Working weekend

Allow me to introduce you, ladies and gentlemen, to the enormous purple wheelie suitcase of DOOOOOM…


And what, I hear you ask, in voices trembling with dread anticipation, is inside the enormous purple wheelie suitcase of DOOOOOM!

Well, it was this, actually…


Not me, obviously, and the tent and table were provided by the organiser, but kirtle, gown, accessories, chair, trestles, embroidery frame, tablecloth, hanging, the labours and two ladies were all in there along with the smaller finished pieces. There’s even a cushion, the Tristram one, under my bum. Not that Tristram prevented me from getting serious bottom fatigue by Monday.

The truly miraculous part is not how much I managed to get into one suitcase, but the fact that for once I actually remembered to take photos!

I was at the Tower of London for three days, demonstrating Tudor embroidery for the coronation celebrations of Anne Boleyn. I’m by no means a nervous driver, but didn’t fancy trying to navigate the centre of London, so john made a collapsible chair, Gareth made pack able trestles and a frame that fit in the case, and i got the train instead.


Accommodation problems seemed to be the theme if the weekend. All of the tents were brand spanking new and several collapsed on Saturday, luckily not mine! Id never heard of heritage tents before, but they did look a bit flimsy compared with the past tents ones I’m used too. Also, I’d been planning to stay at our friend Matt’s place whilst he and roger were on holiday, but then Cuan, the house sitter, couldn’t get in because the lock broke. Cuan very gallantly went stay with his boyfriend for the weekend and gave me his place, but it was all very worrying for a while ( I took Cuan homemade lasagne, so his chivalry did not go unrewarded)

I will get some proper pictures of my new gown later this week, but I was glad I’d made it because it was a bit nippy on Monday – typical bank holiday weather, in other words! Many people were interested in my homemade medieval specs, all of them, of course far too polite to say how ugly they are!


It might sound petty and a bit daft, but the thing I really missed in the tent was fresh flowers. Normally I bring some from my garden ( if I’m not at home to enjoy them I might as well cut them) or I buy something, but not only are flowers scarily expensive in London I didn’t have a spare jug to put them in.

I also made a small supply of biccies for myself, alas not enough to share as is my usual habit because I couldn’t carry much, which meant that every time I popped behind the curtain I thought, ” ooh! Biccies!”

I took the ladies for display because although they’re a little old fashioned by the 1530s I’m sure king henry must have been familiar with the originals, coming as they did from the old Palace of Westminster, and they were good talking points because they depict kingly virtues. I’ve been fancying working on some late c15th/ early c16 th century pieces for a while though, so if more work comes from this I’ll definitely indulge in something.

The piece I was demonstrating was of course the book cover with the slips I’ve been working on


It worked well as a demo piece. I had a separate scrap of velvet for people to touch, telling them to make the most of it because the likes you don’t normally get to touch anything that expensive. With kids I was telling them the story of the origins of the order of the garter and asking if they knew who the current head if the order was- cue much parental eye rolling for the ones who still didn’t guess even after I’d told them it was that nice old granny with the big house on the mall who likes her corgis!

I think this one will stay as demo though, and I’ll do another for the actual book I want covered( probably the same) because not only did I get this one a smidge wonky when I was talking and sewing the slips down, but when I worked the slips I experimented and did them on silk instead of linen. It really hasn’t held tension as well as I would have liked. It’s probably one of those things that will only ever bother me.

UPDATE, I think they missed me, they’re helping me unpack


~ by opusanglicanum on May 27, 2014.

14 Responses to “Working weekend”

  1. I can see why you call it the suitcase of DOOM – the mere idea of dealing with the Tube with a suitcase that size makes me go all week at the knees. It’s not as though all that fabric were as light as a feather, either…

    • I got a cab there, although the cabbie told me he could tell at a glance that I was trouble, and took the tube back- I can manage it down stairs but not up them, and tower hill tube station is all steps. I had a shopping bag with food and my carpet bag with my overnight gear as well, but it really wasn’t too bad. My main concern was getting luggage space on the train

  2. Thanks for the wonderful report!

  3. Your tent is amazing! How many square meters of finest embroidery, and your gown and you! So much work before packing it in that suitcase. Wow.

  4. What, you didn’t bring Gareth to be your serf — to repack and haul the enormous purple wheelie suitcase of DOOOOOM? Glad you had a good time!

  5. Hmm, I’ve been looking at Heritage tents, the Bosworth – was it that model tent that went down in a storm? Any info is good, as I’ve never been in presence of one of them, although they look mighty fine on the website.

    • The pavilions(round ones) were fine, none of them came down, although I did notice that the poles and wheels were more lightweight than I’m used too, but that might be because they were medium sized pavilions and all of the ones we have are a size larger- larger might just need heftier poles. It was the Burgundian style ones that had problems( sorry I don’t know what their model names are, Burgundians are the ones that are like two round pavilions squashed together, ah, I just checked, it was the crecy, rather than the bosworth that the tower had, but to be honest the two look similar, very similar)I think every single one of those ripped around the poles as soon as they got wet. To their credit the makers did come down on the train and fix them overnight, but the towers a big client. I wouldn’t buy one on what I saw last weekend, I’ve never seen a Burgundian do that, not even an old knackerded one, let alone one that was factory fresh

      • Hmm, troubling to hear, because they looked damn good from the website. But goes to show you can’t really tell unless you’ve seen one up close and personal. Thanks for the testimonial!

      • I feel for you. It seems to be very hard to find decent tents at the moment. I’ve heard mixed reviews of past tents since they changed hands as well, although nothing as catastrophic as these. I’m grateful we bought a lifetimes supply of medieval tens from past tents before the old owner retired – must admit that last year at nottingham when the wind got up I got very concerned about our big burgundian because that’s irreplaceable now. Have you tried asking on the living history forum to see if anyone can reccomend something (2nd hand ones come up on there from time to time as well)

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