Past Events

Read about where we have been and what we have done in the past. See what you may have missed out on! To see what's coming up click here.

Visit to The Weald & Downland Living Museum

Visit to The Weald & Downland Living Museum

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Sorry, this particular trip has been cancelled due to lack of interest

The Weald & Downland Living Museum is an open-air museum where rural houses and buildings have been rescued and reconstructed in the magnificent landscape of the South Down’s National Park. However it is more than that – it tells the story of English rural life and how people lived, worked and dressed.

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The Power of Colour

The Power of Colour

Saturday 16 March 2019

Please note that after the cancellation of the February AGM event, we will be holding a brief AGM during this study day. It will be in two parts: the first will be at the start of the day when the bulk of the AGM business will take place. The second part, immediately after lunch, will be the election of officers.

The history and meaning of colour is a fascinating one. Did you know that blue is the most common colour, think of all those blue jeans, It also has a calming effect and fashion consultants recommend wearing blue when going for an interview. It apparently symbolises loyalty and may be why it is used in so many uniforms.

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AGM & White Embroidery Accessories in the Victorian Period

AGM & White Embroidery Accessories in the Victorian Period

Saturday 02 February 2019

CANCELLED!! Due to hazardous weather conditions we have reluctantly decided to cancel this meeting. An abbreviated AGM will instead be held during the Study Day on March 16th 2019.

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Christmas Meeting

Christmas Meeting

Saturday 17 November 2018

What the English do well is the celebration of their history through the ritual surrounding their monarchy and this of course entails ‘dressing up’.

Shaun McCormack as a member of the Queen’s Bodyguard will tell us about this role, which will include the creation, recruitment, strength and state duties of The Guard but most importantly the state dress. He will bring along his uniform for close inspection and perhaps we can persuade him to put it on.

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Janet Arnold Study Day: Masculine Attire - It isn’t always Black or Blue

Janet Arnold Study Day: Masculine Attire - It isn’t always Black or Blue

Saturday 06 October 2018

Today women’s fashionable clothing comes in all shapes, colours and sizes and even age doesn’t necessarily become a restraining factor, but it is not so easy for men. Despite the kilt and the sarong, men-in-skirts has not really caught on.

Victorian men in their three-piece suits set a trend of dullness and uniformity but it was not always so.

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Visit to Killerton House

Visit to Killerton House

Saturday 14 July 2018

The current exhibition tells the story of two Killerton women who were on opposing sides of the Suffragette Movement and shows, how during the campaign from 1866 until 1928, women’s fashion changed and was exploited by the supporters of women’s suffrage.

Shelley Tobin, the curator, will tell us how the exhibition evolved and the history of the costume collection of Paulise de Bush.

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The University of Bristol Theatre Collection

The University of Bristol Theatre Collection

Thursday 24 May 2018

Dr. Jill Sullivan, acting Assistant Keeper, will give us a conducted tour for one and a half hours starting in the exhibition spaces where she will tell us about the Theatre Collection history and the collections generally. There is a limited amount of display space and unfortunately the majority of costumes are stored off site, which is not available for tours. However, there will be a small exhibition on Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh showing some of his costumes and items belonging to Leigh. We will then tour the store-rooms and finish in the library/reading room where we will have the opportunity to sit down and look in details at the work of costume designers such as Julia Trevelyan Oman, David Walker, Deirdre Clancy, Alan Tagg and others. Some of you may remember Deirdre Clancy who holds Oscar and BAFTA awards for costume design and came to talk to us about her work and the history of theatre costume at the 2016 AGM.

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Couturier or Dressmaker in C20th London Society

Couturier or Dressmaker in C20th London Society

Saturday 17 March 2018

What differentiates a couturier from a dressmaker? Why are some remembered and others forgotten? This study day explores some of the lesser-known couturiers and dressmakers of the twentieth century through surviving archives and objects in collections.
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AGM - Foale and Tuffin

AGM - Foale and Tuffin

Saturday 03 February 2018

It’s always good to welcome back someone who belongs to Bath and who has made his mark in the exciting world of Fashion Journalism. Iain R. Webb returns to tell us about two young, female designers from the sixties who set up their own fashion label and showed women could design, make and run a successful business.
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Christmas Meeting - Dress in the Time of Jane Austen

Christmas Meeting -
 Dress in the Time of Jane Austen

Saturday 18 November 2017

By the time of the WECS Christmas Meeting the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen will have already been celebrated or perhaps a better word is commemorated by her millions of fans, as she died at the very young age of 41. The places where she lived and died currently have numerous events about her work, as well as The Bodleian Library in Oxford and the British Library.

