Dangerous Fashion: Devilish Crinolines

 

“At all events if a crinoline must be the fashion then every lady should wear a fire screen.”

I find historical fashions fascinating. Fashion, textiles and popular crazes can be analysed to be more than aesthetics. I particularly enjoy the medical impact of fashion.  Fashion has power over the physical body, it manipulates and shapes the anatomy. The productions of fabrics often contained cocktails of dangerous chemicals, poisoning and scarring the body overtime. Fashion also contributed to sudden and accidental deaths – deaths you only associate with horror movies, nightmares and exaggerations.

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Free flying of the mind: The Lorina Bulwer scroll

“I MISS LORINA BULWER AM A TRUE LOYAL PERSON….I MISS LORINA BULWER AM FREE.”

In this post I discuss the interesting, yet emotional, life and story of Lorina Bulwer, an inmate at the Great Yarmouth Workhouse. On arrival to the workhouse, Lorina was confined to the lunatic ward. She expressed her thoughts and feelings by stitching long monologues of capitalised words which are often considered as rambles, rants and in some cases, powerful nonsense. There are currently three known surviving “Lorina” samplers in Britain. I refer to Lorina by her first name in this post as her embroidered texts depict  a clear personality and a particular level of familiarity and modern day relevance.

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Christmas at Castle Howard

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I adore historic houses; there is nothing I love more than having a spare couple of hours to delve into the histories of unique country manors, town houses or the small yet powerful dwellings of previous earthly occupants. I’ve visited a variety of houses around Yorkshire – a lot on numerous occasions – yet I was ashamed to have not visited Castle Howard in my adult memory. I had a spare weekend and decided to take the rural and scenic route to the Howardian Hills to visit Castle Howard at Christmas. The overall theme of the house and grounds is The Twelve Days of Christmas, with each room of the spacious, yet intimate, building representing each day of festivities.

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The Yorkshire Witch’s everlasting spell

Studies of witchcraft often centre on groups of witches or spirits, the Salem witch trials, the Pendle and Samlesbury witches or even the Loudun possessions in 17th century France. Persecution and superstition of witchcraft began to fade towards the end of the 18th century, yet the concept of spirits and possession which were often associated with witchcraft began to be overruled by notions of deviation, criminality and manipulation. One example of individual witchcraft is the extraordinary life of the “Yorkshire Witch”, the creator of “The Prophet of Leeds Hen Hoax”, the serial thief and convicted murderer of Rebecca Perigo.

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Women in Science: Hedy Lamarr

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I originally wrote this post two years ago, but recently I had been thinking about the Hedy Lamarr and wanted to do further research into her brilliant mind and life. Coincidentally “Hollywood’s Brightest Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” was aired on the same day I had thought about Hedy (with no knowledge that the documentary was going to be on) – so I have edited this post a little to add new information learnt about Hedy! – The documentary is fabulous, I suggest you all watch it.

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Women In Science: Madame Caplin’s Reformed Corset

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19th Century S&S Corset (Registered in Belgium) Image Courtesy of York Museums Trust

I have various historical interests and for my MA dissertation I decided to integrate my different interests and academic skills – focusing on the medical effects of dress reform and also putting a philosophical spin on it! The focus of my dissertation was the life and work of Madame Roxey Ann Caplin, a Canadian born writer and corset maker (or stay-maker, as Madame Caplin stated) who worked at 58 Berners Street, London throughout nearly the entire 19th Century. She was born in 1793 and died on the 2nd August 1888 – her long life was full of innovation, inspiration and individualism.

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