Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Lucy Dillon, Walking Back to Happiness (enjoying)
The other exhibition we enjoyed yesterday was the one about what people wore/carried in their pockets. (This one’s especially for lovers of historical romance – I know you’ll enjoy this as much as we did.)
The Norwich Shawl. This one is an early example, dating from 1810-20, and the manufacturers in Norwich were among the first able to produce shawls as fine as those from Kashmir. (I could tell you all about Norwich Red and what’s so important about the dye, but I know I can get a bit, um, parochial, so I will shut up.) Oh, and the dress is muslin, made from Indian fabric, around 1802-10. The white fabric is a status symbol (for obvious reasons - can you imagine how high-maintenance that was?); and the shawl is worn as it would’ve been back then. (I covet one, I really do.)
Regency dress. Actually, the photo looks a bit gaudy, but it was rather nice ‘in the flesh’, and daughter and I both picked this out as the one we would wear if we lived in the period. (Though I also liked the dark green velvet Edwardian dress decorated with tiny sea shells.) Anyway, this dress is made of mousseline de laine (literally, ‘muslin of wool’) and metal thread, dating from 1818-20. Apparently, it would’ve needed an under-dress in the same colour, as it’s so fine.
Fede rings. Anyone who’s read my ‘Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded’ (aka the archaeologist book) will have worked out that I have a bit of a fascination for medieval jewellery. This is a pair of 15th-century betrothal rings (gold and turquoise), and the design has been used since Roman times – the clasped hands basically mean ‘hands in faith’, hence ‘fede ring’. Betrothal was as binding as marriage itself, in the period. (I covet one of these, as well. Hmm. Must point out to husband.)
Peacock fan. (Speaks for itself. I covet this, too. Must have a chat with my friend Louise Allen, who knows lots about this sort of thing.)
Visiting card holder. Actually, these were bigger than I expected (duh, of course they would be bigger than modern business cards – they were also used for writing notes e.g. thanking a host for entertainment or giving condolences on a loss, and women’s were larger than men’s). Daughter and I particularly liked this example – apparently it’s lined with pink velvet, but the outside is tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl. This one dates from 1845.
Come back tomorrow, and you’ll be in with the chance of winning a really useful and excellent book – the third edition of Kate Walker’s ‘12 point guide to writing romance’.