Fashionable dress did not feature much in her writing except where it served to enhance a character but she frequently wrote to her sister Cassandra about the latest fashions she saw in Bath or London. Neither did she include much about the politics of the day although her family were caught up in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars and she lived through some dramatic times with fashionable dress also undergoing some dramatic changes.

Sarah Jane will take us through these revolutionary times when for a short period London replaced Paris as the centre of the fashionable world with designs inspired by classical democracy.

Sarah Jane Downing is a freelance writer with a special interest in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She has written a number of books for the Shires Library as well as contributing to national magazines and newspapers.

Why not come in costume and really enter into the spirit of the age?

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Janet Arnold Study Day: Dressing to impress in the Seventeenth Century

Janet Arnold Study Day: Dressing to impress in the Seventeenth Century

Saturday 07 October 2017

Clothing has the power to speak and convey meaning and never was this more visible than in the seventeenth century.

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American Museum - Jazz Age

American Museum - Jazz Age

Saturday 19 August 2017

Join WECS for a get-yourself-there visit to the American Museum in Bath. This year’s special exhibition comes directly from The Fashion & Textiles Museum in London with over 100 fashionable objects from the 1920s, including flapper dresses, couture and ready-to-wear.

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Blaise Castle House Museum Visit 2

Blaise Castle House Museum Visit 2

Thursday 15 June 2017

This get-yourself-there visit will include a guided tour of the costume collection held the museum. Each tour is limited to 7 people and, if required, they will do two tours on this date.
Note that this visit is a repeat of the one organised for Thursday 18th May.

See full details.

Blaise Castle House Museum Visit 1

Blaise Castle House Museum Visit 1

Thursday 18 May 2017

This get-yourself-there visit will include a guided tour of the costume collection held the museum. Each tour is limited to 7 people and, if required, they will do two tours on this date.
Note that a second visit has been organised for Thursday 15th June.

See full details.

March Study Day - Communicating Fashion

March Study Day - Communicating Fashion

Saturday 18 March 2017

Do you follow fashion? We probably all do in one way or another as our dress changes according to social norms and the image we want to present to the world. But, for a long time being fashion conscience was the privilege of an elite, usually very rich, sending visual messages to the world of their social position. In a world without printing ideas spread, through dolls dressed in miniature versions of the latest fashions, and travel brought ideas from different cultures. With printed images and text and an expanding reading public fashion communication flourished and in the early eighteenth century the emergence of the aristocratic society magazines presented changes in style, taste and models of female beauty. Early publications, although not magazines as we now know them today such as Nikolaus von Heideloff’s Gallery of Fashion and Rudolph Ackermann’s Ackermann’s Repository contain exquisite hand-coloured fashion plates which are collector items in their own right.

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AGM and Lace in Fashion: A Collection Story at the Fashion Museum

AGM and Lace in Fashion: A Collection Story at the Fashion Museum

Saturday 04 February 2017

WECS is extremely fortunate to have one of the best costume museums with a world-class collection on its doorstep. The museum staff has been very supportive of the society and is very generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise. The collection of over 100,000 objects means that some objects get little exposure so it is exciting when in the process of caring for the collection beautiful pieces are revealed.

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Christmas Meeting - The Production and Consumption of Luxury Fashion in Paris 1795-1855

Christmas Meeting - The Production and Consumption  of Luxury Fashion in Paris 1795-1855

Saturday 19 November 2016

For the WECS Christmas meeting this year we continue the theme of consuming fashion but now we move to Paris and slightly upmarket.

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Janet Arnold Study Day: Structure and Artifice

Janet Arnold Study Day: Structure and Artifice

Saturday 01 October 2016

Perhaps structure and artifice is what fashionable dress is all about. Striving to make a statement, to be different or to be beautiful makes both men and women go to enormous lengths. A corset or a crinoline can give you a different silhouette but it is in the face and hair where we look to define someone as beautiful. An alabaster skin framed by and exquisite lace collar or a glorious head of hair topped with an eye-catching hat. Our speakers for this study day will explore how the face and head have been enhanced to create the illusion of beauty as defined by the fashions of the day.

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Visit to Wells Cathedral

Visit to Wells Cathedral

Wednesday 06 July 2016

A get yourself there visit to Wells for a look at the embroideries in the Cathedral followed by a tour of the embroidery exhibition “The Ornate, The Beautiful”.

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Visit: Priest’s House Museum and Fashion Museum

Visit: Priest’s House Museum and Fashion Museum

Saturday 07 May 2016

Join WECS for a “get yourself there” visit to these two museums in Dorset.

Details of how to get there and the location of pay and display car parking will be sent on booking.

