Sunday night period drama withdrawals. Gentleman Jack has finished and Sundays have become mundane, you know, like when you were at school and Monday morning loomed and Sundays were the ultimate enemy. One of my favourite Sunday night dramas was ITV’s Victoria which I now know is on a long break between series. It’s so sad.
However to fill my Queen Victoria drama void is a Yorkshire delight! During the drama’s first series Harewood House in Leeds, which was a major set for the programme, held an exhibition of one of my favourite things – dresses! A selection of dresses used on the show were display in the beautiful period rooms of the country estate.
I took these photos a very* long time ago and found them recently! I never got round to writing a post surrounding my visit to this exhibition at the time.
The Victoria exhibition was displayed over various rooms of the grand country house. An array of bright silks, jewelled embellishments and delicate lace complimented the 19th century decor. It was only right Harewood House was utilised for scenery in the period drama – Queen Victoria had visited the House, as a princess in 1835. The costumes and its supporting context made perfect sense within the period rooms.
The way the costumes were installed and presented was something of perfection; each dress was placed in a setting which reflected the character who wore it. In addition the particular occasions of the grand dresses were also reflected by room and setting. The positions of costumes and mannequins were well thought of – they were inviting, welcoming and regal.
Below: Significant dresses worn by Jenna Coleman portraying the Queen were installed in the “Gallery”, the largest and grandest room in Harewood House and a perfect setting for a ball. The Coronation Robes from Series One really stood out – it was a delight to see the exquisite detail up close.
This silver dress is a a favourite of mine, it features in the first episode “Doll 123” in a party scene where the new Queen meets Prince Albert. It was accompanied by long white gloves and lots of diamonds.
The costumes in this room, elevated in height and placed in equal and structured distances, represent the formalities of royal life and the Queen’s high position in society. The costumes in the “Cinnamon Drawing Room” (a great name and colour for a room) project a similar theme. Photos below:
Waiting on the Queen – These dresses were worn by the actors portraying the Duchess of Sutherland, lady in waiting to the Queen and Lady Portman, a close friend. The information displayed explained that Lady Portman and the young Princess Victoria had first met at Harewood House! The positions of the dresses, turned in, suggest friendliness, invitation and loyalty to the Royal household.
The ITV drama focuses on the contrasting and intertwining conflicts of Queen Victoria’s life, her ultimate worldly power and domesticity as a wife and mother. The Victoria exhibition took this into account and installed costumes in areas away from the grandeur and royal life.
“Victoria’s Evening Dress” features in episode 5 and 6 of Series one and was inspired by the 1840 painting of the Queen created by John Partridge. The dress was placed in the entry to the kitchens of Harewood – marking domesticity and related to Harewood’s 3rd Countess, Louisa. Queen Victoria and the Countess shared many traits, namely their innovations and efficiency in 19th Century life.
The State Bedroom featured above is one of the rooms which did not include a Victoria costume. It is, however, one of the rooms the Princess Victoria used on her visit to Leeds in 1835. This green silk bed known as the “State Bed” is the one the young Princess slept in. The bed has only been used twice – the other occupant being the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia who stayed at Harewood in 1816.
I adored the Victoria exhibition. My only criticism is that the beautiful lace collars were nowhere to be seen!