Thursday, May 15, 2014

Georgian costumes at Berrington Hall

Berrington Hall, Herefordshire (c) Joanna Maitland

Berrington Hall in Herefordshire is a gem of a house designed by Henry Holland with gardens by Capability Brown. It is really worth a visit, perhaps for those on the way to the RNA Conference in Telford in the second week of July.

Berrington Hall, grounds with lake (c) Joanna Maitland

This year, Berrington Hall is really pushing the boat out for visitors who are interested in the Georgian Period.

Berrington has a fantastic costume collection of its own but this summer, there are additions. From now until the end of June, there's an exhibition of costumes from the film The Duchess.

Embroidered waistcoat (c) Joanna Maitland
Also from now till the end of June, you can see how Georgian gentlemen dressed and behaved. There's an exhibition of gentlemen's waistcoats and accessories and I can guarantee that embroidery lovers will be amazed at the stunning workmanship (workwomanship?) on the waistcoats. They are absolutely beautiful and my photo does not begin to do justice to this one.

If you're lucky enough to be able to visit on 14th or 15th June, you can also see how gentlemen settled their differences. In other words - duelling - whether with swords or pistols.

On various dates in the second half of June there are also carriage displays including driving.

Then, in July and August - more convenient for those going to the RNA conference - there is an exhibition called "Big Bottoms and Small Waists". Not my title, I assure you!

It is, as you'll have guessed, an exhibition of undergarments. Fascinating and maybe even a little risqué.

Berrington hall, rear courtyard (c) Joanna Maitland

Details of Berrington Hall are here and details of the events and timings are here. I do hope you will find time to go. It is a magical house.  Complete with resplendent guardian in the rear courtyard.

Courtyard guardian in full fig!  (c) Joanna Maitland

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Helena said...

Lovely house, beautiful garden, AND interesting exhibitions! Wonderful.

Joanna Maitland said...

Thanks for dropping by, Helena. Hope you have a chance to see the exhibitions.

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

What a lovely place, Joanna. And that cedar of Lebanon is fantastic!

As for the underwear exhibition, am I right in thinking that neither sex wore underpants/knickers? I'm sure I read that men just tucked their shirt tails round their nether regions.

Joanna Maitland said...

Good question, Elizabeth. I'm pretty sure that women didn't wear knickers during the Georgian period and indeed into the first part of the Regency period.

I'm less sure about the men, who were wearing underpants (I think) before women did. My history of underclothes (Cunnington) has men wearing draweers in the 18th century and also in the 17th (with references to Charles II and Samuel Pepys).

Drawers (knee length) for women seem to have become fashionable in about 1806 when cotton drawers were advertised for 3/9 a pair, but "worth 5/-"!

Pantaloons/pantalettes for women were later, and reached to below the calf. I seem to recall that Princess Charlotte horrified some older ladies by showing hers in a hoydenish fashion.

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I think you must be right. Joanna. The men must surely have worn something in the way of drawers - just think how itchy their breeches/pantaloons/trousers or whatever would have been otherwise.