Boxing Day In The UK

Boxing Day traditionally comes the after Christmas and is a major holiday in itself in the UK. After the relative quiet of Christmas Day when London almost completely shuts down, we decided to brave the crowds and head out to Liberty London.

Here I am examining some of Liberty’s recent releases…below are just a couple:

Afterwards, we decided to take a walk down Carnaby Street to take in the sights:

The crowds were HUGE, something we’re not used to in LA. 😀 Well, that’s all for now, stay tuned!

Another Take On Wedding Gowns…

In contrast to today, the term “wedding gown” was far more flexible in the late 19th Century than it is today. When we think of a wedding gown, we invariably think of some sort of dress that’s in some shade of white or ivory that’s only worn once on the wedding day and then stored away forever, unless a descendant chooses to wear the dress for their wedding. However, in recent scholarship, it’s been noted that the concept of the “white wedding” with its one-use wedding gown is a fairly recent development, as much a product of merchandising as social convention.

As discussed in a previous post, during the late 19th Century, a wedding dress was typically a woman’s “best dress,” often enhanced by netting, lace, and flowers (especially orange blossoms). The dress was definitely meant to be worn long after the wedding and in fact, the idea of having a dress for that’s only worn once and then stored away forever was considered the height of wastefulness. With that said, here’s just one example of what a wedding dress could be, at least if we accept the Walsall Museums’ description:

Day Dress c. 1885

Day Dress, c. 1885; Walsall Museums (WASMG : 1976.0832)

Day Dress c. 1885

Side Profile

Unfortunately the photography is not the best…style-wise this is mid-1880s with a defined train/bustle and is constructed from a silver-gray silk satin for the overskirt and bodice combined with a silk brocade floral pattern for the underskirt, under bodice and sleeve cuffs. The bodice is constructed to create the effect of a jacket over a vest (although these were usually made as a single unit) and the red flowers on the silk brocade provide pops of red that add richness and variety to what would otherwise be a somewhat dull monochromatic silver-gray dress.

Day Dress c. 1885

Close-up of front bodice.

And here’s a nice close-up of the silk brocade fabric:

Day Dress c. 1885

Close-up of fashion fabric.

Here’s a couple of more pictures (although the color is a bit off):

Day Dress c. 1885

Three-Quarter rear view.

Day Dress c. 1885

The red flowers on the silk brocade panels definitely draws the eye up and fixes the viewer’s eyes (As should be the case with all bridal dresses!). Of course, as with much of fashion history, there’s rarely any absolutes and this was the case with using “regular” colors versus the more bridal colors of white and ivory during the 1880s. However, in the end, it’s important to realize that the dividing lines between “bridal” and non-bridal were not as rigid was we tend to view them today (although that’s changing). This was just a brief glimpse into the world of bridal dresses during the 1880s and that there are alternatives to the “traditional” when it comes to bridal dresses. 🙂

In The UK- Part 3

Today we took a train trip out into the English countryside and met up with some friends and visited Waddeston Manor. Located close to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, the house was built between 1874 and 1889 by the Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898) as a weekend retreat for entertaining plus as a venue to house his art collection. The architectural style is a Neo-Renaissance (or Renaissance Revival style) and is quite elaborate and not the usual Victorian style that one normally sees in England.

To get an idea of the scale of the house, here’s an overhead view:

 Aerial view of Waddesdon from the north

And from the front:

The above images are borrowed from Wikipedia since my cell phone camera just wasn’t working right that day. And here’s mine:

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And now for a few interior views:

The Red Drawing Room:

 

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

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And there was quite an extensive collection of chinaware of all kinds…

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And then, unexpectedly, there were some Elizabethan era portraits by Nicholas Hilliard:

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And here are some close-up views of the portraiture. First, there Queen Elizabeth:

Sir Amias Paulet:

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester:

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It was an interesting tour and the crowds weren’t too bad (it was a weekday). Style-wise, the house was mostly decorated in 18th Century style- Rothschild had acquired a large amount of furniture, decorate elements, paintings, et al., mostly from France a la William Randolph Hearst but with much better taste. What also amazing is that the Waddesdon Manor was much more than just a big house, it was a whole self-contained community complete with it’s own workshops and even a power plant- basically, the manor was one of the largest employers in the area and the work was steady even during the Depression of 1893.

One newly-reopened area of the manor were the wine cellars and they were amazing:

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And yes, they offer wine tastings on a periodic basis…. 🙂

For us, touring Waddesdon Manor was an amazing experience and it exposed us to a lot of things that we normally just see in pictures or in museums, devoid of context. The richness of colors were very inspiring and it reinforced our current leaning towards saturated colors and jewel tones- it’s such a contrast to Southern California. We’re still thinking about this marvelous place and we’ll be commenting on it in future posts.

After our visit, we retired to a local pub for dinner and then caught a late train for London…

(To be continued…)

 

In The UK- Part 5

After spending a long morning at Portobello Road Market, we decided to pay a visit to Kensington Palace, the childhood home of Queen Victoria.

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Located in Kensington Gardens in London, Kensington Palace has been a residence for British royalty since the 17th Century and as such was the principal residence for King William and Mary, Queen Anne, and Georges I & II. We arrived in mid-afternoon on a Saturday which, in retrospect, was probably not the wisest idea with the crowds. Summoning up our courage, we paid our admission and entered…

Kensington Palace

Warning- The admission fee is a tad on the high side…

Pushing our way past the crowds, we took a somewhat random approach to what we viewed, filling in where there weren’t people and then moving from display to display as crowds formed. The first area we looked at was in the oldest part of the palace:

London Kensington Palace Adam

The crowds were a bit large and constantly getting in the way so we weren’t able to get as many pictures as we would have wanted. However, this caught our eye:

 

London Kensington Palace Adam

Hmm…well, the color choice isn’t optimal but you can’t beat the fabric for durability…

There were a number of reproductions of period garments, in this case a 17th Century dress, that were made out of Tyvek and intended to be handled by the visitors. Tyvek? Wow, brilliant idea when you think about it- the same stuff that’s used for hazmat suits and mailing envelops. 🙂

Here were a couple of views that we were able to get on the fly:

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Now, THAT’S a bed!

Besides the older wing, there was also the wing that had been occupied by Queen Victoria prior to her ascension to the throne as well as a temporary exhibition of Lady Diana’s wardrobe. Both were pretty interesting but the crowds were intense and we were unable to get a good look.  Overall, it was an interesting visit BUT if you go here, be sure to go on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds.

Adam London Kensington Palace

Taking a long break after dodging tourists all day…