Thursday, October 1, 2009

Trip to England - Part 5

Well, I hope these posts aren't getting too tedious! I was kind of relying on the hope that they were "one thing very interesting" as putting out 2 "moderately" interesting posts a day would be about more than I could do! ;-)

Tuesday started out cloudy with a chance of rain, so my hopes to wear historical clothing to Kensington Palace were put aside for another day. That turned out to be a good idea as it rained steadily for most of the day. I do have to say though, the weather during our trip was superb and definitely not normal! Tuesday was the only day we had ANY rain and we always had warm, but not hot (yay!) days! We truly were blessed!!

On our way to the Palace, we walked past lots of streets filled with houses like these. This is most definitely a favorite style of mine!

Kensington Palace from the side

Princess Victoria's bedroom- where on June 20, 1837, she awoke to the news that she was to be Queen.

The Red Gallery. Actually, I just made that up. I forget what it's called, but I think it was something like that!

Just looked it up: It's really the Kings Gallery. Bummer.

Kensington Palace was lovely, featuring historical rooms, a display of Princess Diana's dresses (yawn!), and a few Court Dress ensambles. Below is one of the latter:

This also had matching breeches and a waistcoat, but those pictures were too blurry for publicity... Once again, if Lindsay got better pictures of them, I'll be sure to update this post.


This outfit was embroidered (as was usual for this period), but this time with ribbon embroidery! I was very excited, as ribbon embroidery is so much faster than regular, and I had yet to see a historical garment from this period with it. The design is so simple, yet makes a big impact from a distance. I also like the added textural interest as well...

After touring the Palace, we went to the Orangery for a delightful and delicious lunch! Jennie had arranged for Cathy Hay (of Your Wardrobe Unlock'd) to come as our guest speaker. Cathy also shared a recent project of hers: a Worth gown that she recreated! Cassie was fortunate enough to model it for us, so we got to see all the beautiful underthings and get the full picture. I had been following the construction of this dress online for several months, so it was a delight to see it (and touch it! :-) ) in person! The pictures really don't do it justice....

In the Orangery. This was such a beautiful room! Airy and simple (all white) and yet very detailed. (just look at that trim and those pillars!) I wouldn't mind having a room like this in my house.... ;-)

Our adorable centerpieces!

Cassie in the stunning dress. Of course, it does look better without the blue shirt underneath, but the lack of changing rooms being what they are in the Orangery.... ;-)

Just look at all of us admiring all of the months of handwork that went into the oak leaf decorations! Truly an inspiration...

And us with Cathy (L) and Suzi (R).

After Kensington, we all braved the elements and trooped off to the Museum of London. We had an appointment with the costume curator, and she agreed to show several items in their collection of 25,000 (!!) to us. (Just think of that! 25,000. *sigh* What a job!) While the first half went downstairs, the rest of us explored the museum. Now, it might be overly obvious to some, but I thought the Museum of London would be a museum IN London, not a museum OF London. But museum OF London it most certainly was! They had artifacts of London from Roman times up which were certainly impressive, just not quite what we were expecting.... After looking all through it for a clothing exhibit (they don't have one now as they're in the midst of a big remodel), I did find a few things of interest, but I must admit that I was disappointed. Oh, and did I mention that it's a museum most definitely geared toward kids? When our turn arrived to go behind the scenes, we were able to enjoy the delights of a pair of lovely 1780's stays, a pair of doll's regency stays (a beautiful dark brown with contrast stitching and embroidery!), an embroidered muslin 1780's dress, a bonnet of Queen Victoria's (lovely 1840's with beautiful coral ribbon!), and several others. The only downside of this all is that I am unable to put any of the pictures online..... ;-( So, the short story of the Museum of London is: don't go (at least before the remodel) unless you can get an appointment with the costume curator!

Aylwen (one of the ladies who went with us) was able to arrange a visit to Meg Andrews' house to view her current collection of antique clothing, so we headed off for her house with Aylwen and Elizabeth. After arriving too early, we went to some nearby grocery stores to while away the time, and stay out of the rain. You remember how I said it rained that day? Well, it still was, and our shoes were soaked. :-) We've found that grocery stores give you a feel of the average inhabitant very well, and we always find it interesting to see what British people eat. :-) First off, their potato chips, er, I mean crisps have very weird flavors. Like "Prawn", or "Ready Salted". (we later found out that this is because some crisps come un-salted, with a mini packet of salt!) Also, they take their cream WAY too seriously. There was Single Cream, Double Cream, Extra-Thick Single Cream, Extra-Thick Double Cream, Pouring Cream, Whipping Cream, and many more! I mean, really, what's the difference between "Extra-Thick Single Cream" and "Double Cream"? Except of course the label....

