Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Who's Lynn is it anyway?

It was changed from Bishop's Lynn to King's Lynn by Henry VIII, who seemed to like taking things away from Bishops. But today, it was definitely Queen's Lynn- well, The Vancouver Quarter was mine, until rain put an end to my reign.

I was commissioned as part of Western Area Museums Outreach to promote the museums service in Lynn. I had to stand in the street as Queenie, giving out leaflets and vouchers and generally 'engaging' with the general public.

I am frequently unleashed on the general public, but only the ones who have chosen to come into a museum or visit a history fair. But today, on the streets of King's Lynn, the public was more general than usual. In spite of my white face, ginger wig and brown teeth, there seemed to be a 50/50 divide in opinion on my identity. Some people recognised me immediately...as Queen Victoria. Others took a wild guess and got the right answer. One person asked if I was Cinderella.

People in museums are now quite used to the idea of Living History. I forget that people not in museums are less likely to embrace the notion of a conversation about the tooth worm. But I had fun going into the dental section in Superdrug and haranguing the assistant.

The Queen's Progress will stop off at Shouldham Village Hall tomorrow. After the big feature about me in the EDP today, hopefully I'll get a full house. If I don't, heads will roll...

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Ladies Who Lunch, and an Undercroft Original

A couple of weeks ago I had the enormous pleasure of speaking for the Norfolk Ladies Luncheon Club at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel. I was treated not only to a very warm welcome by the hundred-strong crowd, but also to a delicious meal- as surely befits Her Highness- and great fun was had by all. Afterwards I had to dash off, Cinderella-like, as the clock was about to strike Home Time at my son's school.

I got there with one minute to spare and the remnants of my fake Elizabethan tooth decay still in evidence. I make him so proud...

This week ended splendidly with a visit to Strangers' Hall in Norwich for Queenie. Find more info on Stranger's Hall here: http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk . There's a chance that the real Queenie came to Strangers' in 1578- she definitely passed through nearby Charing Cross- so with that in mind the afternoon had some added lustre.

Under the banner of 'Queenly Attire' I set up my costumes in the Undercroft and was plied with tea and helpfulness by Curator Cathy and her band of merry staff: Bethan, Neal, Maz and Rachel. An audience of 20 or so very charming folk attended, listened, took photos and asked questions. It was also a first outing for my unfinished Armada Costume, which served as a useful contrast to the Pelican Portrait dress (red one) when it came to details. The sumptuous fabrics looked great in that stony setting!

The afternoon was topped off by a photoshoot (!) for the local paper, the Eastern Daily Press, as they are doing a feature on Living History. Having my picture taken was terrible for me...ok, I'm lying, I loved every minute of it. However, I was at pains to make it clear that I am a Live Interpreter not a Re-enactor. But I'm not holding my breath for the caption.

Check out the EDP this week for the feature on Queenie!

Monday, 5 July 2010

"Aiglets, I've had a few..."

...as Frank Sinatra sang. At least, I think it was something like that.

But anyhow, I was delighted to receive a gift of a beautiful pair of fancy gold aiglets from my friend Annie today. She's also handmade some gorgeous lacing for me on her lucet, in black, grey and gold. The new aiglets will go splendidly onto the ends of the lacing (I've been done up with an old bootlace for the last couple of venues- shh...don't tell).

I know she's a stickler for detail so the bootlace was probably more than she could stand, but nevertheless it was incredibly kind of her to do this for me, so thank you Annie!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

I think I've finally found myself

At last ! I got the cartridge pleating done around the top of the kirtle. This was at great personal cost to my fingertips. They're still a bit tingly- I can't be doing with thimbles you see, so I was digitally naked (eek) whilst pushing the needle through multiple layers of velvet and lining to attach the kirtle to the bodice. It is now done, finito, attached, and the whole thing is proudly adorning the tailor's dummy.

But, like some haberdashery-based Frankenstein, I have created a monster. In dressing the me-sized dummy I find myself with what appears to be a post-execution Mary Queen of Scots in the house. The undecorated black velvet gown has a very sombre look to it and of course, the dummy HAS NO HEAD! Despite the lack of eyes, facial expressions or indeed face, somehow it is at this very moment managing to give me a haughty yet malevolent glare from just over my left shoulder. There's something most unnerving about having a headless version of yourself lurking behind you.

But at least I now know where I stand.