We recently visited the Barley Hall in York – it is located near York Minster.
A new exhibition, called ‘Power & Glory’, is situated on the first floor of the Barley Hall and includes a costume display. They include a outfit worn by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as King Henry VIII in the recent TV Series ‘The Tudors’, as well the costume worn by Charlotte Rampling as Anne Boleyn in the film ‘Henry VIII and His Six Wives’ and others from TV dramas over the last last 50 years. They also include one of Keith Mitchell’s fabulous costumes from the BBC TV series in 1970 called ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’.
The BBC’s ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ became a feature film – ‘Henry VIII and his Six Wives’ which was released in 1972. It starred Keith Michell, Charlotte Rampling, Jane Asher, Michael Gough and Brian Blessed. Costumes were designed by John Bloomfield. Keith Michell once again played King Henry with Charlotte Rampling as Anne Boleyn. Bernard Hepton repeated his role on TV as Archbishop Cranmer and Donald Pleasance played Thomas Cromwell. Despite having larger budget, the movie was not as successful as the TV series.
Above is a spectacular costume worn by Charlotte Rampling as Anne Boleyn in the 1970 film – Henry VIII and His Six Wives. I remember this costume from the exciting scene showing Anne Boleyn taking part in a masque at court while Henry VIII watches. He is now tiring of Anne and spies quiet Jane Seymour. Anne is wearing a Gold/Orange Brocade skirt with matching sleeves.
The attractive sleeves are embellished with strips of gold braid sewn in a spiral from top to bottom and finished with a brown satin cuff. Her bodice is front fastening and fastens with either hooks and eyes or metal rings . It has been designed in burgundy velvet and is trimmed with gold braid and set with gold buttons and jewels. The buttons have been quite cheaply made of gold roman rings glued with pearls and beads however unless you are very close they certainly look like jewelled buttons when seen on the big screen!
Underneath the gown is worn a fine partlet of white net or muslin sewn with gold embroidery. Over the dress a long black velvet robe lined in black satin is worn tied by a black ribbon at the front. It has short puffed and ruched sleeves which are pulled in by gold cord ties.
There is also gold lattice trim along the collar and down the front. After watching the scene again I noticed that Anne’s velvet over robe worn in the film was sleeveless and also had a superb over ornate and very stylish gold embroidered and gold meshed collar on the robe set with pearls and jewels so I don’t think this was the robe worn in the film with this gown. Her pewter necklace is created of cabochons set with pearl stones.
On her head she wears a very strange ‘masquerade’ headdress – it looks like it has been inspired by an eastern turban – she mentions in the film that she is ‘Queen of a dark land’ where she has been ‘scorched by the hot sun’. It has been created from a crescent shaped piece of buckram possibly edged with wire and then padded – then covered with gold fabric and gold mesh – it has pearl trim at the front edge and is set with a ruby brooch.
It has also been edged with wire and beads to create a type of ‘crown’. The hair is covered at the back by a velvet bag which has a lattice work of gold braid caught at intervals with pearl/ruby gold buttons.
It is a very different costume to the usual Tudor outfits worn at court as it was a ‘masquerade costume’ as opposed to ‘ordinary’ dresses worn at court at the time. However I do like it and it certainly looks spectacular in the film!I also think Charlotte Rampling made a superb Anne Boleyn.
Above is a sumptuous costume for Henry VIII – it was worn by my favourite actor in the role -Australian actor Keith Michell in the BBC series the ‘Six Wives of Henry VIII’ released in 1970. I really loved this TV series and thought the costumes were amazing!Keith Michell portrayed King Henry VIII more than forty years ago. He presented the King in six plays written by different playwrights and in my opinion did an excellent job. It is interesting to note that the 44 year old Keith portrayed Henry from the ages of 17 to 56. Keith then played Henry VIII again in the TV series Prince and Pauper in 1996 when he was seventy years old!