When we went back to Meg's, she very graciously served us tea (which very much helped us feel warmer! ;-) ) before we dug in! I can't say enough how gracious and helpful she was! We were able to look at and examine her garments inside and out! She had everything from a piece of 17th cen. embroidery to a gorgeous blue silk 1770s polonaise (in remarkable condition!) to men's vests and waistcoats to a late 1830s day dress to a striking and one-of-a-kind Regency open robe to the most gorgeous embroidered wool shawls to pristine toddler Regency gowns! This was without a doubt on of the major highlights of the trip! Meg was so friendly and personable, she let us stay late just ohhing and ahhing over all of her things! Thank you so much Meg!! :-)

Next up- Our charming day in Greenwich, and the morning that almost ruined it all! (Now if that isn't a suspenseful synopsis....)


  1. I am really enjoying your posts! When I travel, I like to visit grocery stores and buy a local newspaper because that gives a good idea of the people and the area. Strange, I know. ;) And I'm living in Australia now which is the Land of Weird Potato Chips. Don't get me started! And I laughed about the cream varieties...same here. It's all delicious.

  2. All this period clothing is so beautiful. It puts today's styles to shame. My daughter and I were just discussing yesterday how sloppy looking our society has become.


  3. Oooooohhhh..... I am so so struggling with envy. What a glorious time you all must have had!

    Thanks for sharing all of the details with us, and I am loving the pics too.

    Lily, I have to say, I really like your hats- I'd love to find some little close-fitting ones similar to the ones I see you and your mama wearing. I cover also, and although I am contented with the simple white prayer covers I make, something like your hats would be nice for a change. Did you make them? Are they vintage? enquiring minds;)

  4. Tedious? Dear me! Have no fear, these posts are far from it (to me at least!).

    The "Red Gallery" looks very Austenesque. :-) I can see why you would have wanted to dress up to go there (if I was in England I would probably want to dress up every day...)

    And I LOVE the Orangery - so bright and airy! I noticed on Mrs. Chancey's England blog that you went to multiple orangeries... do you know if this is a term used for a type of room, or...?

    Who knew there could be so many kinds of cream? :-)

  5. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the comment! Glad to know you find humor in grocery stores too! :-)


    Thank you, we really like our hats, too. :-) The straw one Mom wore in England is from Truly Victorian but my white hat and the gray wool felt ones we wear in winter are vintage. We have had some good luck with eBay, and some bad... It is very helpful to find a selection of hats somewhere if you can, so that you can find what is flattering and what you actually like once it's on your head! Most of our trouble with online ordering has been that we either get the wrong size (apparently, our heads run larger than normal! Be sure to check the listing) or they just plain aren't as cute when we put them on. That's always disappointing... :-/ Learning to make hats like this would be so useful, but we haven't yet attained that level... ;-)


    Good! I'm glad you're still interested... ;-)

    As for dressing up every day, it did sound tempting, but as we had tons of walking planned into each day and I find that wearing running shoes with Regency dresses ruins the mood a bit, I decided against it. I also didn't want my dresses to get ruined, what with all the cramped quarters and escalators at tube stations.... As it was, the one day I wore historical in London, I came back with a very dirty hem! Not quite "6 inches deep in mud!", but still.... :-D

    Well, judging only by appearances, there most certainly was a difference between the 2 orangeries (Kensington and the Fan Museum). Kensington definitely had the feel of a "real" orangery (or at least as "real" as a monarch's can be!) whereas the FM's seemed more like an affectation. I found this on Kensington's site:

    "The building, which was built by Queen Anne, was supposed to serve as greenhouse for over-wintering exotic plant and citrus trees that ornamented the gardens in summer. Its accomplished interior decoration reflects the Orangery’s other uses as a ‘summer supper house’ and a place for entertainment."

    As for the FM, the museum is located in 2 combined Georgian townhouses, making it very unlikely to be original. As for why they call it an Orangery, it's probably just a marketing help, honestly! :-)

    I hope that helped a bit! So looking forward to seeing you all in 3 weeks!! Are you going to come down for Fri., too?


  6. Thank you for the enlightenment, Lily. I figured it had something to do with growing exotic plants. I doubt it would be easy to find a house in America with an orangery when I get married, huh? *grin*

    I'm getting sooo excited to come down and see you all again. I'm really hoping to come Friday too but it hasn't been confirmed what the official plan is...