A Dress Fit for a King - Project progress

Elements of the Ann Bangham dress with gold thread

On the first floor of the mansion you can find our new exhibition, 'A Dress Fit for a King'. This exhibition is designed to offer visitors to reflect on the life of women in the eighteenth century and notably the life of Ann Bangham, wife of Berrington's original owner Thomas Harley. The main feature of this exhibition is an original eighteenth century dress which was owned by Ann.

Now, thanks to all of the support from our visitors, we have engaged conservator Melangell Penrhys and replica costume maker Michelle Barker to reconstruct the dress and ensure visitors will be able to see it for years to come. Watch the videos and hear about Melangell and Michelle's work.

Keep your eyes on this article as we update it with notes from the conservators, and stay in the loop with how the restoration project is coming along and their progress.

Latest posts

13 Aug 18

Battling the seams

Have a look at what Mela has managed today: 'Back in today after a little summer break and I tackled the back seam. I came armed with an extra sharp and fine needle which I had avoided before as the eye is so small it is really hard to thread! I succeeded in this however and keeping the two sides of the fabric abutted together stitched the whole back seam. I had a helper in the morning as well, in the form of a student on work experience and she helped me with starting to use humidification to reduce the creasing on the train piece so it can be stitched onto the rest of the bodice and train. Kit also used her pattern making skills to make me a template for the left sleeve using the existing right sleeve. We just need to decide on what fabric to use for this missing element! '

A young student working on the dress as it is laid out on the table

20 Jul 18

Petticoat relief

Have a look to see what Mela was up to today: "A short day today, but I managed to finish the stitching down of petticoat pleats and was thrilled when I got my tape measure onto the finished product to find that the measurements of each side are the same. Phew! The next puzzle is how to re-stitch the back seam of the petticoat which was unstitched when the petticoat was taken apart to be stored flat. Ideally it would be done with the petticoat inside out and then the petticoat turned back the right way, but this would mean too invasive and rough handling and could cause abrasion and tangling of the gold threads should they catch on each other or on the silk….I will need to be sleep on it."

A picture of the notes on a board about eighteen century dresses

12 Jul 18

A 'scary task'

Read on to see where Mela is up to: "This week I started the slightly scary task of pitting in stitches to secure the pleating that we had put into the petticoat last time. Both sides are different and one is pleated a lot more regularly than the other but I tell myself that I must stick with how the fabric wants to fold and not impose my own needle to neaten and make things look even and symmetrical. It is very hard to get the needle through even one layer of this fabric let alone several together, so a good thimble technique is required. At the end of the day I had completed one side of the petticoat, stitching down to make them sharply pleated, as they would have been. It has been a busy day with visitors today as well and I wave at them from behind the glass. I have also managed to find time to get out and give two short talks. Whenever I’m out of the room, on a break, I am greeted with: ‘Oh look it’s the lady who was sewing!’, this gives me the opportunity to have little conversations about the project with all sorts of people who are all so interested in the mantua and the beauty of the fabric."