I’m sure many of us go on holiday and enthusiastically embrace the cultural delights on offer . But how many of us, have neglected to visit the wonderful museums and art galleries on our doorsteps? A little while ago I decided that I hadn’t visited the House Museum at Blaise Castle for years. The main reason for my visit was to take a look at the costumes and social history exhibits. The museum has a huge collection of costumes dating from the early eighteenth century onwards. Sadly only a fraction of them are on display, but the small exhibition is an interesting insight. Apparently it is possible to arrange a visit with the curator if you want to see some of the other items which are in storage.
First, there is a display of shoes and accessories. These shoes are made of brocade cloth and have vellum soles. It’s a shame, but I didn’t make a note of the date of these shoes, but I can see the left and right shoe are not differentiated, which is typical of shoes before the nineteenth century.
These boots from the 1850s were made of cloth and have leather toes. This type of boot was generally used for walking and travelling
These beautiful court shoes date from the 1950s. The stiletto heel, is for me always associated with the 1980s. However, the phrase “stiletto heel” was first recorded in the early 1930s. The stiletto heel is made of a metal spike embedded in the heel, but there is uncertainty about when this technique was first used, but thin high heels were certainly around in the late 19th century.
My favourites, though, are the boy’s football boots from the 1930s. They are, of course, made of leather and very different from their modern counterparts!
This brocade evening dress dates from about 1927.
This fantastic velvet and chiffon dress from the 1930s would have been an amazing dress for a glamorous occasion.
A couple of dresses from the 1960s. On the left, a silk cocktail dress and on the right, a maxi-length evening dress
There are also a few older dresses. I particular like the regency dresses. This white muslin dress dates from 1812 and shows the silhouette evokes classical Greek statues.
The embroidery is created using tambour work, a popular and fashionable style of embroidery at this time using a pick to pull thread through the fabric. I think the embroidery has a Greek feel to it too.
This striped silk dress is more triangular in shape, as favoured by Parisian ladies. The end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 the Paris influences could once more be seen in British fashions.
The hem of this dress is padded, this helped to hold the skirt of the dress in the desired shape and was also decorative.
This pelisse robe was worn over the dress like a coat. It dates from around 1825. It is still a beautiful vibrant colour.
The decorative squares at the hems and cuffs are made by covering small squares of cardboard with fabric.
This next dress shows the lower waistline and fuller skirts of the early Victorian era (1840).
This dress is from the later Victorian era when bustles replaced the crinoline.
The great advantage of this museum is its small size and being able to get so close to the clothes. Not only could I get a real feel for the details and embroidery, but I could even see the hand stitches on some of the dresses.