Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The swish of Charlotte's skirts

The Telegraph & Argus publishes an article on 'Jane Eyre, the well-dressed governess', a special costumed performance held today by the History Wardrobe costume at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:

Picture source: Gillian Stapleton in the replica gown

Those who visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum might sometimes fancy they can hear the swish of Charlotte's skirts or the tread of Branwell's footsteps as they explore the historic site.
And today it was not just the Brontes, but also their characters, which were being brought to life by the museum.
In a special day of costumed presentations, visitors took a trip through the life of Charlotte Bronte's character Jane Eyre.
Dressed in a replica of Jane's best dress' - a silver-grey silk gown - historian Gillian Stapleton gave three, 20-minute presentations in front of the Apostle's cupboard, a piece of furniture belonging to the parsonage which features in the novel.
A brown and cream pinafore represented the kind of simple dress Jane would have worn during her school days before she became a governess for the mysterious Mr Rochester.
And a demure and modest gown, based on the dress Jane would have been wearing on her wedding day, was also on show at the event.
The audience also got to have a look at the type of shoes, bonnet, corset and bridal wreath Charlotte Bronte's heroine would have sported.
Gillian, who researched and made all of the clothing for her company, the History Wardrobe, said recreating the dress was an immediate way to illustrate history.
She said: "So few genuine examples survive and they are usually in such a fragile state that they cannot be exhibited.
"With replica clothing you can actually see the items and you can see them being worn, which is very nice for people because you can see how they actually move."
The presentation day was one of the first activities taking place at the parsonage during the school summer holidays.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, events to entertain visitors of all ages will take place. Guided walks, hands-on history and arts and crafts will feature alongside a couple of guest appearances' from the Bronte sisters' infamous brother Branwell.
Museum director Alan Bentley said it was important to introduce new exhibits and events.
He said: "Although we are quite high profile and get visitors from across the world, the bread and butter of our visitors are from the local area who come to find out about some famous Yorkshire names.
"It's important for us to develop things for people to come and see on return visits."
He also said it was also important that the most up-to-date Bronte information was available for visitors to access during their visits. (Rebecca Wright)
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