil . Smaller shrubs  that are slightly damp tolerant are Hydrangeas,Kerria and Weiglas. A small  damp area will also add to the variety of plants you can use ,wild plants such as cowslips prefer slightly damp soil.



Garden plants such as astilbe also like moist soil.



If you want to ensure this remains damp use a small piece of black pipe set into the soil .When you water the plants you can pour some water down this tube to channel water into the soil .You could also or instead  dig a similar hole  ideally with a slight incline upwards add a bottom layer of small stones ,slightly refill with soil then place a flag stone over it ,,this will give a possible hedgehog nest or hibernicula at least until roots start to impinging  on the space when it will still be useful for small mammals.

The remaining choices of planting I will discuss further on in this post

when is a hedge not a hedge ?

Hedges do not just need to  be wide and tall  dividing “fences” between gardens.In a tiny  long garden or as part of a larger garden you can create a two part hedge.Treat the garden itself as the hedging space and make two small narrow lines of shrubs either side of a narrow lawn then add taller shrubs at each end this gives all the habitats of a traditional wide hedge and the narrow strip of lawn isn’t a problem for wildlife,If you use gravel then only use small pea gravel as stone shards ,bigger chunks of gravel or slate pieces can be too sharp for hedgehogs to walk over .

All the shrubs below  short and tall are left to grow their natural height and shape with just a few branches trimmed where they are growing over the lawn.Under the shrubs there are assorted low growing dwarf shrubs and easy to care for flowering plants

middle lawn path

This effectively creating a “garden room”. If you are planting this close to a house then rather than a further side of shrubs it can be  three sided with the last side being a  deep flower bed of high perennials .This “garden room” can be seen as an interrupted hedge,with the exception of the narrow strip of lawn all the components  of a true hedge are present ,there are mature assorted flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs in a continuous run and wide range of flowering plants .In addition what cant be seen here is the flower bed is actually a rockery which contains a lot of large stones which create a haven for toads ,this is a delightful place for humans and wildlife alike

middlev lawn path towards flower bed iona

If you have a tiny garden consider it as  space to create an interrupted hedge and create a wildlife haven while also creating a delightful space that seems much larger than it is .By adding a mirror at one end you can give the illusion of further space. Ideally if your planning this type of “hedge” try to choose at least some scented plants and some evergreens ,,I would personally avoid flowering current which has a distinctive smell that not everyone finds pleasant and any thorny shrub such as pyracantha or Berberis

An espalier “hedge”

This a a project for a skilled gardener or someone keen to start gardening and willing to put in some time and effort,though compared to the time outlay on maintaining fences the time is still minimal .Its possible to plant overlapping Espaliered trees then plant climbers in between growing them around the espalier trees branches,this will not make a wide deep hedge and wont be dense but if your creating an internal hedge  or perhaps need to work around and existing wall or solid fence then this would be a good choice.I have maintained but never created espalier trees so I  will leave instructions on their creation to those gardeners more skilled than myself.



,it would also be an imaginative alternative to fixing trellis to walls.


or as a garden divider .



While creating a trellis from trees would be difficult you could achieve a similar effect by using very wide wire fencing and wrapping climbers around it.

If you want to be even more adventurous  then you could provide some shelter with a garden structure made from a tree or shrub.



Improving an existing hedge

If you are lucky enough to move into a house where there is a mature hedge full length which has only narrow gaps at ground level ,gaps  were conifers have been cut back leaving dead tall trunks.

table and seat garden

or  where the hedge is quite shallow then you have the very best of both worlds.You have mature shrubs to give height and depth but also the space to create a more low flowering and more fruitful ,wildlife friendly hedge by adding fruiting shrubs such as raspberry’s or redcurrants,you can add compact thorny shrubs such as gooseberry’s or Berberis  to make the ground level secure  from dogs and foxes (these will also be an unpleasant shock for young children so its best to plant other less thorny dwarf shrubs such as hebe or heathers in front of these if you have toddlers living with or visiting you  or the shrub is likely to spread into neighbours gardens.) Again to act as a temporary barrier use wide mesh chicken wire,,this can be attached to the shrubs using cable ties so avoiding any joinery .If you moved in late summer or in winter if you can possibly bare to  do so it best to have a summer in the house before making major planting choices rather than  planting shrubs that will clash with your colour scheme especially if you have distinctive coloured shrubs such as this pierris.

