Saturday, 9 February 2019

Preston Park And Behind The Seams

 I headed to Preston Park Musem,  for their current exhibition Behinds the seams. Hand-Selected costumes loaned from the famous Angel archives, who provide costumes for Hollywood and television production. Featuring many from iconic films and television programmes. 

It was my first time visiting the museum that set
 in extensive grounds. The remaining Manor house has been converted into a social history museum with an authentic Victorian street transporting you back in time. On gorgeous clear, you can see a far as the Yorkshire Dales and explore the grounds next to the river. 

To see the exhibition, I first had to pay £2.50 entry fee for the museum, a grand bargain as the ticket permits entry all year and exhabition cost £5, quite cheap. I'll plan another trip when the weather improves. 

Angel is a family ran a business with a rich tradition of costuming. Initially, established in 1840 and providing costumes for stage performances of the day, later moving into films than television.  Over the years, they have amassed an extensive range of original period clothing and authentic replicas winning the costume house 36 Oscars to date.  Their extensive garment catalogue includes thousand of a sort after pieces.   Angel rarely allow the general public to view their collection, so its a rarity and felt a bit privilege to see. 

The exhibition appealed to my love of costuming and dressing making it a delight to observe the over impact of the finished garment. For me,  I was fascinated by the creativity, the inspiration for the design of the costumes, the choice of fabric, the construction techniques and the intricate beading work, often things that may be overlooked.  

The exhibition is set in grand homes former (I think) dining hall and music room. The rooms have been attentively restored the Victorian grandeur; With it decorative coving, art nouveau colbot, sumptuous midnight blue walls, with medium brown panelling and imposing crystal chandeliers.  I feel the surround fitted perfectly for this exhibition along setting an audial atmosphere with familiar music from films score echoing through.

Each costume display has its own space and stands to inform visitors about the costumes provenance detailing the film/ television programme appearance and who wore it. I was fascinated by the information.

I can't remember which costume this featured in, however, I love the shape of the skirt and blouse, especially the taping detail in the central panel and contrasting ruffles edges.  It's inspired me to create a princess seam blouse.

This has to be one of the most iconic dresses of the collection, in Hollywood's golden era, it was adorned by Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. 

These costume featured in Titanic, for a most captivating outfit is Rose's outfit made midnight blue satin, next to it the outfit Leonardo Decapio donned while playing Jack. 

For me, these outfits bought a sense of nostalgia, as they featured on a British comedy,   Only Fools and Horses. I always sit with my family at Christmas time watching the iconic clip with the protagonists Del Boy and his brother Rodney dressed as Batman and Robin running down some back lanes to get to a fancy dress party, since their van's broken down. Simultaneously,  a local councillor is getting robbed the duo come from the shadows accompanied by the sixties Batman theme song playing. The robber thinks their the real cape crusaders causing him to run and saving the councillor. It's so hilious and never wanes on me. It felt very special seeing these costumes.

This was the most recognisable costume  John  Snow's  Brother's watch outfit from Game of Thrones. There was a hilious storey about the fur mantle being a destroyed Ikea fur rug.

There was a section devoted to the Queens featured in Media 

I was fascinated by the intricate beading work of this dress. Worn by Judy Dench featured on Shakespeare In Love.  

I love the decorative beading work  the dress is a replica of the one ElizabethII wore her corniantion and featured on the Netflix series 

This costume is based on the coronation portrait of Elizabeth I. 

These two costumes were stunning and felt heavily influenced by Marie Antoinette. I can't remember which film they appeared on I think one may have been a costume for the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker. I love the choice in fabric how the ruffled fabric enhances the ethereal feel of the fabric,  especially on the stomacher panel and the edges of the outer skirt. 

This was one of my favourite costumes of the exhibition the design is based on a robe à la française also known as a sack- back gown; where their design has a loose back that creates a train which is structured with pleating. The choice of fabric, I think dutchess satin or taffeta silk, emphasised the dress.  The dress was featured on the live version of the Beauty and the Beast; I love anything associated with the film. 

