Opening the wardrobe door…

Welcome to my blog about all things costume related. My name is Ellie and I am lucky enough to work at Berrington Hall where the Charles Paget Wade costume collection is stored. This blog intends to showcase a fabulous but largely secret collection of 18th and 19th century costume. I hope you enjoy!

About the collection

This fabulous costume collection owes its existence to the extraordinary vision of the avid collector Charles Paget Wade. Wade harboured an obsession with the magic of objects and the power they imbue in us all to ‘inspire a thousand fancies.’

The collection comprises 2,203 objects, largely 18th and 19th century costume, with a particular bias towards menswear. The collection is unusual in that it contains items from both ends of the social strata as its collector, Charles Paget Wade, championed the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement selecting items based on his dictumΒ ‘Colour, design and craftsmanship.’Β 

Why the blog?

At present the collection really is a hidden wardrobe. With no facilities for display on the horizon it remains largely hidden and in storage at Berrington Hall. The curator, Althea Mackenzie, and I hope to address this by providing access in the most modern of venues – the blogosphere!

In short the purpose of this blog is to provide:

  • Detailed colour photographs of an incredible collection
  • Showcase the collection without the damaging effects of long-term display and handling
  • Encourage and generate interest in costume history (If you have questions please ask!)
  • Indulge ourselves in all things costume!

As we work our way through the collection to improve and renew the storage facilities at Berrington Hall we shall be photographing the items for your enjoyment and, on occasion, opening up our workroom for the public to come and look at the wonderful and exciting objects in this hidden wardrobe…enjoy!

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. Judith says:

    I have just found this blog, excellent, thank you. I was hugely disappointed when I discovered that the Snowshill collection wasn’t there any more. I came across it first in Nancy Bradfield’s wonderful books. The National Trust needs to highlight its textiles more (I have visited houses where I knew more than the room stewards had in their notes, though there was always heaps about the furniture).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Martin Moser says:

    I just came across your wonderful blog searching for information on heels of 18th century shoes, which I’m about to try making for the first time – excellent information and fabulous pictures. I hope to see more of your interesting posts in the future! Please also give my best to Althea Mackenzie, whose book on shoes of this collection I bought not too long ago πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike Rendell says:

    As a small and inadequate thank you for the wonderful day out at Berrington Hall I have added a blog about my visit at http://mikerendell.com/berrington-hall-a-georgian-gem/ All the best, Mike

    Like

  4. cinemattire says:

    I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!
    Here’s the full post:
    http://cinemattire.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/versatile-blogger-awards/
    There’s absolutely no obligation to take part unless you wish to ~ if not, please simply take it as a tribute to my appreciation for your wonderful blog!
    ~ Clara from Cinemattire πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. Oh wow thank you so very much! I am flattered and very, very humbled. Thank you πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and varied collection Looking forward to more period clothing!

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  6. Thank you for following my blog Sue’s considered trifles. You might find my other blog, Sue’s Trifles more interesting as I occasionally post about craft projects. http://suestrifles.wordpress.com
    I find costume fascinating. The V&A’s costume gallery is a favourite place of mine. On a family visit to the Royal Armouries Museum I took my daughter round (she was very young at the time) and we looked at the workmanship in the artefacts.

    Like

  7. I’m writing up a piece on Snowshill soon and can’t wait to give a link here. You are doing amazing work. The condition of the materials is spectacular. Are there any other photos of Mr Wade in his outfits? I think he is spectacular.

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    1. The Hidden Wardrobe says:

      Hello there,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. You might want to check out the Snowshill Blog http://secretsofsnowshillnt.wordpress.com and ask the team what they have in the archives. The photograph on my homepage is the only one we have at Berrington Hall as far as I am aware but we do have the incredible boots he is wearing in this picture. I could do a blog post on them if you would like?

      Like

  8. Mark is right – you are doing a fantastic job, many thanks – this is a wonderful resource! πŸ™‚

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    1. The Hidden Wardrobe says:

      Thank you so much πŸ™‚

      Like

  9. I have just done a post publicising this great blog – and your wonderful waistcoats: http://bit.ly/19x87vO

    Like

    1. The Hidden Wardrobe says:

      Hi Emile,

      Thank you so much! We have a really exciting year of costume exhibitions at Berrington Hall planned so it is much appreciated πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. I just found your wonderful electronic museum…what a great idea! You can be sure I’ll be following closely. Thank you for sharing this unique collection with us.

    Like

  11. Cal says:

    Wow, I love this blog, it opens up a fascinating still little known world, making it accessible and real! We can learn such a lot from the past, through contact with the ordinary and everyday. You must keep up the hard work, it is so well worthwhile.

    Like

  12. Mark Wallis says:

    Ellie – you are doing incredibly important work, not just to those of us fascinated by historic dress, but in the service of Culture and for future generations.
    Keep opening those boxes!!

    Like

    1. The Hidden Wardrobe says:

      You are too kind Mr. Wallis! πŸ™‚

      Like

  13. I am excited to see this collection and will try to visit on my next costuming trip so I am able add Berrington Hall to the list of 15 English museums where I have examined along with Hallie Larkin examined many items and loved learning more about costume and textiles with the friendly and helpful curators. I am an 18th and early 19th century re-enactor and share what I learn with those also in the hobby,

    Like

  14. My mother and I have been so lucky that in the past we have ‘explored’ the wardrobe with Althea!!!! And it my dream top be able to do so again!!! We are historical costumers for re-enactors in the US and have incorporated lots of Berrington in our line of clothing. I feel like I will be there with you as each box becomes an exciting ‘discovery’ Looking greatly forward to following your experience! Please say HI to Althea from us. Annie and Verna Metz

    Like

  15. brocadegoddess says:

    This is so wonderful! I’m a Canadian academic dress historian currently focusing on aspects of dress in 18th century England and Berrington Hall is one of my favourite places to do research (despite how chilly it is in the winter!). Althea has always been so kind and generous with allowing access. I’m so glad to see this collection come into the light, especially in such an ingenious, innovative way. I will be following the blog regularly!

    Like

    1. The Hidden Wardrobe says:

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments, they are really appreciated! I am about to do a post on the court waistcoats in the collection which are incredible so I hope you enjoy. Thank you again for the support πŸ™‚

      Like

  16. DavidG says:

    Good to see you still sharing your enthusiasm, keep up the good work.

    Like

  17. Lucy Reason says:

    I just love this blog ellie you are a genius xx

    Like

    1. The Hidden Wardrobe says:

      Thank you Reason πŸ˜‰ xx

      Like

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