Thursday 11 June 2015

Killerton House visit - Part two ... The F- word exhibition!

Having spent a wonderful few hours in the workroom at Killerton it was time for me to step away from the beautiful dresses and costumes that were contained with in its walls and move off to look at this years fashion exhibition - The F-word.  This explores how revolutionary innovations in fabric, cut and fastenings have changed the shape of fashion for ever.   The exhibition is on the top landing and some origins of the collection were from a passionate enthusiast Paulise de Bush, who  happened upon a cache of beautiful clothes which were on the point of being thrown away and these form the basis of this important collection.  Paulise also kept all her mothers clothes as well and Killerton have these in their collection.  Paulise died in 1975 and had written a letter to a great friend and asked that they might find a home for her collection and luckily they are looked after now by the National Trust and go on display at this stunning house.

Killerton hosts an annual exhibition of fashion selected from its collection of more than 10,000 items.
This is over two centuries of fashion and textile history and is really wonderful both to the curious visitor of the house and to fashion students and historians.  They can not display everything that they have in their collection for space reasons as well looking after the fabrics but it is rotated.  In addition to that you can go on line and there are photographs and details of thousands of items from ball gowns to underwear and shawls.

The displays are amazing and behind some there original little films running for you to look at.  The
thought and the vision that has gone into this exhibition is outstanding. There are hats, both ladies and gents and stockings, shoes and several decades of fashion are represented from the earliest gentleman's coat C1690 to a knitted bridal gown from the 1970's.

The 20th century is particularly well represented with couture pieces by Patou, Chanel and Molyneux.  Many of the 20th century dresses were worn by Paulise de Bush's mother.  As you know from yesterday my favourites ( which are not currently on display) are the Georgian gown and the woven silk dress C1700's.  This is possibly because they were there for me to look at and I was so
close to the exquisite detail.  There is a section from the 1960,s and 1940/50's as well on display and an amazing informal polonaise gown C1790 which is embroidered with fine crewel work.

There is also a displays from an exciting design competition and Shelley also keeps a close connection with fashion and textile students at a number of colleges.  Many of the students use the collections as inspiration and for practical research.

On this floor there is a room which you open a wardrobe door to get into and inside there are robust replicas of costumes for children and adults alike to try on and take photo's.

Wandering around this great exhibition there are several corsets on display and there is one that was
designed for shop display C1890 with a wasp waistline ( how did they breathe!)  I have a friend who would have loved these as she is a collector!

By the dressing up room where the 1970's knitted wedding dress is displayed there is also a quilt.  It is displayed on the wall for all to see it was a staff and volunteer project and the object was to raise funds for specialised storage of the textiles and fashion collections.  The quilt was designed by Charlotte Eddington who is the assistant to the costume curator (Shelley).  This quilt was mostly stitched by hand by a very dedicated team of 10 ladies, some of which had never quilted before!  The quilt was started in 2012 and finished in July 2014.  The raising of funds was done by selling raffle tickets to members of the public across the country. In August 2014 the quilt was entered into The Festival of Quilts competition at the NEC in Birmingham and was awarded 'Highly Commended' and came 4th out of 47 entries in the group quilt category.

In February 2015, with over 2000 tickets being sold to win this beautiful quilt the quilt was raffled.  The lucky winner decided to donate the quilt to Killerton so that its legacy will live on for generations to see.  The quilt has 336 leaves, 140 apples, 84 blossoms and 20 bees in its design.

In addition to the quilt there is a display cabinet with stitchery items in there plus some 'pockets' which would have been worn under the dresses worn with hoops.

Our time with Shelley had sadly come to an end and it was after 2pm in the afternoon so we said farewell to a lovely lady with an abundance of knowledge and I could have listened to until the wee small hours of the morning!

We went and had a drink and a sandwich and then we had a look in the gift shop and a little walk around.

There is so much to see and do at Killerton and not just for adults.  The house is beautiful with The Entrance Hall, Study, Music Room, The Long Corridor, The Drawing Room, The Library, Dinning Room, Staircase, Fashion Collection and the Laundry.

Outside you have The Bear Hut, Rock Garden, Terrace, Ice House, The Goyle, The Memorial, The ladies Garden, The Stable Block, The Walled Kitchen Garden ( with the car park) and The Lodge.

The facilities are fabulous with restrooms that are beautiful, Cafe, Shop and Garden Hut as well as a second hand book stall.

Through out the year Killerton have events going on and they are advertised on their website but here is a couple of thing for your diaries ladies and gents....

Theatre in the Garden. Bring rugs or chairs and enjoy a historic evening in the gardens.

Emma on Thursday 16th July gates open at 6.30pm ( starts at 7.30pm)
Twelfth Night  on Tuesday 4th August gates open at 6pm  ( starts at 7pm)
Mr Stink  Saturday 15 August and starts at 6pm.
Advanced tickets available - call 0844 2491895

Killerton Cider and Apple Festival - Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th of October 10.00am - 5pm

Christmas at Killerton - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Saturday 21 November - Sunday 3 January 2016  open daily -

There is so much more including a Harp Concert, Father Christmas and Dine out Specials.

For information go to their web site or call 01392 881345

Killerton House

 When I was talking to Shelley she told me that in 2016 the Fashion Exhibition is going to be  called - Fashion to Dye For and I for one must go and see this.  This interests me greatly as my regular readers will know I love natural dyeing of vintage fabrics and have done quite a bit of this myself so I will be extremely interested in this next year.  The work that goes on behind the scenes of Killerton is immense and the staff are all so enthusiastic and protective of this house and its legacies.

I went into the shop and I brought home these! Well you have got to don't you think?

I enjoyed my day there and will be going back to explore some more at some point because I just did not have time to see it all and walk around the vast grounds and the apple orchards.  This is a wonderful place and well worth a visit.  I would like to thank all the staff at Killerton and especially the ladies in the cafe who revived me
when I got there with a wonderful coffee and shortbread, Shelley Tobin who has so much knowledge that I would like to spend so much more time with and chat and learn and Bryony Wilde who was wonderful and had been talking to Nicole from Pretty Nostalgic and helped organise this...... Plus Kim Collins who was the other lady who came along on behalf of Pretty Nostalgic.  We had a lovely late lunch together and will be keeping in touch, It was so lovely to meet her.  Kim has a real love of Killerton and volunteers there as well as having been a member of staff in the past.  She is lucky enough to live on the estate and of course walking around with Kim, she was able to answer questions that I had as well. Now it is time for me to get some stitching done and the weather outside does not look so great, I just heard a rumble of thunder so we shall see....

And I leave you now with some more images from the collection, I hope you have enjoyed a little look at this exquisite House and the textiles that are on show.  I have only been able to show so much so please if you can make the trip and see for yourself do so, you will not be disappointed!...  Do not forget it is stitch of the week day tomorrow so pop back and have a look its a beauty!

Have a great day and Happy Stitching!

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