I adored this kimono from Memoirs of a Geisha. The choice of the flowery silk chiffon and pattern that looks sublime under the dark lighting.    

Afterwards the exhibition, I felt like I time travelled back to the 19th century, the museums authentic small street to explore. It just looks like a fantastic place to take some fantastic costume photography. I was feeling a bit underdresses since I wore my think legging and tunic jumper.  

I love the original Victorian frontages with the decorative and ornate detail. The small shops looked adorable. 

All my favourites shop was the fabric and clothing shop, they had a gorgeous range of mourning attire on display with a few copied victorian garments. 

Some mourning attire fabric for sale.

There is a small social museum that extends over the top floor of the museum 

In most museums,  I'm usually attracted to either clothing whether it's an article of original or contemporary clothing. Or anything that's related to crafting.  

In the main hall, it's from the early 19th-century silk gown.  

There was some beautiful exmaples of homemade lace. 

I loved the example of homemade lace that was based on lace weaving, which was a cottage industry, particularly in the Stockton area. With lace making it could be an arduous and tedious task often completed by young girls and women where they could spend twelve hours a day making lace. Sometimes families would keep girls at home instead of going to school, as often the families were dependant on the mega income. 

This was a gorgeous sampler often it's made young girls and women from the upper classes, often they were encouraged to learn embroidery. As their skill progress girls would make samplers with the motif, prayers, alphabet, borders, etc. Sometimes children could be young as eight completed the sampler. 

There was some examples mourning of paraphernalia, during the Victorian era Queen Victoria made mourning etiquette customary after the death of Prince Albert. Often families would adopt strict and complex protocols that would dedicate how people should act and wear during this period, and depending on which family member die would dictate how long mourning should last. Often, the family would don black crepe with manuals being produced to instruct on the proper and correct conduct. 

This was a gorgeous capelet that belonged to a Victorian lady. With mourning it could last up to three years if their husband had died, which required different periods of mourning dictating what women could wear and activities they could participate in. 

After Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria popularised Whitby Jet as a way of commentating the loss of loved ones. W Hammond became the official Royal supplier. 

Mourning became a lucrative business, as it was bad luck to retain any mourning items in the house after the mourning period had finished. Some mourning also required using specifically designed objects such as a mourning tea service and stationary.  I have heard of this mourning tea-set, it was the first time I have seen. Through having a mourning tea meant Victorians could practice Momento Mori and remembering their loved ones. 

An interesting Victorian curiosity with a double-headed lamb. 

I had a gander and a sit in the gorgeous greenhouse and grounds. 

I took a few photographs of the local wide life, it's a cute periwinkle. 

Views of the Yorkshire Dales that lead to Whitby.  

I had a fun time looking around the grounds and the museum it was a gorgeous hidden gem of the place I was happy to discover a nice change to spend the day. Afterwards, I headed to Yarm, I had to look around the charity shops and the local Boyes.  I had a look around the small Catholic church and took a couple of photographs. 

I found a small squirrel lurking in the trees. 

How I got there
I got the X10 bus to Stockton, I paid the £10.50 for a Go North East ticket and go the Arriva, Seven to Preston Park which runs every ten minutes during the weekday.  Even if you don't drive its reasonable to venture. 


  1. Wow, two fabulous exhibits! They both look very interesting and indeed, exciting!

  2. Such a great collection of costumes in a wonderful space. If I'm ever in that part of the world this is definitely on my list.

    1. Thanks sadly, the exhibition is only on for a few months. It's a great venue for a costume exhibition.

  3. I LOVE both exhibits!! Amazing! Thanks for all the great photos! Big Hugs!

  4. This exhibition looks gorgeous. I have never been to Preston Park. I will have to add it to my list of places to visit.

  5. Me too, I only knew about the park after finding out about it after the exhibition. Alovely place to visit.


Life Update.

Hi, it's been a very long hiatus, not to say the least. Since my last post, a lot happened in October. I had a death in the family ...