Majesty at St Mary’s


Queen Jane Seymour

Queen Jane Seymour

Majesty At St Mary’s Heritage Centre

How often did 16th Century courtiers bathe?

Bathrooms were very rare in Tudor houses. On average Tudors took a full bath about twice a year. Rich Tudors probably washed quite often using a bowl of water, soap and a cloth – there are lots of recipes for soaps of various sorts! A poor Tudor who could not get clean water probably hardly ever washed!

Were Tudor corsets comfortable?

There are several myths about wearing corsets, many of which spring from Victorian corsetry rather than Elizabethan. In the 16th century, the corset was not meant to draw in the waist and create an hourglass figure; rather, it was designed to mold the torso into a cylindrical shape, and to flatten and raise the bustline. Another common myth revolves around the horrible discomfort of corsets. This, too, stems from the tightly-laced waists of the 19th century; the corset worn in Elizabethan England, when fitted and laced correctly, is quite comfortable. Some well-endowed women consider them more comfortable than modern underwire bras, and many people with back problems have remarked how much a boned-tab Elizabethan corset feels like a supportive back brace.

King Henry meets his people

King Henry meets his people

Did they wear underwear?

Tudor women did not wear knickers or bras, their underwear consisted of a linen smock and a woman would own enough smocks to last her a week. Heavy gowns could not be washed, and were beaten, so smocks were the pieces of an outfit that could be washed and they protected gowns from sweat and skin oils.

How did Tudor ladies manage to go to the lavatory

I believe that they simply hitched them up around their waists. In the past, women did not always wear drawers so the process was much simplified. Hooped dresses are not the problem they appear; in fact when, many years ago, toilet calls were actually easier than in a modern long dress; the hoops lift up, ballooning forward from the lady as she sits, so that there is no need to crumple fabric around the waist.

After the Show meeting visitors

After the Show meeting visitors

It was mentioned to me by one of team that a lady stated ‘ she knew exactly who the historical characters were as soon as they appeared’ as the costumes were so well designed’.

All the models particularly King Henry VIII were rapturously applauded – my show proved to be very successful indeed. We certainly enjoyed presenting it – it was both very well publicised and efficiently organised.

I would like to thank my team  – models – Mick (my husband),  Helen, Jess, Laura as well as Kevin my sound engineer. I must mention my son James who presented the talks while I changed the models backstage.

I would also like to thank Jen at Gateshead Council and all her team for making the Period Fashion Show such a success – we would love to present an event in the centre again. It was a fabulous period setting for my costumes!




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