As Henry Keith Michell would wear a fine shirt of white cotton linen first – it has a small pie-crust collar frill and fastens at the front by a cord – the frill of the cuff is just visible below his doublet sleeves.
Over the shirt he wears a gold taffeta silk doublet – It has been ‘slashed’ –(that is to say cut) at intervals to create ‘puffs’ of white silk fabric pulled out from the garment beneath. The gold taffeta looks like it has been either been embroidered by hand in gold thread, machine stitched or possibly couched (oversewn ) with thick gold piping to create a fabulous Tudor pattern. I love the effect.
I think the white silk fabric has been sewn to the edges of the slashes to keep it in place while being worn. It also has sumptuous gold metal medallions which are set with glittering glass stones and pearls sewn at intervals to decorate the body and the sleeves of the doublet. It took Henry’s servants two hours to dress him in the morning – the white fabric had to be pulled through all the slashes in the doublet body and sleeves.
The doublet and sleeves have been padded with wadding to create the correct Tudor ‘square shape’ for men. Over the doublet Henry would wear a jerkin. The body of the jerkin has been cut in brown velvet and trimmed with matching brocade trim. The skirt of the jerkin is cut in sections and hand pleated onto the body. It has been designed in both brown velvet and a darker coloured velvet. The body of the jerkin is cut with the typical ’U’ shaped front which can be seen in many portraits of King Henry. The jerkin is finished off with a white satin ribbon around the waist.
On top of the doublet and jerkin he wears a robe. Henry’s heavy robe has been made from heavy black and brown brocade fabric – it could have possibly have been made a heavy furnishing fabric or curtain fabric. The sleeves have been lined with wadding and gathered at the top and bottom to create the large ‘puffed’ effect, this type of sleeve was very popular at the court of Henry VIII and can be seen in many portraits of the period.
The robe sleeves have been slashed to show a lightweight net fabric pulled though to create a ‘puff’effect – sadly most of this delicate fabric has now disintegrated however you can still see the gold buttons and gold cord which decorate the slashing. The gold buttons on the taffeta sleeves if you look closely have been made from a gold ring with fabric glued over the top and sewn with glass beads and jewels – sadly some of the jewels have gone- not surprising as the costume is over 45 years old. I did however think it looked good on screen in it’s day – which is what matters most!
Henry wears a gold medallion around his neck, period rings and a Tudor style dagger around his waist. The Collar of Office also known as a Chain of State is worn over his robe. The chain was probably inspired by a portrait of him painted by Hans Holbein. It has been made from gold pendants and gold filigree pieces in different shades of gold (the original gold paint may however have worn off over time and it may have all been the same colour when it was made).) It is set with stones, pearls and beads. On closer inspection the pieces are separate and can be seen to be mounted on a double gold metal trim/chain to link together to create the Collar or Chain of Office – it certainly is a collar fit for a King!
On his feet Henry wears the decorative Tudor shoes seen in many portraits of the period – they are bar shoes made of black leather or velvet and decorated with gold filigrees and gold piping. I think they were originally set with jewels however some have been lost. They are worn with white hosen or stockings. I mustn’t forget Henry’s codpiece – it has been made of a gold brocade and has been stiffened with buckram or glue to create the desired shape – it would normally be padded, however this one is hollow – still it looks the part. I couldn’t see how it was attached on this particular costume although I know they were usually attached by ties to the front of the breeches.
He is wearing a Knight of the Garter below his knee – it has been created in blue velvet and embroidered with gold and crystals. The Most Noble Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry, or knighthood, originating in medieval England. It is beautifully made and is embroidered with the order’s motto Honi soit qui mal y pense “shame on him who thinks evil of it”) in gold lettering.
Henry’s hat was called a bonnet. It has been made from heavy black velvet. A brim has been cut out of buckram and hand stitched around the edge with wire. The bonnet was then covered in black velvet and embellished with small gold chains, pearls and jewels. A white feather sewn to the brim completes the bonnet. An amazing costume worn by a fabulous actor.
