I had always had a hankering for dressing in period costume and I get to indulge this hobby on a regular basis as part of Ayres and Graces. Nick Gravestock is the other half of this duo and we have great fun entertaining visitors to Tudor houses. Haddon Hall is a particular favourite of mine, and we are part of their Autumn season later this month, on Sunday 20 October.
Haddon Hall is becoming renowned for its varied programme of music held throughout the season.
Performances are held at 12:00 noon and 2:00pm, providing time to us to cause a stir in the cafe by mingling with the visitors. The performances are included in the price of the ticket so we are mostly providing background music but many people sit and enjoy several songs before moving on. It is also fun to explain about the music and costumes.
My costume was made for me by a specialist dressmaker who has a fascinating well of knowledge on materials and styles. We struggled at first to find a ruff that didn’t constrict at the neck. Fortunately Eleanor of Toledo wore a more open style towards the end of the 16th Century so we were able to take inspiration from an authentic source.
We will be doing a couple of stints at Haddon Hall again in December as part of their fantastic Tudor Christmas. It gets quite cold singing in the Great Hall, but it’s amazing how many layers of M & S thermals can be fitted under a kirtle and gown! (Other providers of thermal underwear are available).