The volunteer costume group

The costume group at Buckland Abbey, Garden and Estate © Julian Palmer

The costume group at Buckland Abbey, Garden and Estate

Our volunteer costume group started in the early 2000s to make costumes for our school visitors as a way of enhancing children's understanding of life in Tudor times. Over the years they’ve researched costumes generally and have become more authentic with the patterns and the fabrics. The costume group picks up the story…

The main aim is authenticity
We started off with just the Tudor period children's clothing but quickly became involved in interpreting portraits - first Sir Francis Drake and later his second wife, Lady Sydenham.

Each project involved several years in the research and making of the outfits. We do use sewing machines for the long seams but the rest of the sewing is done by hand. Our next interpretation project is to make a copy of Lady Seaton's lace gown, as shown in the portrait opposite the chapel. The biggest challenge is sourcing suitable fabric, and we have built up some very good contacts for all our fabrics.

Costumed characters around the abbey
A few years ago, we began a tradition of our room guides wearing authentic costume on various days if they liked. To this end we’ve made outfits for anyone who wants one.

We started with Tudor outfits for males and females and we now make costumes from the monks and Lady Amicia in the medieval period to the Edwardian era in the twentieth century. Most of these outfits are for ladies but we do have a growing group of men who will don a costume.

Try on a frock
We also make costumes for the general public to try on - those in the Lifetimes room are especially adapted to give the impression of the complete costume, in particular the girls' gowns.

Come see us
Throughout the year we help organise various costumed events, servants' days, costume days, Christmas festivities and, coming soon, the new Time Warp (watch this space). We’re busy and happy making and wearing these lovely outfits. You’re welcome to come and see us in the sewing room at the abbey on Tuesday mornings.