Garden  the pierris spring

Waiting will also give you an idea of times when the hedge has flowering gaps and you can choose shrubs accordingly .If like us you are lucky to live next to good neighbours this wait can be avoided as you can ask them what is in the hedge and when it flowers .As with a new or mature hedge with a gap you can add specific habitats.Though it will be easier to do this by adding height to the soil level rather than digging ,digging under mature shrubs will be hard and cause root damage.Most older hedges in houses are likely to have soil which would benefit for some compost or new soil.I usually empty old planters onto the bottoms of hedges ,this soil is usually fairly empty of most of its nutrients so it wont upset the plants who prefer poorer soil but does add texture and provide a mulch over tender perennials as winter sets in.

Planting ,choosing your shrubs.

I am not an expert in shrubs or trees so I have posted links to sites ,mostly the RHS which provide more detailed information of the shrubs below,I merely provide as full as possible guide to the choices available.

garden blush rose


All year around flowers or colour.

wildlife friendly


All year around berries

Bee and butterfly food plants

provides flowers ,seed heads or foliage for cutting to put in vases in the house.

Provides human food .

Non toxic .

There are a great many plants which will fulfil several criteria and a few which will only provide one .

I have been replanting our current garden with shrubs I made my first priority winter colour and interest ,either flowers ,berries interesting stems  or unusual shapes .I also wanted any flowering shrubs to be scented.Winter flowering shrubs are  often scented so its not as difficult as it might sound .However several of the most scented and attractive shrubs have highly poisonous berries to avoid tragedy they are best avoided if either you or your neighbour has young children or pets.Daphne Mezereum is the worst offender while also being the most beautiful and most pleasantly scented.



Holly also produces toxic berries but will only produce berries if make and female plants are grown or exist close by .Holly berries are not fatal and a large number need to be consumed to cause serious harm.


Many plants toxic to humans can be checked on the site above.

Plants toxic to pets can be checked here

for dogs




for cats here

molly 1



I have inherited gardens which contained many of these plants and my pets have never had any problems ,however I now own a spaniel which eats the most unbelievable things so I am much more careful now in my planting choices.How careful you decide to be will depend on how many pets or children visit or live with you and how likely they are to eat berries ,roots etc.


winter flowering shrubs.

Winter shrubs are  the hardest to plan and source ,Winter flowering shrubs mainly benefit humans and insects but they will often produce berries in spring which is a time when birds are raising young and most winter berries are gone.

Winter jasmine ,is a perfect addition to a hedge as its very early flowering,it has narrow thin branches and is not either invasive or space consuming.It grows fairly slowly and does not reach a very great height ,My friends 10 year old winter jasmine is 5 ft high and approx 3 feet wide but is not dense enough to block our other plants.Its fairly unexciting for most of the year so in a hedge it can merge into the background during summer and autumn .Though some are described as scented I have never noticed any particular scent

winter jasmin

Another good choice is witch hazel,these are scented ,slow growing and variety’s  can be bought which are  fairly compact.It should be noted however that it is a tree and some versions can reach upto 15 ft

witch hazle


Also winter flowering ,

sweet box  which is both evergreen and scented ,these can be cropped to stay small but most variety’s if left unchecked will still only grow up to a maximum of  6 ft .



Winter  scented  evergreen or deciduous shrubs




These are always evergreen often but not always scented ,this is a larger growing plant with quite big leaves which are slightly prickly but not as bad as holly .Its very good addition to an informal tall and wide  evergreen hedge (a losely arching high evergreen hedge can be created with laurels and mahonia .Mahonia   provides winter flowers and if you choose a scented variety very pleasant scent .Both Mahonia and Laurels need pruning rather than clipping or trimming so take longer to maintain if you plan on keeping them to a certain shape



Winter honeysuckle

winter honeysuckle

Sweet scented climber not as fast growing as the spring and summer honeysuckles.


Winter flowering dog wood ,cornus mas also called cornelian cherry.

cornus mas

and the winter flowering cherry.