See full details.

March Study Day - Fabrics in Fashion

March Study Day - Fabrics in Fashion

Saturday 19 March 2016

There is often some confusion between fabrics and fibres. Cotton, wool, silk and linen are classified as natural fibres and come from an animal or vegetable source, whilst nylon, polyester, acrylic, elastomeric and many others are artificially created starting from a chemical reaction of petroleum sourced chemicals, and are called synthetic fibres. Other synthetic fibres, artificially made from naturally occurring substances like cellulose and protein are called regenerated fibres and these include acetate, triacetate and casein.

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AGM - Designing Costume for Stage and Screen

AGM - Designing Costume for Stage and Screen

Saturday 06 February 2016

We have so many talented people who have made their home in the west of England and it is always wonderful to discover someone new.

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Christmas Meeting - The Story of a Department Store: Jollys of Bath

Christmas Meeting - The Story of a Department Store: Jollys of Bath

Saturday 21 November 2015

The nineteenth century brought a huge change to the way we bought our clothes and accessories from markets to Bazaars to Emporiums to Department Stores which we still have today.

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Practicality or a Flight of Fancy? - Beetles, Feathers and Furs

Practicality or a Flight of  Fancy? - Beetles, Feathers  and Furs

Saturday 03 October 2015

The use of animal products in dress and costume is an enormous subject which can be studied from many different viewpoints. There is probably no culture that has not used skins and feathers for practical reasons or for decorative purposes. Our four speakers approach the subject from very different angles according to their specialism whether conservation, social hierarchy, photographic history or historical interpretation.

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Visit to Pittards in Yeovil - visit 3

Visit to Pittards in Yeovil - visit 3

Tuesday 04 August 2015

Due to the popularity of our previous two visits we have arranged a third ‘get-yourself-there’ visit to Pittards leather factory in Yeovil to see how they select, prepare and treat skins for use in the garment, luggage and other industries. The tour will last approximately 75 minutes starting at 10.30 a.m. Each tour is limited to 10 places as this is a working factory and places will be located on a ‘first come’ basis for members only.
See full details.

Visit to Pittards in Yeovil - visit 2

Visit to Pittards in Yeovil - visit 2

Tuesday 02 June 2015

Our second ‘get-yourself-there’ visit to Pittards leather factory in Yeovil to see how they select, prepare and treat skins for use in the garment, luggage and other industries.

The tour will last approximately 75 minutes starting at 10.30 a.m. Each tour is limited to 10 places as this is a working factory and places will be located on a ‘first come’ basis for members only.

See full details.

Leeds

Leeds

Wednesday 13 May 2015 - Sunday 17 May 2015

As a follow-on to our trip to Manchester in 2013, a residential visit to Leeds has been organised visiting various costume and textile collections in the area. Again this will be a “get-yourself-there” trip, staying at The Met Hotel (also known as the Metropole) in the heart of the city.

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Visit to Pittards in Yeovil - visit 1

Visit to Pittards in Yeovil - visit 1

Tuesday 05 May 2015

A ‘get-yourself-there’ trip has been arranged to visit Pittards leather factory in Yeovil to see how they select, prepare and treat skins for use in the garment, luggage and other industries.

The tour will last approximately 75 minutes starting at 10.30 a.m. Each tour is limited to 10 places as this is a working factory and places will be located on a ‘first come’ basis for members only.

See full details.

March Study Day - The Georgians

March Study Day - The Georgians

Saturday 21 March 2015

The Georges are coming!

2014 is the three hundredth anniversary of the Hanoverian Dynasty. George Ludwig, Elector of Hanover was crowned King George I in 1714 and by 1830 Great Britain had had four kings named George. A little late in catching up with the celebrations WECS will look at the dress of this astonishing period of British history - from pannier to hoop, from breeches to pantaloons.

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Blitz Magazine 1980-91 and AGM

Blitz Magazine 1980-91 and AGM

Saturday 07 February 2015

First we have the business of the West of England Costume Society’s AGM to get out of the way. The record for this is 25 minutes.

Then the fun bit with Iain R Web, author and award winning fashion journalist...
Although to many of us the 1980s do not seem to fall into the category of ‘fashion history’, looking back it was a very distinctive period. The magazine Blitz, a fashion and pop culture magazine, founded in 1980 by university students Carey Labovitch and Simon Tesler was one of a trio of British “style” magazines which established a broad following internationally. It was very much a magazine of its time and the recent exhibition at the V&A From Club to Catwalk showed the influence club culture (which the magazine drew on) exerted on the fashion scene.

