Yesterday we presented a Regency Talk with Costume Display at Kedleston Hall in Derby.
Kedleston Hall is a beautiful large Georgian stately home administered by the National Trust. It a fabulous building with wonderful grounds which include a water feature and a beautiful bridge. It was perfectly suited as the setting for my new talk ‘Enter the World of Jane Austen’. We presented our lecture in the lovely ground floor hall next to a roaring log fire – what a beautiful room – it really added to the period atmosphere.
The major film The Duchess starring Keira Knightley with Ralph Fiennes and Charlotte Rampling, was also shot at Kedleston.
My talk was part of the Lunch lectures which are presented at 11 am followed by a wonderful lunch with wine in the kitchen/dining room nearby. After the talk we were very cordially invited to join the other guest for luncheon in the period dining room – such kind hospitality!
I don’t normally have a lot of gentlemen attending my lectures however there were quite a few in attendance at Kedleston Hall. A couple of them admitted to me afterwards that they had been brought by their wives under sufferance however they said surprisingly (for them) that they really enjoyed my talk – high praise indeed!
As most of my regency costumes were worn with fans I mentioned the role of the fan to convey messages.
-Putting the fans to the lips means I would like to kiss you
– Placing the fan next to the chest means you have won my heart.
A very jovial gentleman accompanied by his wife merrily quipped ‘how do I convey the message with a fan to tell my wife to be quiet’ – I explained I’m sorry I don’t know that one!
Staff at Kedleston asked if they were allowed to touch my Regency costumes – of course we were happy to let them do so!
Mrs Garrett, was Head Housekeeper at Kedleston in 1745 to Nathaniel Curzon and had many tales to tell of life in Derby in the 18th Century. She is brought to life for visitors at Kedleston by a number of volunteers dressed in period costume. As a new costume is required I viewed the portrait of Mrs Garret currently on display at Kedleston and was asked for advice regarding the fabric/patterns and construction – I was happy to help and pleased to be asked. I was promised a picture of the new costume when completed.
I also viewed the shimmering “peacock dress” worn by Curzon’s wife, Mary at the 1903 Coronation Durbar in Delhi it is part of a collection of imperial souvenirs included in Kedleston’s Eastern Museum.
All the guest really enjoyed my talk and asked a lot of questions after wards they included — What is a pelisse? and What is sprigged muslin?
I explained that sprigged muslin is a white lightweight fabric decorated with sprigs of embroidery very popular during the Regency period and that a pelisse was a long cloak or an outer robe worn during the time of Jane Austen.
A lovely lady from Sunderland said she really enjoyed the talk and hopes we will return to present our ‘Tudor Talk’ as part of the lecture lunches.
We would like to thank Crag and the lovely ladies at Kedleston who helped us set up and dismantle the display. We would also like to thank them for their kind hospitality and to say it was a pleasure to meet you all.
I really hope we can return to Kedleston again.