Many  viburnums flower through winter and many are evergreen ,some flowers are scented.Viburnums come is assorted sizes

viburnum tinus



winter flowering evergreen and most are scented ,Daphnes are slightly harder to grow than the other shrubs ,heavy frosts can damage young shrubs .They will not thrive and may die in damp or very dry soils

Daphne bholua 'Limpsfield'

Also winter flowering are many camellias but these are often not winter hardy in some parts of the country and are not by nature hedging plants .

If your hedge is too small for winter shrubs or you want something to climb through it then there are several winter flowering clementis



Suggested planting for an easy care  short hedge,  the winter honeysuckle ,winter clementis and ,winter jasmine and one other shrub from the flowering group perhaps an evergreen such as a viburnum or if you prefer something that flowers on bare stems the cornus mas or winter sweet ,A pyracantha for winter berries .under planted with  both species of Iris ,grape hyacinths and primulas ..If you have enough space and want some interesting shrubs to provide shape and interest in winter there are several options such as the red ,black  or yellow stemmed dog woods

red yellow dogwood


These are probably not ideal for a hedge plant unless the hedge is long enough to plant at least two and has other more interesting plants such as evergreens and summer flowering shrubs as the dogwoods are fairly are unremarkable for most of the year .These would also work as mid way or end of hedge plants .

Cork screw hazels, these are again unsuitable hedging plants but a perfect shrub to create interest part way along planted well out from the main hedge or at one end of the hedge also planted far out from the main hedge,giving a focus to the end.Or plant one in front of a mirror to double the effect of the twisting branches .If you are planting an “interrupted hedge”then this would be a good plant for the end or even for in the flower bed as its slow growing.It can theoretically reach 20 ft however it takes 50 years to do so and after 25 years will only be around ten feet  and may never reach larger than 15 feet .There was a corkscrew hazel in our Pennine village which never reached more than  6ft  by approx 4 ft for the 17 years we lived there.Its a very useful plant to cut for floral arrangements  so this is a simple way to keep it under control.It is  early to mid spring flowering .

corkscrew hazel



While these are not winter flowering their buds form over winter




These grow best with support so are ideal to grown into hedges,they have quite long and sharp spines ,their name is fire thorn .they will add security as well as winter interest and food for birds.



These are a mixed blessing ,they grow quickly form a dense hedge and produce witner food for birds,they are easy to propagate from cuttings I have cut cottoneaster twigs and stuck then in the ground and a least 90 per cent take.However also spent two weeks sawing back a cottoneaster that had  gone feral and taken over an entire side of the garden it had engulfed two lilacs an elderberry and a weigla  .Cottoneaster spread quickly and easily,They  may self seed but also sucker .They are now an invasive species spread by birds to areas were they cause problems in the wild



Other invasive shrubs and plants are listed here


To complete the winter flowering phase of the hedge it would be handy to plant winter flowering primulas and perhaps pansys. Other.Other flowering plants for height are the evergreen green  winter Iris,Iris Unguicularis which grows to around 1 foot ,30 cms

iris 1


Winter Iris ,Iris  danfordiae

A dwarf iris which flowers in late winter,Iris  histrioides which flowers in January

Also worth a try are hardy cyclamen

These will  all quickly spread and create winter colour and food for bees and other insects.Spring bulbs are also best planted before the hedge becomes established.The easiest of these are daffodils both spring flowering and the miniature daffodils which often flower late winter. Daffodils  multiply quite quickly and for less than ten pounds investment you can have drifts of daffodils with enough depth to pick bunches for the house.Another great plant for hedges is the grape hyacinth which again multiplies and spreads  quickly .This can become invasive.Winter iris are also a beautiful fairly easy to grown bulb which is also scented.Snowdrops will multiply fairly quickly once established but can be harder to grow as they may not grown well or at all from bulbs ,its better to buy them “in the green” which means as plants before they die back after flowering.Though they are spring not winter flowering now would also be a good time to plant English bluebells and anemone blanda.

I hope this post has given  people some ideas on how to create a hedge or  how hedges can be adapted to different locations.

here are more helpful links

heres a guide on using rubbish such as pellets,while the example below is quite large you could use one pellet chopped up and hide it behind shrubs and it will still be invaluable.





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