Today we presented a Tudor Talk with Costume Display at Auckland Castle in the Long Dining Hall – it was an absolutely fabulous setting for my costumes.
The Long Dining Hall is a lovely room on the first floor with large windows that flooded my costume display with beautiful natural light. A perfect setting for my display which was surrounded by period portraits in an authentic setting. In terms of size, the Long Dining Room has much the same impressive proportions as the Throne Room it adjoins.The room was originally designed to be the Bishops dining room but when Bishop Trevor arrived at Auckland Castle, he extended the room in 1760 to make it into an art gallery. He was also responsible for the fine moulded ceiling which features his coat of arms in the centre. The windows to the south look towards the triple-arched entrance to the Castle and Chapel, and across the wooded valley of the Park.
My husband Mick mentioned during my talk that the Tudors/Elizabethans used a lot of pins to fasten their clothes .The stomacher on my Gold Silk Elizabeth I Gown is held in place with pins. Considering the scant current mention of pins in costume and clothing articles, it may be hard to believe how common these simple items were to the wardrobes of the Elizabethans. They were made in many sizes, from the “great verthingale pynnes” used to hold heavy skirts, to the smallest pins used to hold veils and delicate fabrics. Please find below – pin purchases for Queen Elizabeth in a six-month period:
“Item to Roberts Careles our Pynner for xviij  thousand great verthingale Pynnes xx  thowsand great Velvet Pynnes and nyne thowsande smale hed Pynnes and xix  thowsand Small hed Pynnes all of our great warderobe” (Warrant dated 20 Oct, 1565)”.
Pins were used to hold skirt flounces, farthingale boning, ruffs, cuffs, partlets, veils, jewels, and generally everything that needed to stay in place. They were carefully kept, and straightened and sharpened periodically. Pins were not left in clothing but stored in pincushions.
While Elizabeth and her Court clearly used vast quantities of pins, the lower classes would not have need quite so many to keep their simpler clothes in place, and a handful of pins would suffice to dress a working woman – hence the origin of the term – pin money. In terms of the modern-day re-enactor, a small pincushion will usually be sufficient for all but the most elaborate of outfits.
A lovely lady showed me a photograph of a very attractive costume in pale gold with a ‘stomacher’ that she had designed and created for her daughter for a ‘Tudor Day’ at school. It was a lovely costume nicely made – I must say I was most impressed!
My audience numbered over fifty people and after my talk visitors stated that it was “absolutely brilliant” and that “my depth of knowledge of both costumes and history was a credit to me”.
I have added some photographs of my husband Mick as Henry VIII standing next to the famous ‘Paradise Bed’ supposedly used by his parents King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Also included are portraits of King Henry VIII, King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York which are currently on loan. The photograph of me was courtesy of Jane Hall – thank you Jane.
If you are interested in the Tudors and history in general this exhibition is well worth a visit! I would like to thank all the staff at Auckland Castle for their help and hospitality today – I have to say we really enjoyed presenting our talk in such a beautiful venue.