Below is a costume worn by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII – from The Tudors (2007-2010) Showtime US. The series starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Natalie Dormer, Maria Doyle, Sam Neill and Maria Doyle Kennedy. This series wasn’t very well received by critics as it wasn’t particularly accurate in it’s historical events or characters. For example , King Henry VIII had two sisters Margaret the elder who married the King of Scootland and his younger sister Mary who married the King of France. In the series they became one composite sister Margaret who married the King of Portugal!
Personally I found the costumes not period correct either but they were still gorgeous to look at and if the series is taken as a Tudor Soap Opera rather than an accurate historical series it was hugely enjoyable! This doublet , beeches and sleeveless robe worn by Jonathan in the Tudors will perfectly illustrate my point. The costume was beautifully constructed in purple and gold fabric.The tunic has a high standing collar, long sleeves and shoulder wings and was created in rich purple taffeta – it is also lavishly decorated with gold/black piping. The front of the tunic has be made of a very attractive iridescent blue/purple padded fabric trimmed with black/gold cord and fastens down the front.
A cream linen or cotton shirt with gold embroidery is worn under the tunic – you can just see it peeping out under the high collar of the tunic and it is also visible at the wrists. The breeches are knee length and match the tunic. Over the tunic is a fabulous full length sleeveless robe made of a rich gold and purple brocade fabric – it has a an amazing padded and curled collar which is piped with gold/purple trim in a spiral design – there is also piping on the seams. Not particularly accurate but gorgeous nevertheless!
The back of the robe is beautifully constructed – it almost looks like the back of an 18th century frock coat! In my opinion the costume certainly isn’t period correct – the doublet isn’t the right Tudor shape – it is too short and the trousers are more like a style of knee breeches worn by Charles I. The robe also looks a bit like like something out of ‘Lord of the Rings’ rather than a Tudor portrait nevertheless it is very stylish, beautifully made and is certainly a costume for King as long as historical accuracy doesn’t bother you too much!
The dress below is based on a portrait supposed to be of Henry VIII’s fifth Queen Catherine Howard – in which she wears a black dress and a French hood. Catherine Howard has been played on screen by Tamzin Merchant (The Tudors 2010), Emily Blunt (Henry VIII 2003) and Lynne Frederick (Henry VIII and his Six Wives 1972).
This gown was designed by Angels Costumiers as part of a display of costumes at Hever Castle in Kent. It has been on show with five other gowns – inspired by his other wives. Hever Castle in Kent as it happens was the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn and when she was executed it was given to Anne of Cleves his fourth wife as a present after they divorced.
This black duchess satin gown is similar to the dress worn by Angela Pleasance as Catherine Howard in the 1969 television series ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ – I remember watching her wear it when I was a child of 12 years – I loved it! I mentioned the gown is based on a portrait believed to be of Catherine Howard wearing a black gown. the costume is the typical Tudor shape – a square neck bodice with a full skirt – open at the front to show the black velvet underskirt (or forepart).
The sleeves are gathered at the shoulder and taper to the wrist – they are slashed that is to say the seam is open at the front and the rich gold/black brocade of the underneath is clearly visible – the fabric is tied together at intervals by ties with gold aglets.
Over her neck and shoulders she wears a pretty black velvet partlet that is lined with white cotton or linen. The sleeves of the linen chemise are visible below the wrist and are prettily stitched with blackwork embroidery which was very popular during the Tudor period.
On the head is a French Hood – the base would be made of buckram and sewn with wire around the edge to form the correct crescent shape. It would then be covered with fabric and decorated.
This hood has been covered in white satin, edged with gold lace at the front and has a billiment (beaded trim) created by threading gold tube beads onto wire – bending into shape and sewing around the edge. the hood also has a bag of black velvet sewn at the back which would cover the hair.
