‘Hardwick Hall – more glass than wall’

We have had a very, very lovely day today – not only going to Hardwick Hall for the day but because my lovely daughter Ellie works there had a brilliant ‘behind the scenes’ experience which was amazing.

Here is the Hall in the lovely sunlight – as a contemporary of Bess’s wrote when it was built – ‘more glass than wall’.

Hardwick - hall front

Hardwick - garden

Here are some pictures of what the public gets to see.

The beautiful velvet heraldic embroidery created by Bess of Hardwick herself,  the blue silk bed hangings, the Great Hall with its bed canopy.

Hardwick - Bess velvet 1

Hardwick - Bess velvet 2

Hardwick - Blue silk bed

Hardwick - great hall

But we also got to go up on the roof! This is the top of the hall and the view from one of the small banqueting rooms that are in the towers.

Hardwick - Roof

Hardwick - Roof view

The best bit for me was going into the textile store rooms in the attic.Here are all the boxes with little pictures of the contents.

Hardwick - Textile store boxes

And here is Ellie opening one of the boxes for us.This contained a beautiful velvet hanging of flowers.

Hardwick - Ellie box

Hardwick - Flower velvet 1

Hardwick - Flower velvet 2

Another box had some more of the most wonderful of Bess’s heraldic pieces, here I am close up to this piece – no glass at all, heaven!!

Hardwick - Box velvet 1

Hardwick - Box velvet 2jpg

Hardwick - Box velvet 3

I feel very, very priviliged to have been able to do this – thank you Ellie!

And we were able to see the Gideon tapestries that have been away for conservation that she has been helping rehang – go and visit her blog for more details of this. The pictures below show the before and after effects of the cleaning.

Hardwick - Gideon 2

Hardwick - Gideon 1

A brilliant day – I loved it!

Take care all of you and thanks for visiting.

I am off to Florence on Sunday with my Mum so there may be some pictures of medieval art and churches when I get back – you never know!

The level of detail

We have just got back from another lovely weekend away at Harewood House. The weather was fantastic (I am a bit pink!) so we had a great time.

Wandering round in the early morning taking pictures of the living history camps I was impressed, once again, by the level of detail that people will go to to make their displays look special and personal.

Here is a tent from the Rosa Mundi group, look at the beautiful painting on the table legs and chest.

Harewood Rosamundi table

Harewood Rosamundi table 2

Harewood Rosamundi tent detail

And here the cooking area of the Buckingham Retinue – the meat is being prepared in the picture below.

Harewood Buckingham

Harewood Buckingham meat

And here is a beautifully painted and decorated tent and armour display from Knights in Battle, complete with reproduction pottery.

Harewood tent  KIB

Harewood tent inner KIB

Harewood armour  KIB

But first prize must go to this group from Italy who brought a replica miniature monastery complete with herb garden!

Harewood church

Harewood church 2

Harewood church 3

There were also some crafts being demonstrated.

Basketweaving and loom weaving.

Harewood basket weaving

Harewood loom weaving

And this person spent the whole weekend making bricks!

Harewood brick making

We were also lucky enough to find some new shoes for Ellen, we have been searching for a while but medieval shoes are expensive and in limited supply of sizes so we were very lucky to get these in her size for only £45.

Harewood Ellie's new shoes

I know a lot of people come to this blog for information about costume and my lovely friend Jackie was there this weekend trading, her company is called Cloak’d and Dagger’d and she makes all sorts of medieval clothes so do visit her web site.

Harewood Jackie

Harewood Jackie 2

Well I hope you have had a good Bank Holiday weekend, see you soon and thanks for visiting.

Way down South


I have just got back from a very lovely trip all the way to the very south of the UK (6 hours each way on the train) to go the christening of my cousin’s second daughter.

You may remember that she was born last summer shortly before my lovely Nana died, her eighth great-grandchild, and named Alice Evelyn in her honour. Neil and Vicky her parents very kindly asked me to be her godmother so Mum and I went all the way to Plymouth yesterday.

It was a great trip, staring out the window at all the lambs in the green fields and seeing all the blossom on the trees makes you realise what a beautiful country we live in, especially the last part of the trip from Exeter going along the coast. I love trains so this was a real treat for me!

We had a really lovely time spending last night at Neil and Vicky’s house which I have not visited before.

I did not see very much of my cousins when we were growing up but we have spent a lot more time together in the last few years, mainly in Spain, and I really enjoy their company and it was very precious family time.

A friend of mine recently posted a joke picture on Facebook saying we are ‘nillionaires’ meaning having no money to which I replied that they are rich in the things that count as they have two little girls of a similar age to my cousin’s children.

I deeply believe that what counts in life is family and friends and I am so lucky to have wonderful, close supportive people both relatives and those who are my ‘adopted’ family.

Nothing is more important than the people you love and helping and supporting them which is why I was so pleased to be asked to be Alice’s godmother.

