The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back from a summer afternoon in the 1850s

Here is my picnic spot, with a view of the Fallon House.
Photo by Kim.
Well, the ca. 1850 sheer dress I've been working on is finally finished enough to be wearable, although there are some things I'm going to have to tweak ...  But such is life!  Our Greater Bay Area Costumers' Guild Victorian Picnic was a success, with perfect weather (August in San Jose can be scorching hot, but we had a cool breeze all afternoon), plenty of shade, and everyone in wonderful mid-Victorian summer day dress.

Here is my dress on the hanger, which I finished around 7 a.m. the morning of the picnic (after having stayed up sewing all night).

Photo by Christopher.
My friend Martha and I also gave tours of the Fallon House, and almost everyone who attended went on the tour and had really good questions.  There was much picture-taking inside and out, with everyone dressed so appropriately for the period (the house was built in 1855 and was a residence until 1875).
Photo by Nedy.

Thanks to the other attendees for most of the photos on this blog post!  Unfortunately, I didn't take very many photos, and I never got one of myself wearing my new dress.  This one is the best one because, although it's a little washed out, you can see almost the entire dress.

Me giving one of the tours.
On another note, while making this dress, I helped pass the time by watching the BBC documentary "Edwardian Farm" on the internet.  Such a great program!  It was done by the same team that did "Victorian Farm", and they have also done a similar project called "Tales from The Green Valley" set in Tudor England, and they're currently working on a WW2-era documentary called "Wartime Farm."  It is so good to see historians and archaeologists bringing history to life in this way!  So different from the "Frontier House" and "Texas Ranch House" programs done in the USA, which, while advised by good historians, featured people who weren't really interested in the history, trying to get out of doing things the old way, and became daytime drama reality shows more than historical documentaries.  The "Victorian Farm" and "Edwardian Farm" producers and team consistently showed the period sources for their methods, using all original antiques or exact reproductions, and consulting with old-timers who had lived through and done the same things before World War 1, making for a much more informative, trustworthy and intellectually satisfying program.  And, I must say that I am a huge fan of the three presenters of these programs, Ruth, Alex and Peter; Ruth is delightful and Peter and Alex are gorgeous, and they not only know what they're talking about when they offer commentary on the experience, but they really care about what they're doing, and they care about doing it right.  Their passion for history comes through in every scene.

"Edwardian Farm" Wikipedia entry
"Victorian Farm" Wikipedia entry
"Tales from the Green Valley" Wikipedia entry
"Ruth Goodman" Wikipedia entry
Alex Langlands' website
Ruth Goodman's website
"A window on the past" interview with the series producer 

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)