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I read in the media today that, with the forthcoming release of two new films inspired by Bronte novels, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, that this was the year of the Brontes and Jane Austen ought to move over for her time in the limelight was over. Indeed? Well, someone should have told museum curators that, because I can report that yet another exhibition that concentrates on fashion in Jane Austen’s era has been commissioned and it opened yesterday at Fairfax House Museum in York. It will run until the 31st December.
Entitled Revolutionary Fashion, the clothes on show,some from the famed Olive Matthews Collection at the Chertsey Museum, demonstrate how fashion changed dramatically for both sexes during this era. For women, wide hooped skirts were no longer an option (save for court dress) and the slender columnar silhouette with a high waist became the order of the day. For men change was equally dramatic, with the adoption of simple, well-tailored clothes, in predominantly dark colours, a departure from the embroidered silks of all colours worn during the first three-quarters of the 18th century.
Go here to read a description of the exhibition on the museum’s most excellent blog. I do like the fact that the clothes are not only on show in the museum’s exhibition space,but are also to be seen in context, on display within its beautiful rooms. The cost of the exhibition is included in the normal admission price.
I may be able to see it: sadly, on my day in York a couple of weeks ago the museum was closed, and this exhibit had not yet opened. But in the meantime here is a link to a six-minute long video of a tour of the the exhibition ,produced by the Yorkshire Post newspaper, which I know will only partially satisfy you, but I afraid it is the best I can do at the moment.
I do hope you enjoy it, and I think you might agree with me that the time is not yet ripe for Jane Austen to move out of the limelight, no indeed.
As many of you know Fairfax House is one of my favourite museums, being the restored 18th century Georgian town house of Lord Fairfax, in York. The house has been very involved with the history of food and research into that topic, primarily through the wonderful research work and exhibitions organised by Peter Brown, and so it is entirely appropriate that this autumn Fairfax House is sponsoring two Georgian Food extravaganzas in September to be hosted by my favourite food historian, Ivan Day of Historic Foods, seen here at work in his marvellous 18th century kitchen in Cumbria.
The first of these events, Death By Chocolate, will beheld at Fairfax House on the 18th September at 7 p.m. and will be an exploration of the history of chocolate.
This is a picture of Ivan’s very own 18th century chocolate pot,
complete with tea bowl and saucer of 18th century Batavian ware, both of which I am sure will be used by Ivan during his demonstration. The evening looks fascinating and there will be a chance to taste Ivan’s chocolate confections during it. I do wish I could go but am sure that Ivan’s illustrated talk and demonstrations will be as wonderful as ever.
The second event is to be held on Sunday 19th September but this time in the glorious surroundings of Middlethrope Hall, just outside York, where Ivan will be demonstrating the art of making ice cream Georgian style. The ticket price includes an opportunity to take afternoon tea at the hotel, and if a taste of Ivan’s ice cream is also included then the afternoon is a bargain ;-)
As some of you know, I’ve made ice cream in the Georgian manner with Ivan on three occasions now and each time it has been a miraculous event, producing the ice cream the best I’ve ever tasted. And all done without the aid of a refrigerator. Like Jane Austen I was above vulgar economy on those days!
If you can’t make it to Fairfax House for the food events, then do try to get to see their current exhibition, Dress to Impress: Revealing Georgian Fashions, a small exhibit of Georgian era clothes on loan from various collections including those of the Castle Museum in York and Leeds museums and Galleries which runs until the 21st November.
There will also be three lectures on fashion to accompany the exhibit. The first, Dirt and What it Reveals, The Revelations of Conservation, will take place on Thursday 21st October at 7pm and is to be given by Mary Brooks. The second, Shaping the Style is to be given by Josie Shepherd, Curator of Textiles and Costume at the York Castle Museum, examines just how a lady dressed in the 18th century, from the niceties of style of the practicalities of wearing the dresses and corsets and, finally, on the 16th November “ Soe Neer Your Side ” will be a talk by Barbara Burman on the intriguing subject of pockets, that hidden but indispensable article of women’s attire during the long 18th century. The cost of the tickets, £12, include a glass of wine or soft drink.
And finally to the candles. On the 27th and 29th October at 7pm special tours of the house, Fairfax House After Dark, will be given when the house will be lit entirely by candlelight. You will be guided though the house by Lord Fairfax and members of his household staff to give you a glimpse into the life of the 18th century house, in appropriate(and rarely experienced) lighting. Sounds fascinating and an opportunity not to be missed!
If you would like to book a ticket to any of these events then please contact Fairfax House through the link above or telephone the Gift Shop on 01904 655 543.
I thought you might like to know that Amanda Vickery will be giving some lectures in England in relation to her new book, Behind Closed Doors. Here is a link to her web page where she has kindly included my review of her book among much more exualted reviewers!
There will be one next week at The Georgian Group premises at 6 Fiotzroy Square,(which some of you may recognise as being used for some of the location filming of the BBCs production of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South )but sadly, this ,I a now informed , is fully booked.
Snow permitting I will be attending the one Professor Vickery is giving at Fairfax House, York, on the 18th March which is part of the York Literature Festival and at the same time I hope to be able to undertake some research into the Knight family in and around South Yorkshire..
I have had the privilege of hearing Professor Vickery talk before and she is a marvellous speaker so if you can possibly get to the York venue I commend it. And as it is being held at Fairfax House which in itself is a treat, being a fabulously restored Georgian town house, you cannot fail to take every opportunity to enjoy yourselves, as Mrs Bennet might say ;-)