Jonathan Faiers, who was to have given a talk entitled 'Tartan: The textile that changed the world', is unable to do so. Instead WECS is privileged to have such a prestigious fashion journalist to talk to us and we are so grateful for his stepping in at such short notice.

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Christmas Meeting - The Dress of the New World

Christmas Meeting - The Dress of the New World

Saturday 22 November 2014

Unfortunately Dr Diane Waller is unable to join us for our Christmas meeting this year so the talk on the Textiles of the Balkans will be postponed.

WECS is frequently discovering the talent that it has within its membership and it is wonderful to welcome Judy Grant, a volunteer at the American Museum, who has researched American textiles and costume over a number of years. We tend to have an image of ‘settler dress’ that is gleaned from the movies or the iconic musicals such as ‘Oklahoma’ but how much different was it from European dress? Was there a lot of ‘recycling’ and just how connected was the ‘New World’ with the old? These are just some of the questions Judy may be able to answer as she gives us the inside story on the costume collection at the American Museum.

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Second time around:the reuse and restyling of clothing

Second time around:the reuse and restyling of clothing

Saturday 04 October 2014

Fashion has always been about the latest styles and is constantly in search of the new but has the ‘new’ necessarily to be brand new?
See full details.

Imagine... Lace at Waddesdon

Imagine... Lace at Waddesdon

Friday 05 September 2014

Visit to Waddesdon Manor including guided tour of the exhibition 'Imagine... Lace at Waddesdon' and a tour of the textile stores.

Continuing Waddesdon Manor's contemporary programme, lace-makers and selected artists have been invited to respond to the collection at Waddesdon, which includes historic lace acquired by Baroness Edmond de Rothschild (1853-1935).
See full details.

Visit: Kaffe Fassett at the American Museum

Visit:  Kaffe Fassett at the American Museum

Saturday 23 August 2014

Inspired by the review of the Kaffe Fassett Exhibition in the last issue of WECS Wardrobe, this last minute, get-yourself-there visit will be an opportunity to see the exhibition without the crowds and also get up close to those wonderful quilts.

Be prepared to be absorbed into a world of colour and inspired to start a new knitting or stitching project.

See full details.

Horsehair factory and Shoe museum - 2

Horsehair factory and Shoe museum - 2

Wednesday 09 July 2014

A morning visit to the John Boyd factory in Castle Cary to see their manufacturing process using horse hair.
Afternoon visit to the Shoe Museum in Street and also the Clarkes' archives.
This is a second chance to join us at this popular venue.
See full details.

Horsehair factory and Shoe museum

Horsehair factory and Shoe museum

Wednesday 21 May 2014

A morning visit to the John Boyd factory in Castle Cary to see their manufacturing process using horse hair.
Afternoon visit to the Shoe Museum in Street and also the Clarkes' archives.
See full details.

Dressing the Little Dears

Dressing the Little Dears

Saturday 15 March 2014

This study day will look at early children's clothes through the eyes of a reconstructor, a museum curator, a collector, and a social anthropologist and see how childhood has been viewed through clothes.
See full details.

AGM - Dressed for War

AGM - Dressed for War

Saturday 01 February 2014

After the business of the AGM has been completed Nina Edwards will give a talk entitled: Dressed for War: How clothing mattered in the First World War.
See full details.

Christmas Meeting - Sumptuous Silks - Japanese kimono from 1600 to present day

Christmas Meeting - Sumptuous Silks - Japanese kimono from 1600
to present day

Saturday 23 November 2013

Japan has a very rich textile history, the major focus of artistic expression being the kimono. Anna Jackson - Keeper of the Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum - will examine the style, decoration and social significance of the luxury garments created during the Edo Period (1615- 1868), when a highly fashion-conscious consumer society developed. It will also explore changes to this traditional form of dress since the late nineteenth century and the status of kimono in Japan today.
See full details.

Layers of fashion - Take II - recreating Patterns of Fashion dresses

Layers of fashion - Take II - recreating Patterns of Fashion dresses

Saturday 05 October 2013

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of WECS in 2013, on the occasion of the 14th Janet Arnold day, we have decided to repeat the event held for the 5th Janet Arnold day in 2004. This time using three of Janet’s Patterns of Fashion books and stretching the skills of WECS members to greater heights. All the patterns in these books were taken from original garments found in museum collections from the Fashion Museum in Bath, Salisbury Museum, the Clive House Museum in Shrewsbury to the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
See full details.

