I developed a 30-minute talk which started at the bottom layer of the costume (the shift) and worked upwards until I was fully dressed.
Originally, on the designated days, I made the talk known to the public by way of a dramatic announcement over the loudspeaker system at the castle, until this was found to be disrupting the Dungeons Tours. Therefore I had to find another way to grab an audience, so I wandered about barking for business in my shift (quite a shock for the unsuspecting Castle visitors). Aided and abetted by the wonderful Vera as my Ladies' maid, I usually managed to scrape up 3 sittings of about 50 people per day: the usual mixed bag of non-English-speaking tourists, harrassed mothers with toddlers in fairy wings and colourful wellies, highly interested ladies of a certain age, and their resigned and rather disappointed husbands.
But word spread, and I developed a fan base of one slightly obsessed 9 year old girl who turned up in her Disney princess costume to see me every time I was on. I expanded the talk to include details on Queenie's 1578 progress to Norwich, and sent for a new wig, 'The Queen Elizabeth Deluxe', all the way from Covent Garden. Audiences were generous with their comments, even though I still panic slightly and mix up the Janes (Seymour and Grey) if I'm overexcited.
The costume began to evolve. My friend Sarah made me a beautiful little pearl headdress and also a jewelled belt from which to hang Elizabeth's prayer-book (a little Bible I covered in black silk). My friend Annie organised my face paint for me and made a giant sack to keep the costume in. Numerous acquaintances made it their mission in charity shops to find any number of pearl necklaces for me to dismantle and re-use. Regular visitors to the castle became familiar with Queen Elizabeth, and she was even granted a Dudley on a couple of occasions.
Then- shock, horror- I got a new job. I moved from the Castle to work as Live Interpretation Officer with the Learning Team at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum. This was brilliant for Rachel but not so good for Queenie, as the building is 18th Century and Lizzie is most definitely not. Whatever would happen next...?