Copenhagen – costume old and new

As re-enactors we spend a lot of time trying to be as authentic as we can when it comes to costume, most of it we make ourselves and so we visit churches to see effigies, look at manuscripts and illustrated bibles to try and get clues about things.

The best source is always a portrait but sadly those are very rare for the early 1300s which is the era we do most of the time.

The Tudor period is luckily a different situation as it was very fashionable to have your portrait painted so there are lots of lovely examples and Mum and I really enjoyed the paintings saw at Frederiksborg Castle.

Although I don’t make Tudor costume myself my lovely friend Kat does and Ellie has her costumed volunteers at Hardwick Hall so I still like to look at these and take pictures for them to use.

One day when I have more time I would love to re-enact this period if only for the blackwork I can wear so all of this research will come in useful.

Just look at these wonderful examples of beaded headwear, lace and jewellery. All of these ladies lived from the mid 1500s to mid 1600s and are members or relatives of the Danish Royal family at that time.

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What really struck me was just how similar the fashions were to our Tudor and Elizabethan fashions of the time, I had not expected there to be so much similarity across Europe in dress.

We were also very impressed with the way that costume had been used in the interpretation for the children. The whole of the old wine cellar was devoted to an exhibition of the life of Christian 4th of Denmark who was born in 1577 at Frederiksborg Castle.

The best thing about the exhibition was that portraits of the young prince and his family had been used to recreate costume that children could try on.

They were elaborate and very authentic reproductions from the front with splits and ties at the back which would be easy to try on but also in a range of sizes so every child could try on something.

There were boys’ as well as girls’ costume, plus mini armour and a photo area with drapes to make it look like a portrait background.

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This one was our favourite – the portrait at the back shows the King’s family and there are four dresses to try on with head dresses as there were three daughters in the portrait.

This is a photo of the painting from the National Museum of Denmark’s website.

Christian's family

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Genius idea and there were lots of children enjoying the displays which also included food displays and an area where they could practise writing with a quill pen and colour pictures of costume.

I showed all of this to Ellie as inspiration for her interpretation as although I have seen costume in properties I have visited in the UK nothing has been done on this scale.

We have our first re-enactment event of the season this weekend at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire  so if you are in the area please come and say hello.

There is plenty to see and do and there may well be dragons involved at some point as the theme for the weekend is the celebration of St George’s Day. It has been beautiful weather here this week so we hope it will continue for the weekend 🙂

Have a good weekend whatever you do and thanks for visiting.

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