Costume Design & Historical Dress

January 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm (fashion, history) (, , , , , )

Thanks to a Facebook post by Alessandra, I’ve found the website Idlewild Illustré: Historical Dress, Cosume Design, and Making Things. First “find” this article about “National Costume,” Munich circa 1816. Delightful illustrations!

idlewild

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Gouveneur Morris meets Lady Cunliffe & Daughters

May 7, 2013 at 8:35 am (books, diaries, history, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Thank you, Charlotte Frost (meet the author yourself, Dear Reader, on Twitter), for reminding me about a meeting that took place in 1790 in which Gouverneur Morris (famous to Americans) noted in his diary a meeting with my Lady Cundliffe (as he calls her) and her daughters, Mary (Mrs Drummond Smith) and Eliza (later: Mrs William Gosling).

morrisI typically put such comments into my “letters” files now; but this was a comment found so early on in the research (it began 7 years ago) that I remembered it having happened — but NOT what the man had written about them (that’s why I BUY books: to have them on the shelf to take down when I want them). In searching out the online book links for Charlotte Frost, I re-read the entry.

WOW!

“To-day [April 23d (1790)] I dine with my brother, General Morris. The company are a Lady Cundliffe, with her daughters, Mrs. Drummond Smith and Miss Cundliffe; the Marquis of Huntly, Lord Eglinton, General Murry, Mr. Drummond Smith (who, they tell me, is one of the richest commoners in England), and Colonel Morrison of the Guards. After dinner there is a great deal of company collected in the drawing-room, to some of whom I am presented; the Ladies Hays, who are very handsome, Lady Tancred and her sister, and Miss Byron are here, Mr. and Mrs. Montresor. I am particularly presented to Colonel Morrison, who is the quartermaster-general of this kingdom, and whose daughter also is here. She has a fine, expressive countenance, and is, they tell me, of such a romantic turn of mind as to have refused many good offers of marriage because she did not like the men. I have some little conversation with Mrs. Smith after dinner. She appears to have good dispositions for making a friendly connection, as far as one may venture to judge by the glance of the eye. Visit Mrs. Cosway, and find here Lady Townsend, with her daughter-in-law and daughter. The conversation here (as, indeed, everywhere else) turns on the man (or rather monster) who for several days past has amused himself with cutting and wounding women in the streets. One unhappy victim of his inhuman rage is dead. Go from hence to Drury Lane Theatre. The pieces we went to see were not acted, but instead, ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘The Spoiled Child.’ This last is said to have been written by Mrs. Jordan. She plays excellently in it, and so, indeed she does in the principle piece.  Two tickets have been given me for the trial of Warren Hastings….” [pp 317-18]

Morris, from just this passage, seems to have had an eye for the ladies, don’t you think?

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My two Cunliffe girls have short histories. Mary, who married Drummond Smith (brother to Joshua Smith – father of Maria, Eliza, Augusta, and Emma Smith – the girls of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire), was a new-ish bride. She had married in July 1786. Without a definitive birth date she was born circa 1762; her husband, born in July 1740, was about twenty-two years her senior! At this point in time, I have no real idea how the families met, why Mary Cunliffe and Drummond Smith married. I do know that Mary’s sister, Eliza Cunliffe, became a great friend to all the Smiths at Erle Stoke, though perhaps especially to second daughter Eliza (the future Mrs William Chute, of The Vyne).

It breaks my heart to think of Eliza Gosling, who married banker William soon after friend Eliza married her William (September 1793). She either was or came to be in fragile health. Eliza Chute worried about her having more children, writing that FIVE were enough in her nursery. The fifth Gosling child was my Mary Gosling (born February 1800) – obviously named for her Aunt and Grandmother.

But: Did Mary remember either her mother or her Aunt Mary? In December 1803, Eliza Gosling died. And by the end of February 1804 so had her sister! So it is with awe that I re-read Morris’ comments. This prior Mary Smith was destined never to become LADY SMITH; Drummond received his baronetcy months after her death. (Mary Gosling’s future husband would inherit the title from his great-uncle in 1816.) Simply WONDERFUL to hear that this Mary Smith seemed to have “good dispositions for making a friendly connection”.

morris2

NB: I am quite intrigued by his comment about the ‘monster’ on the loose.
I must find out more.

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Hmmm… whatever happened to ‘choosy’ Miss Morrison?

