Monday, 10 May 2010

Making Progress

D'you see what I did there with the title? Eh?! Geddit?!! A little play on words for you...

Elizabeth's 1578 Summer Progess brought her to East Anglia and she visited Thetford en route to Norwich. Never one to let a tenous connection pass uncommemorated, I was invited by Melissa at Ancient House Museum at Thetford to be 'in residence' as Queenie for a day. This was fun! I did my dressing up/stripping off talk, did a speech about my Progress, took some questions and then the day was rounded off by appearing as guest of honour at a Tudor banquet prepared by the museum club children.

The questions from the children were amazing; very serious and well thought out. One lad asked me what I thought the greatest achievement of my reign was, and another wanted to know my views on Catholicism in Norfolk. Then I found my Achilles heel- the Janes. Apparently, in my head, Jane Seymour and Jane Grey are totally interchangeable. Oops! Realising I was getting into sticky territory I had to launch a rescue package of stock phrases such as 'I care to think not of those wretches' and 'the Block is too good for some'. To top it off, I unleashed my favourite escape clause: I glowered at the adults and threatened to send them to the Tower for allowing their children to ask such insolent questions. Off with their heads!

As a result of that splendid day I got a couple more bookings; one to a school in Thetford and another to the Norfolk Lacemakers Society.

At the school I spoke at morning Assembly, did the dressing thing and also made pomanders out of oranges and cloves (quite difficult in costume). At lunch time I sat in the staff room, where I think the teachers must have thought they were sharing some kind of stress induced communal hallucination: me, white-faced and bewigged, drinking tea and reading the ESPO catalogue.

At the Norfolk Lacemakers Society I arrived as a sort of Queen-o-gram in the middle of their Christmas lunch. The Lunch had been postponed till February due to the snow, but it was lovely. Surrounded by all their delicate, gossamer lacy creations I spent the day painfully aware of the comparatively inexpert stitching holding my costume together. The ladies were particularly interested in the construction of my dress, having recently been treated to a visit by those Goddessess of historical costume, the Tudor Tailors. Eek- but mine seemed to stand up to their elegant scrutiny! Some of the ladies were kind enough to share their latest project with me. They were painstakingly reconstructing a piece of 16th Century gold and silver lace held in Norwich Carrow House Textiles Museum. They'd managed to find real gold and silver thread (like wire to the touch) and a patient husband had handmade individual sequins from a sheet of metal- meory fails but I think they were thin brass). The attention to detail these ladies maintained, their genorosity and willingness to share their skills and knowledge with me made this a really special couple of hours. Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment