Glorious Georges, Historic Palaces, Costuming, Victoria's Wedding Dress and Men's High Heels...

The Courtiers - Lucy Worsley

Whenever I read history I'm interested in it always leads to googlefests where I find all sorts of articles and videos. Then I pretend that I'm not wasting my time because of course I'm going to blog it, and someone might find it useful. (I do love this excuse, it always makes me feel helpful. Of course I'd be looking this stuff up this anyway because I'm a history junky and can't help myself.)

 

From Lucy Worsley's The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace, 2% in, on men's dress for court:

"Between each gentlemen's left elbow and his side was clenched his chapeau-bras: a flat, unwearable parody of a hat, for the head was never covered in the presence of the King."

 

Literally, an "arm hat" - because you're wearing it only on your arm. I had wondered why I've seen so many illustrations of men carrying those and never actually wearing them. They don't look like they'd even fit over the wigs of the period.

 

3% in, on going to St. James' palace:

"A bristling bevy of red-clad Yeomen of the Guard preceded the sedan chairs of the Prince and Princess of Wales as they led the procession of their servants and supporters out of Leicester Fields. Ladies in court dress had to be literally crushed into sedan chairs, 'their immense hoops' folded 'like wings, pointed forward on each side.' To accommodate their 'preposterous high' headdresses, they had to tilt their necks backwards and keep motionless throughout the journey."

 

One of the fun things about reading well researched histories is that you find out all the uncomfortable details of life that really can't be romanced away.

 

Because anything connected with Lucy Worsley always has me googling something, I bumped into something recent that she's worked on. I should note here that  Worlsley's the Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces. Here's an exhibition that is currently on until Nov 2014:

 

The Glorious Georges

 

This link's to the main website, and should (hopefully) show you a video presenting the Georges as if they were all alive in present day, and mobbed by paparazzi (or having a press conference) in one of the historic palaces. Yes, it's history cosplay! Which I say as a compliment, since a good percentage of cosplayers are incredibly serious about being historically accurate and are wildly careful with detail. Meanwhile I enjoyed whateverhisnameis playing George II in that video because he looks so perfectly smug. At several points I expected them all to start Vogue'ing.

 

I then got totally hooked on the Historic Palaces youtube account - which led to most of the links below.

 

Glorious Georges - The Curator's Stories (4 min)

Lucy Worsley narrating, and then bits from other curators who worked on the exhibits and in the palaces. Gives you a run down of the various Georges' backgrounds.

 

Making Queen Anne's Bed (2 min)
Different exhibit, but a great fast speed view of how a crew of museum folk put together a historic bed. (Warning, the background music's a bit loud.) Note that all of the workers are wearing coats  - the older palaces are not known for their comfortable temperatures even now apparently.

 

Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber (2min)

Not the tell-all kind of secrets - it's all about the many royal rituals involved in going to bed and getting up. This is also a great example of a very competent video production with interview subjects/narrators that aren't quite managing to put their interest of the subject into their voices. (Doing vocals is such a fiddly business - most people who don't do it for a living often need a lot of coaching and a good director, and even then it's not always possible to get people to put the feeling of "THIS IS FASCINATING" into their voices without sounding like an addled cheerleader.)

 

Georgian Cook-along: Mutton Smoured in a Frying Panne

I'm adding this one purely for the fun of imagining a cooking show that is all about period cooking. (The Supersizers did this, but I'd love to see more producers try this sort of history show.)

 

Royal Wedding Dresses: A History (7 min)

This is from 2011 when the last royal wedding had everyone pondering royal history. I really love curators talking about dresses and fabric - I wish there were even more information here on how incredibly hard it is to keep such old dresses from falling apart.

 

How Will The Dress Measure Up to History (Telegraph, Hillary Alexander, 22 Apr 2011)

A text version on that exhibit, in case you wanted something non-video.

 

Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress: The One That Started It All (Dreamstress, Apr 2011)

Excellent blog entry about Victoria's dress with photos as examples. SO much about wedding dresses that people now insist have always and forever been traditional really date back to Victoria. The dress also has it's own wikipedia page.

 

High Heels for Kings, Expresses, and Nana (Dreamstress, June 2014)

In which the blogger re-creates a modern pair of shoes into an 1870s look. Yes, I have fallen in love with this blog. Note that it then moves on to discuss The Louis Heel versus Pompadour Heel, with photo examples from various museums. I now want to know more about Nicholas Lestage (who doesn't have his own wikipedia entry).

 

The Fashion Historian: Red Heels (Katy Werlin, Nov 9, 2010)

Only those in favor were allowed to wear the red heels.

 

Why Did Men Stop Wearing High Heels? (William Kremer, BBC World Service, 24 Jan 2013)

Quote: "Although Europeans were first attracted to heels because the Persian connection gave them a macho air, a craze in women's fashion for adopting elements of men's dress meant their use soon spread to women and children."

 

 

...Somewhere on one of my TBR lists I know there's a book on shoe history. The search for it will probably lead me into another googlefest, so now you have an idea of how I'll spend the next few hours!