The christening itself was held at HMS Drake which is the Naval base in Plymouth as Neil is in the Navy and so we had the service in the chapel on the base which was very lovely, dating from 1908.

The service was very High Church which I love, incense and sung prayers and then we had the lunch in the mess hall in the Wardroom with the most amazing model ships hanging from the ceiling and Sir Francis Drake’s sword in a display case at the back of the room!

Here is a slideshow of the church and mess room.

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My christening present to Alice was this little sampler – adapted from a wedding sampler from a recent Just Cross Stitch magazine. It is stitched with white cotton on evenweave.

Christening sampler

Christening sampler 2

Christening sampler 3

Thank you so much for visiting – we will be at Harewood House this coming weekend for their medieval event so fingers crossed for lovely weather!

Domestic Bliss

Hello everyone

I am having a rare weekend at home indulging in some domestic bliss.

As I type this I am eating my lunch – the very tasty Olive and Chilli Sourdough bread in the picture below that I made this morning with dried olives from my friend Martin and Suzie’s Cowley’s Fine Foods  accompanied by some delicious cheese from the local deli Radish.

Olive Sourdough

The recipe is by Jo Wheatley and is from the Sainsbury’s magazine a couple of months ago.

I have been doing a little gardening – thankfully my lovely new house has virtually nothing to do in that respect but I have just been tidying up the pots and later I will continue making a medieval cloak for my friend Luke.

Embroidery wise I am working on a christening present for Alice, my cousin’s daughter at the moment.All will be revealed when it is finished!

Mum and I will be going to Plymouth for the christening next weekend as they have very kindly asked me to be a godmother which is very lovely!

The recipient of my Spring Exchange through the Seasonal Exchange Blog , Stephanie , has now got her gift so I can post pics of it.

Spring Exchange

Spring Exchange 2

This pincushion is from the Blackbird Designs,  ‘ A Stitcher’s Journey’,  book and it is stitched on evenweave with Silk Mill thread. The charm is one I picked up at one of the knitting and stitching shows but you can get similar ones from Sitch Direct.

I backed it with some of the lovely fabric from my lovely friends Helen and Lucy at Material Goods and added a little pocket for scissors or an unpicker.

Well must be getting on with the sewing , hope you are having domestic fun as well, take care and thanks for visiting!

Merry Men

Hello everyone

Hope you are enjoying good weather because we have had a fantastic weekend at Sherwood, didn’t see Robin Hood but Little John was there and there were lots of merry men (and women) there.

The beer tent, the campfire (thanks Kat and Paul) and the excellent weather helped with this as did the brilliant organisation by Plantagenet Events – thanks for everything guys, a very enjoyable event.

As well as the fighting and weapons talks we got a chance to have a couple of walks in the woods, saw the Major Oak (bottom picture ) which is over a thousand years old and lots of other interesting trees.

Sherwood trees

Sherwood dying tree 1

Sherwood dying tree 2

Sherwood Major Oak

I also got a chance talk to some people about my embroidery and made a new friend, Seren, who I helped with making a new hat.

This was her first attempt at garment making and she did a brilliant job making this lined coif out of wool and linen which is all hand stitched. She also made a lined bag.

Sherwood Seren's hat

Sherwood Seren's hat 2

Sadly there are no more events for the next two weekends (how will I survive all that time in a house!) but I have plenty to be doing with making garments.

I am going to be working on a cloak for Luke this week and some helm decorations for other friends.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

A few lovely pictures

Hello there

Hope that you are all enjoying the lovely weather we have been having.

I am hoping that it will last as I am off tomorrow for another event – this time at Sherwood Forest  near Nottingham, home of the famed Robin Hood.

The forecast for the weekend is great which is very unusual for a British Bank Holiday so we shall see.

Normally we don’t have many pictures of us at events as we are in kit so my pics are limited to early morning or evening ones.

Luke, one of the members of the group, has been putting together a new website for Swords of Mercia so we have had some official photographers at the last two events and they have very kindly let me share their photos with you.

Thanks to Wendy and Kev for these excellent pictures firstly taken at Bolsover (the top one showing our St George’s Day costumes) and the rest from Rufford last weekend. Second pic is of lovely daughter Ellie and I am in my peasant outfit second from right in the third pic.

St George's Day event Bolsover

Ellie at Rufford

SoM at Rufford 1

SoM Knights at Rufford

Don’t the boys look amazing in their kit?

From left to right Sir William of Ashby, King Edward the 2nd, Sir Roger Mortimer and Sir John Neville aka Luke, Clive, Shane and Mark during the week!

We often get pictures taken by the public,  the ‘princesses’ , Ellie and Kerry more than me and at Rufford Ellie was asked to pose by a photographer who then Photoshopped this lovely trinity of pictures.

Ellie Rufford Trinity

His name is Stuart Daffin so thanks very much Stuart for your lovely work and letting me share it!

Have a lovely weekend and thanks for visiting.