Cottonopolis

Cottonopolis

Thursday 19 September 2013 - Sunday 22 September 2013

Special visits have been organised to The Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall with its famous dress collection; the banners in the conservation department at the People’s History Museum; the textile and weaving machinery at the Museum of Science & Industry; as well as a guided walk through the streets of Cottonopolis; and the Hat Works Museum in Stockport.
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Chertsey Museum - Day & Night - from the bedroom to the ballroom: 1929-1939

Chertsey Museum - Day & Night - from the bedroom to the ballroom: 1929-1939

Tuesday 18 June 2013

After Grace Evans, curator at Chertsey Museum, came to speak to WECS at ‘Glamour Day’ last year she invited the society to visit the museum to see its new exhibition, which focuses on the glamour of the 1930s, and also view some of the Olive Matthews collection.

Grace will give us a ‘behind the scenes visit to look at some iconic pieces from this amazing nationally significant costume collection which was started by Olive Matthews. Born in 1887 Olive Mary Matthews started collecting in her early childhood and in the 1960s with the help of Sidney Oliver set up a trust to protect the collection. In 1969 the Trust purchased ‘The Cedars’ and in conjunction with Chertsey Urban District Council the new Chertsey Museum was opened. Olive Matthews died, aged 92 in 1979 but was able to take an active part in how her collection was displayed in the early years of the museum.
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Lace for Peacocks and Peahens

Lace for Peacocks and Peahens

Saturday 27 April 2013

The lecture will follow the development of both bobbin and needlepoint laces and their use in fashionable dress through this period and into the reign of Charles I. Original lace from the period will be available for study. Details to be confirmed.
See full details.

Seeing Red - March Study Day

Seeing Red - March Study Day

Saturday 23 March 2013

To celebrate the 40th or Ruby anniversary of WECS this study day is devoted to red and its significance in the clothing and accessories of English culture. The warmest of colours, associated with fiery heat, passion, romance and danger, the connotations of red in the west are juxtaposed to those of the east, where in the Chinese culture red brings luck, prosperity and joy and in India simplicity, purity and candor.
See full details.

Passion for Fashion

Passion for Fashion

Saturday 02 February 2013

After the business of the AGM and electing a new chair and secretary, we start off our 2013 Ruby Celebrations with a talk by Rosemary Harden
See full details.

The Thin Red Line - Recreating military uniforms for modern wear.

The Thin Red Line - Recreating military uniforms for modern wear.

Saturday 17 November 2012

To introduce our special 40th Anniversary in 2013 we have invited Chris Seals from Farthingales Costumes to bring along a selection of his wonderful military uniforms, particularly the red ones, and talk to us about how he researches and makes them.
See full details.

Glitter and Glamour

Glitter and Glamour

Saturday 06 October 2012

The modern understanding of glamour started at the beginning of the twentieth century when the influence of Orientalism and the exotic brought a desire for theatrical display and sexual assertion, then films, luxurious liners and fast cars became associated with glamour. On the other hand ‘glitter’ has historically always gone together with wealth and is so intrinsically bound to ‘glamour’, the twinkle of the 1920s beaded dresses or the jewellery.
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Dents Gloves

Dents Gloves

Thursday 27 September 2012

Since 1777, Dents has been handcrafting the world’s finest leather gloves in Warminster in Wiltshire. On this event we go and see what goes into making gloves the tradional way.
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Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Monday 20 August 2012

We have arranged a day at the open air museum to include a ‘behind the scenes’ tour after lunch with Leslie Parker, focusing on the historic clothing worn on the site.
See full details.

Trowbridge Museum

Trowbridge Museum

Wednesday 30 May 2012

The town of Trowbridge was a renowned centre for the production of woollen cloth and at its height of prosperity in the 19th century was known as the ‘Manchester of the West’.
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The Dress of Ordinary People

The Dress of Ordinary People

Saturday 17 March 2012

The title of this study day arose out of the work of John Styles in his publication The Dress of the People: everyday fashion in eighteenth century England
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AGM & Luxurious and Fashionable: Whitework embroideries in the 18th century

Saturday 04 February 2012

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Christmas meeting - Brittany au fil de l'aiguille - Pat Poppy

Christmas meeting - Brittany au fil de l'aiguille - Pat Poppy

Saturday 19 November 2011

Have you ever wondered why the ladies of Brittany wear those astonishingly tall, lace coifs as part of their traditional costume?
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Kelmscott House

Kelmscott House

Thursday 20 October 2011

The summer home of William Morris, Kelmscott Manor is a Grade 1 listed farmhouse built in 1600.
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Janet Arnold Study Day - Shops and Shopping

Janet Arnold Study Day - Shops and Shopping

Saturday 08 October 2011

The pleasure of searching for that desirable item of fashion has long been with us and as we will see stimulated both creativity and the economy.
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