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Prior post on Lady Cunliffe

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Hear a letter from Augusta Smith to Eliza Gosling, 1797
(YouTube)

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Wild for Regency Antiques

March 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm (entertainment, history, research) (, , , , , )

Yesterday I went *wild* for “pinning” Regency Antiques and Furniture, and fleshed out a board that had only a couple of dull pieces. I never really thought about it before, but items like Tea Caskets, Writing Slopes, and Ormolu Lustres were items used every day by the Smiths & Goslings. Peppering their reimagined homes — on Portland Place, at Suttons and Roehampton Grove — with furnishings and knickknacks enables me to fully see their everyday existences.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they had a piece similar to this George I Bookcase (I’m in love…); and check out the *fun* Nutmeg Grater in the “shape” of Brighton Pavilion!

Now this pinning is fun, because I could never afford the Brighton Pavilion grater (there’s NO price listed; and you know the old saying: “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it”), but it will forever be on my Pinterest Board!

What grabbed my attention, and what I’m blogging about today, however, was in seeing the several models of “Regency work tables”. I give as a for-instance, this lovely piece:

work table

I was QUITE perplexed by the fabric “bag” which they all had, dangling like the utter on a cow. It wasn’t until searching specifically for regency work tables tonight that I found one piece illustrated by several photos, one of which included its “bag” pulled out. Ah… ha…!

work table2

I had assumed that the “bag” was more flexible and maybe, just maybe, dropped in from the top. Nope. Pulled out, it seems quite a “constructed” box, doesn’t it; and it obviously slides into place. Ingenious, when you think about “tidying up” your space. Grab your work basket and — slip — under the table it goes, all nice and neat.

In the booklet Scenes from Life at Suttons there is brief mention made of the work basket — quite obviously the pieces distributed to the poor at the year’s end, that the Smith girls worked on periodically. I need to hunt up the passage I’m recalling (so do check back), but my impression was that if you had a spare moment you grabbed a piece of clothing and sewed. Perhaps this was where such works-in-progress were stored!

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NB: www.onlinegalleries.com has been my “place” of antiquing choice. Please, let me know YOUR favorite online shops.

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Letters: Unspoken Speech

December 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm (diaries, history) (, , , , , )

A Pinterester got me excited, less for the image than the sentiment written beneath it:

pen and letters

“….when someone can still speak to you even after they’ve gone…”

This sentiment speaks VOLUMES to me. Mary and Emma have lived lives so long ago – and yet, because they left diaries and letters, I begin to feel I’ve known them. When I applied for the Leon Levy Fellowship in Biography, I wrote that these people haunt me. How true! I continually want MORE: more information, more letters, more answers – hell, even more “mysteries”, for that would mean “more digging.”

I’ll take a moment to post a couple of thank yous – to Kildare, to Philip, Michael in London, and especially Michael in Aberystwyth.

And I’ll mention also that Two Teens is also on Pinterest! Visit, drop by and say hi.

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2Teens joins Pinterest!

September 3, 2012 at 10:55 am (books, entertainment, fashion, jane austen, research) (, , , , , )

I could resist no longer. Although I may never have the time to devote to my Pinterest boards as I might wish, I’ve begun! So, if you too are on Pinterest, please follow me and I’ll follow you. There’s a lot of boards dedicated to Jane Austen; to films; to books; to Regency fashions. I’ve only found the tip of the Austen Iceberg, I’m sure.

And what made me finally take the plunge?

The following made me chuckle – How True, How True:

Then this one made me LAUGH OUT LOUD:

(I, too, have no children… and because my work colleagues have youngsters, I think I now know why Austen called Pride & Prejudice her own darling child => manuscripts clamber for attention and time, just as children do. Only people easily dismiss your work and dedication.)

Although the boards have only been up since last evening – and are hardly “filled”, this little image (one among so many along the same lines; how DID this type of  “poster” begin its life???) has been a hit, getting likes and repins. It perfectly illustrates how I wish my life — as a wish to live by my research takes hold more and more (but the bank account has other ideas!) — could be:

Visit the Pinterest board that first posted these images

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Frost Tweets: Regency Clothes on Pinterest

July 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm (europe, fashion, history) (, , , , , , , )

click to tweet with Charlotte Frost

Charlotte Frost, whose “tweets” are consistently informative, notified readers of this Pinterest board on LOVELY GOWNS pinned by Lady TranbyCroft.

The photos of vintage clothing are truly lovely.

The bulk of the gowns range in date from late 18th century well into the late 19th century, but it’s the simpler gowns from the Rengecy – when my girls were young, unmarried teenagers, that really grab my attention.

Among my favorites: the amber-colored gown with the lower skirt embroidery (beadwork?), pinned from the Republic of Pemberley. Also, the white gown “close-up” from the V&A, which really shows off the gown’s workmanship. And who wouldn’t notice a Union Jack gown if that walked into the room?!?

Don’t miss Lady TranbyCroft’s other boards, including one for Regency Men’s Fashions.

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