To start 2018 off we were treated to a fascinating talk by Lesley Parker entitled ‘A Working Woman’s Wardrobe’. Lesley explained that she would be focussing on the mid-Georgian period and more specifically on the period between 1714 and 1811. She started her talk fully clothed, dressed in the everyday garments worn by the ‘working woman’ and, during the next hour slowly undressed with the help of Suzie Luke, whilst explaining the purpose and construction of each garment!
Lesley’s interest is in the authentic reproduction of clothing made during this period and she passed around a number of items, from traditional red felt cloaks and fitted jackets to pinafores and linen undergarments, for us all to admire the stitching, the fabric and the weight. She showed off her green, knitted stockings, explaining that men usually wore white, and talked about the effects of the mechanisation of the production and printing of cloth. One of the many slides on screen showed the scraps of coloured and patterned cloth left with babies at the Foundling Hospital so that they could be identified, later, if their mothers were able to take them home.
Handling the many items Lesley talked about gave us all an appreciation of the care that had gone into making the reproduced garments and also of the original value of items of clothing owned by the ordinary working woman 300 years ago.