As part of the preparation for our 20 years celebrations, our Chinese Bronzes and Women’s Library collections will be closed from Monday 26 February, reopening with the rest of our new season on Thursday 21 March.

A Georgian Weekend Gardener

Well, of all the things… There I was being all supportive for a forthcoming ‘Georgian Weekend’ at Compton Verney, when a comment sprang forth from my lips: what about costumed people in the grounds, as well as in the mansion?

And several months later, I find myself in the costume department of the Royal Shakespeare Company… Eeek – when will I learn to keep quiet!!


Initially, I had trouble finding the building, driving through the entire industrial estate once with no joy. On a second drive through the estate however, I scoured the modest units each side of the road, only to discover that I hadn’t been thinking BIG enough – the RSC warehouse was huge!

The building runs to three floors, has 550m of clothing rails and holds in the region of 30,000 costumes and accessories no less. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to indulge my desire to try on costumes at will, as my selection was already hanging ready for a trial, but it was clear that much fun could be had given the time – and permission of course! Costumes in the store seem to cover most periods in history, along with religious and military outfits; there’s even a fantasy and global section.


Following a little research from us at Compton Verney, we were offered via email images, a selection of appropriate hire clothing for the Georgian Weekend. I arrived to find a collection of items as put together by Harriet, one of the helpful RSC costume staff. Before I knew it, I was into a changing area that was crammed full of Royal looking clothing, golden crowns and glittering jewellery.

A Georgian head gardener from the eighteenth century we are looking to create, and before me lay all the items but for the wig. Excuse me if I’m out on terminology, as historic clothing is familiar to me in look alone, the correct naming might need adjustment.

First on were the breeches or trousers, just down beyond the knee – I didn’t want to get interrupted before these were up! Next on was what seems to have been referred to as a chemise, or shirt, and was comfortably baggy – I was already wondering how the garments would have held up under working conditions…but apparently, both this and the neck kerchief were intended to be washed, and protected the more showy outer layers.


The cravat or neck kerchief followed, and was again instantly comfortable. A waistcoat, very workman-like I thought, fitted perfectly – maybe a little too perfectly – better lay off the chocolate for a while I think..


And finally, a split full length jacket completed the look, with black buckled and heeled shoes, and a surprisingly comfortable tricorn hat – shaped so as to shed water away from the main garment. I don’t usually take to wearing hats…

All that remains to complete the look is the addition of some stockings (don’t laugh) and a brown wig (again – don’t laugh!) These last items are in the pipeline so to speak.


Speaking of the Georgian Weekend at Compton Verney, this will be carried out over the weekend of the 28th and 29th September, but there will be much more than little old me wandering about in the mist. Indoors will be members of the Mannered Mob, who will be entertaining with music and dance – the elegant Adam Hall always proves ideal for such occasions! For creative ones, there will also be chance to create a mask fit for a ball or a tricorn hat.

If you can’t visit, please take time to post a comment and show support for our Georgian Weekend, we’re hoping if response is positive, to make this a regular event – please make your vote here count! Do visit if you can and you’ll be assured of a warm welcome, but watch out for the head gardener – I’ll have sharpened my scythe special like!

For information on the Georgian Weekend – Click here.

For RSC information about the costume store – Click here.