What ladies wore to court and how they answered the call of nature.
Earlier this week I managed to spend a day at Berrington Hall in Herefordshire. It’s a Georgian mansion with gardens laid out by Capability Brown. Wandering through the rooms and strolling around the plentiful walled gardens was an absolute delight, but what really captured my imaginatiion was a dress. Not just any old dress but one belonging to Ann Bangham, first lady of Berrington. It’s a restored 18th century court mantua dress.
In case you don’t know what a mantua dress is, it’s an overgown or robe typically worn over stays, stomacher and a co-ordinating petticoat (according to Wikipedia). As I understand it, mantua dresses were court dresses, designed to be worn when a lady was presented at court to the monarch.
Think of it as a high fashion catwalk dress. Intricately embriodered and threaded through with gold silk, this one was incredibly ornate and still packed a punch, despite being around 250 years old. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. It really is an incredible sight.
Talking of fashion, we’ve probably all seen some crazy concoctions in our day. Do you remember those incredible 1980s shoulder pads and how ridiculously accentuated they were on the catwalks? Well, that’s nothing compared to the bottom half of this dress. It looks like a small sofa’s been hidden under there. It makes you wonder how the poor women managed to move in it, or even stay standing! Apparently, a dance master was usually employed to teach them the tiny steps needed to walk in it. When they were on the move, it was said that the ladies looked as if they were gliding on wheels.
As for the underwear, here’s a picture of the stays and petticoat that had to be worn underneath.
And what, you ask yourself, happened if the poor dear needed to answer the call of nature? Well, it wasn’t as tricky as you might think. Knickers weren’t invented at the time so the lady essentially went commando. If she needed to ‘go’ her maid would hand her a ‘bourdaloue’ – a gravy boat shaped jug. When she’d finished the lady would hand it back to the maid to empty. A bit like an early day ‘She-wee’ then?
I wonder if that’s where the term loo comes from? If anyone knows the answer, do let us know.
Sometimes friendship can turn up in the unlikeliest of places.
As soon as Anna meets Grace, she knows there’s something special about her. Despite the age gap – Grace is 94 and Anna is 39 – the two connect and friendship blossoms. Bit by bit the lives of these two lonely women are brightened by each other’s company and neither can imagine their lives without the other in it. Unfortunately, not everyone is as pleased about it as they are. Grace’s great-nephew Tom, for one. Not only does he suspect Anna’s motives, he also does not like the effect she’s having on Aunty Grace. Grace’s new found independence is dragging up old memories that seem to be unsettling her. Memories about the man who left her at the altar long before she married her beloved Roy. Anna embarks on a project to help Grace gain closure which does not go down well with Tom. And Grace has her own project. All she has to do is get Anna and Tom to like each other and the rest should be easy.
There were no great surprises in this book but that didn’t matter. I still couldn’t wait to return to it every time I put it down. A charming and heart-warming story and a perfect holiday read. Funny, touching and uplifting. Grace is a lovely, sweet character. One I could easily fall in love with.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Today I’m sharing information about this uplifting story of love, loss and second chances that celebrates friendship and human connections – and an excerpt from it to see if it will whet your appetite for more!.
Netta Wilde was all the things Annette Grey isn’t. Netta Wilde was raw, unchecked and just a little bit rebellious. She loved The Clash and she loved being Netta Wilde.
Annette Grey is an empty, broken woman who hardly knows her own children. Of course, it’s her own fault. She’s a bad mother. An unnatural mother. At least, that’s what her ex-husband tells her.
The one thing she is good at … the one thing that stops her from falling … is her job.
When the unthinkable happens, Annette makes a decision that sets her on a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. Along the way, her life is filled with friends, family, dogs, and…
An uplifting story of love, loss and second chances that celebrates friendship and human connections.Netta Wilde was all the things Annette Grey isn’t. Netta Wilde was raw, unchecked and just a little bit rebellious. She loved The Clash and she loved being Netta Wilde. Annette Grey is an empty, broken woman who hardly knows her own children. Of course, it’s her own fault. She’s a bad mother. An unnatural mother. At least, that’s what her ex-husband tells her. The one thing she is good at …the one thing that stops her from falling …is her job. When the unthinkable happens, Annette makes a decision that sets her on a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. Along the way, her life is filled with friends, family, dogs, and jam. Lots of jam. Suddenly anything seems possible. Even being Netta Wilde again. But, is she brave enough to take that…
Netta puts up with a lot in my opinion, and I felt that she was totally taken advantage of by her ex Husband and grown up children – especially her children, expecting her to pay for everything, yet not wanting to spend time in her company. Netta comes across as a totally likeable character – it’s just the rest of her family that are the problem, especially her ex, Colin, who rings her up to complain about the fact that she’s been made redundant – seemingly more worried about his handouts, than Netta’s welfare!
Netta seems to have changed a lot since her carefree university days, which are described vividly, where all she was interested in was having fun. It felt as though Colin had gradually eroded her confidence over the years, and poisoned the children against her.
Being made redundant and getting involved with volunteering at the food bank…
Here’s my guest post for Between The Lines book blog
It’s launch day on the blog tour for Being Netta Wilde, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.
I have a guest post to share by Hazel Ward, the author…
I choose music with my words.
Popular music has always played a part in my life. There are songs that have been lodged in my memory for a long time. Not necessarily ones I’d choose to listen to, but that doesn’t make them any less special. Que Sera Sera, an old Doris Day hit, immediately transports me back to my mother singing it when ironing. My dad’s favoured singalong was a traditional one called The German Clockmaker. Quite racy for its time, I believe. He had a habit of singing it when drunk. I’m smiling now at the thought of my younger self rolling my eyes as he belted it out in the middle of a crowded pub.