Her jewellery consists of a gold tassel and bead girdle around her waist worn with a collar made of gold cabochons and pearls.
I remember this costume in the TV series and it looked great however was a bit disappointed when I saw this copy in the exhibition. It didn’t look like the costume I remembered at all however in all fairness it is probably quite old. Nevertheless it is still pretty and gives a flavour of Catherine Howard.
The Costume below was worn by Annette Crosbie as Catherine of Aragon in the 1970 BBC series ‘Six Wives of Henry VIII’. The first episode introduces Catherine of Aragon. It tells the story of her marriage to Henry VIII’s older brother Arthur and following his death, her marriage to Henry himself. Moments of great joy (when Henry VIII asks her marry him) are juxtaposed with moments of great sadness (when her infant son dies) – it is a wonderful episode full of emotion.
Catherine of Aragon’s gown lacked the elegance and style of Anne Boleyn nevertheless this is still an attractive costume worn by Catherine in her youth when she had just arrived from Spain. The dress is high waisted and created in brown cotton velvet – it has been sprayed with paint (over a cut out patterned template I think) to give it a pattern and more depth and richness as the budget for the TV series was very tight – I think all lot more money is provided today to dress the current lavish costume dramas such as The Tudors!
The velvet dress is back laced with a black cord and the skirt is gathered onto the bodice – it has a length of lace sprayed gold and appliquéd to the bodice to make the bodice of the dress appear richer. Catherine wears a pewter and pearl necklace in the Tudor style.
It has a lovely square cut neckline made from brown mesh fabric which is appliquéd with pearls and silver rings set with opal coloured glass jewels. If you look closely one of the jewels is missing, forgiveable when the costume is over 45 years old!
The under sleeves are quite tight fitting – a short sleeve over a longer sleeve. The short sleeve matches the underskirt and has a gold lace trim. The longer straight sleeve underneath has been created in black silver brocade. There is also a brown velvet over/hanging sleeve attached and gathered at the shoulder – they are piped with cord to match the underskirt. A pretty little chemise frill can be seen peeping out from above the neckline – the fabric is probably fine linen or cotton.
The front of the skirt splits to reveal a black/silver brocade underskirt – it has been made from stripes of silver and black glittery fabric sewn together- there is also a nice trimming on the sides of the split – a ribbon trim with scraps of gold guipure lace glued on with various beads and pearls- it does however show some wear as the beads have lost most of their opalescence.
The under sleeves are quite tight fitting – a short sleeve over a longer sleeve. The short sleeve matches the underskirt and has a gold lace trim. The longer straight sleeve underneath has been created in black/silver brocade. There is also a brown velvet over or hanging sleeve attached and gathered at the shoulder – they are piped with cord to match the underskirt. A pretty little chemise frill can be seen peeping out from above the neckline – the fabric is probably fine linen or cotton.
The costume is topped by a Spanish Style headdress. It has been made of a circle of brocade fabric in black and silver fabric which may match the long under sleeves – it has been padded and covered with silver ribbons appliquéd with large pearls. It looks like the headdress was held on by beige trim criss crossed at the centre and stitched to the edges (the beige lace looks suspiciously like elastic however I may be wrong)!
It is obvious close up that this costume has certainly been made on a budget and if you look closely all lot of the decoration is glued together- but on the TV screen it did it’s job and Catherine looked still like a Spanish Princess! I have watched the film version of the TV series recently and I think the same costume with the addition of silver trimming under the bust was worn by Frances Cuka as Catherine of Aragon in the film version – have a look yourself!
The costume below based on an outfit worn by Patrick Troughton as the Duke of Norfolk in ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ (1970). Patrick’s was a wonderful portrayal of this self-seeking Duke who twisted, turned and lied to keep the favour of King Henry VIII, successfully managing to outlive him! If you have ever seen the painting of the real Duke of Norfolk you will be struck by the resemblance he has to Patrick Troughton. By the way Benard Hepton who played Cranmer both in the film and TV series also has a striking resemblance to portrait of Archbishop Cranmer whom he portrayed!
