Saturday, 1 November 2014


HAVING RECENTLY VISITED THE SOMERSET RURAL LIFE MUSEUM IN GLASTONBURY WITH A TEXTILE FAIR TAKING PLACE IN THE WONDERFUL ABBEY BARN THERE, I CAME AWAY WITH TWO DRESSMAKING PATTERNS WHICH THEY SELL FOR 50P. EACH. I used to buy smocks and sun bonnets in the past when I was selling folk art and rustic tools and they always sold so well - and then they disappeared, no doubt to the many Rural life museums that were set up by local Councils in most Counties and re-animation days for country fairs. The sun bonnets had a deep frill at the back to protect the neck from sun and with a pretty ribbon bow at the front were a charming fashion.  Similarly the male coarse linen smocks made from a material called drabbet and with distinctive colours for the body and special patterns for the smocking, sometimes denoting the job of the wearer, carter, shepherd, etc., they suited all shapes and sizes and were obviously comfortable and easy to wear.  Some could be turned round so that they were worn on one side to the front all week and on Sundays the other side looked clean and spruce for church going.    The Thomas Hardy novels and films revived interest in these ancient garments and of course Larkrise to Candleford and other 'bonnet' films did the same for19th century country clothing.
I recently sold some spotted muslin bed curtains to the wardrobe ladies and they turned them into good period dresses for the two sisters, when they were filming Larkrise nearby at Lacock, and I think they were made with 'leg o' mutton sleeves!  Another time they found a pair of pretty parasols, exactly matching, which were on their shopping list! 

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