Monday, April 03, 2006
All the Fun of the Napoleonic Fair
It was up at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning to drive from Yorkshire to St Albans in Hertfordshire for the International Napoleonic Fair. Kate Allan, Fenella-Jane Miller, and Louise Allen and I were there to fly the flag for UK Regency Authors with our own stand in the lower foyer of the Alban Arena. It looked very impressive, with an array of our own books, period bric- a – brac and Louise's display of costume prints and books – just to see a copy of La Belle Assemblée with its beautifully drawn gowns was worth the 200-mile drive for me! To add the finishing touch, Kate Allan was wearing her fabulous Regency dress and bonnet - unfortunately she escaped when we were taking photographs, so I have only a photo of Louise and myself to adorn this blog! However, I am sure that much better photos will appear shortly, so watch this space.
We all managed to slip away to explore the Fair: it's a very strange experience to be wandering around the Alban Arena, a late twentieth century building, surrounded by soldiers and ladies in early nineteenth century dress. Those of us not in costume were in the minority! There were stands from re-enactment societies (in the centre of the hall, where they had formed square), the Sharpe Appreciation Society, cloth sellers with a wonderful array fabrics – wool in bright red and forest green for uniforms, heavy black for greatcoats and beautiful thin silk-like materials for gowns. On the large stage were huge tables laid out with battle scenes of Waterloo and Trafalgar etc and upstairs a seated area was set aside for talks, including one from our own Louise Allen on costume research from the novelist's point of view.
I had a wonderful time, met lots of interesting people, could have spent a small fortune on everything from DVDs to reproduction riding boots and came away at 4 p.m. tired but enthusiastic about the amount of interest in the Napoleonic era.