Our 103rd birthday meeting was a splendid afternoon. We had moved to the church Hall for this event as we were expecting most members to attend along with a dozen or more ladies from other local WI groups. We were not disappointed! In keeping with tradition everyone contributed a plate of food with the centre piece being a birthday cake made by June.

We also wore hats in recognition of Brain Tumour Research.

After a warm welcome from the president, and a rendition of Jerusalem, Ann introduced Jacqueline Norman who gave an illustrated talk on Dressing the Tudors – specifically Elizabeth I. She began with Elizabeth, the baby. Born in 1533, Elizabeth would have been swaddled, like all babies of the time. Full swaddling could last for up to six months followed by lower body swaddling for another six. At twelve months all children were dressed the same – in dresses!

In court, by the age of 2, girls would have been dressed in the adult fashion of the day, already considered to be on the “marriage market”. For Elizabeth this would have been in the French fashion, like her mother Anne Boleyn. This style maintained through her teenage years but when she became queen in 1559 the open necklines had gone and the bodices and sleeves from Italy were more fashionable. Her coronation dress was made from cloth of gold – probably recycled. This was an extremely expensive and heavy garment woven from beaten gold wound round a silk core. Underneath would have been a smock and several petticoats followed by a loose gown.

Fashion continued to change and the queen, always wanting to dress to impress, was eager to adopt the new Spanish couture with large cut sleeves and a very large ruff. Eventually Elizabeth brought her own style to her wardrobe with silk cloaks and large hoods, the drum dress with a boned frontispiece and very ornate ruffs.

Jacqueline brought with her many examples of the garments she mentioned and dressed her manikins to show how they were worn. I think we all thought today’s fashion was a lot more comfortable and easier to wear than Elizabethan clothing although with central heating in our building we have no need of multiple layers of skirts or fur lined cloaks.

After this fascinating talk we enjoyed our birthday tea and much animated chatter before going out into the sunshine, to head home.

For more information contact chriswelling@rocketmail.com

S Fothergill & C Welling


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