Patrick Troughton played the Duke of Norfolk in the Six Wives of Henry VIII alongside Keith Michell as King Henry. The copy of his costume here consists of a linen shirt with ties and pie-crust frilled collar – the sleeve frills can also be seen at the wrist. A velvet tunic is tied at the neck and down the front by matching cords finished with aglets (metal tips).
Worn over the tunic tunic is a red satin doublet with long sleeves. The sleeves and front of the doublet have slashings to show the cloth of pink/silver brocade pulled out from underneath – they are also decorated with nice period pewter buttons. The doublet fastens with hooks and eyes and has a black trim around the edges.
I think the slashing have been secured by hand by tiny stitches in matching thread. A heavy red wool Tudor robe lined with satin is worn over the doublet. It has a beautiful fur collar than extends down the front full length – the fur on the sleeves is tied down the arm on the outside with brown cord ties.
His breeches or slops (the trouser equivalent of the day) are knee length in a type of dark purple/black fabric possibly a cotton damask or fine wool and slashed to show the brocade beneath. There is a lovely collar or chain of office with a beautiful gold coloured St George and the Dragon pendant in the centre – it shows The Duke of Norfolk was one of the highest ranking men in the land. The costume is topped off by a dark cotton velvet bonnet.
The costume below is based on an outfit worn by Orson Welles in a ‘Man for All Seasons’ (1966) directed by Fred Zinneman. The film starred Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw, Leo McKern, Susannah York, Nigel Davenport, John Hurt and Corin Redgrave with costume design by Joan Bridge and Elizabeth Haffenden. ‘A Man for All Seasons’ told the story of Sir Thomas More – a famous Catholic who stood against King Henry VIII in his quest to marry Anne Boleyn. More was finally found guilty of treason and beheaded in the Tower of London. Orson Welles played Cardinal Wolsey the Chancellor of England who lost favour with Henry VIII because he failed to secure a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Orson at this time was an actor in his prime and he was splendid as the self seeking and power hungry Cardinal who was without scruples.
It was great to see a costume based on outfits worn in the film ‘A Man for All Seasons’ particularly as I have never seen any costumes from this particular film. It was also fabulous to see a robe similar to the one worn by the great man himself Orson Welles. I could never forget his portrayal of the all ready doomed Cardinal Wolsey in this film. His Cardinals robe has been created from a very bright red figured taffeta with long cuffed sleeves and a caped collar. It looks like the edges have been piped and finely sewn by hand by hand. Underneath his robe he wears a shirt made of fine linen which has ruffles,a black ribbon trim and button at the wrists. it was worn with a red felt Cardinals hat and a pair of matching red suede shoes. The front of the costumes is fastened by gold filigree beads and loops on the upper part (capelet) – the rest of the gown is fastened with red fabric covered buttons and buttonholes. It is quite a simple costume but the colour of the fabric really makes it stand out – it has been beautifully made and crafted. It certainly does it job in making the character of the Cardinal easily recognisable.
I really enjoyed the Exhibition. The costumes all within the Tudor period were so different in quality and workmanship. Some are quite new and others have been around a lot longer. As I am a designer myself I could tell which costumes had a larger budget for the fabrics and a longer time scale for construction. I think a lot of money was spent on the Henry VIII costume for Rhys Meyers and next to nothing at all on the Catherine of Aragon costume worn by Annette Crosbie. It is interesting to note however that probably one of the oldest costumes – King Henry VIII worn by Keith Michell in 1970 is still in such good condition! Nevertheless all the costumes in the display gave a favour of the period and aided in the rich characterisations which are so important for actors in period dramas. It was just wonderful to see up close how they were made. I would certainly recommend the the Barley Hall in York to see this Exhibition – the costumes are great fun and the staff lovely!