One of the questions I am most frequently asked about our collection of costumes at the Maddermarket is 'What is the oldest item in your wardrobe?' We are very lucky to have quite a lot of original pieces dating from the Victorian and Edwardian eras but we have nothing wearable from earlier than that any more. Several years ago we had a dress known as The Suffield Dress. It was a sack back gown dating from around 1770. It was incredibly small and fragile and was eventually auctioned off. I can't find any pictures of our dress but it looked abit like this
|Robe a la Francais, Amsterdam 1740-60|
|An example of the Blandford Cartwheel|
SUFFIELD DRESS UPDATE
After rummaging around in the theatre archives, I came across the Sotheby's auction catalogue from March '97. In it was a photo of the back view of the Suffield dress and a description.
predominantly purple and pink silks, triple engageants with gold lace, has been re-lined, silk is fragile in places; the stomacher is formed from matching fabric. This gown was donated to the theatre by Dowager Lady Suffield after the 2nd World War. Est £800 - 1,200
At the same time, our local paper the Eastern Daily Press ran this cartoon
There was also mention made of the Sotheby's costume sale in the Independent here;