Royal outfits to go on show

Royal outfits to go on show

A new exhibition exploring the fashions worn by successive generations of women in the Royal Family will open at the Fashion Museum Bath on 3 February 2018 and run until 28 April 2019.

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Royal Women will be a ‘family tree’ exhibition looking at the clothes worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret.

Wives and daughters, sisters and mothers; none of them were regnant yet they all played a key role in the British monarchy. The exhibition will examine their sartorial lives, looking at each woman’s unique style, the role they played within the monarchy and how that was reflected in their choice of dress.

The exhibition will feature exquisite items of dress from the Fashion Museum collection, as well as a major loan from the Royal Collection, generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen.

The exhibition curator, Elly Summers, said: “The Fashion Museum is one of the world’s great museum collections of historical fashionable dress and we are immensely fortunate that amongst its treasures it includes dress belonging to members of the Royal Family; we are equally fortunate in the loan of key pieces from the Royal Collection.”

Each of the royal women featured in the exhibition had their own unique style:

Her Majesty Queen Alexandra

1 December 1844 – 20 November 1925

Queen Alexandra was a fashion icon, whose look was quite different from that of her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria. She set a trend for chokers and high necklines and was well known for her elegant, tailored daywear.  

Her Majesty Queen Mary

26 May 1867 – 24 March 1953

An imposing, statuesque figure, Mary was the embodiment of royalty. Her role was to be a steadying influence, reassuring the British public during difficult times, including the First World War, and her dress style reflected this. Mary’s style stayed constant through dramatic changes in fashions during the first half of the 20th century. Impeccably dressed, for eveningwear she wore heavily beaded gowns and for day she wore tailored suits and large toque hats.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002

Elizabeth and King George VI were seen as the saviours of the monarchy and had to weather many crises, including the Second World War and the abdication of Edward VIII. Elizabeth related well to the public, and brought sparkle to the image of royal women in the post-war world, when it was much needed. Elizabeth loved fashion and took a keen interest in designs, fabrics and colours. Norman Hartnell designed much of what she wore – which included dramatic eveningwear and soft pastel coloured daywear that flattered her diminutive height.

Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

21 August 1930 – 9 February 2002

Princess Margaret was glamorous and beautiful and was often photographed wherever she went. Unlike the reigning monarch, Margaret had more freedom to explore fashion, something she took great pleasure in. Many of her earlier outfits were designed by Hartnell, and she became a great patron of Christian Dior after she was introduced to his New Look collection in 1947.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Tartan silk dress belonging to Alexandra, Princess of Wales (about 1870)

Made by Madame Elise, this stunning tartan dress was probably worn by Alexandra to a function at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the monarch in Scotland.

This exquisite dress has a great story, for it was part of the dispersed royal wardrobe. Following Alexandra’s death in 1925, many of her dresses were dispersed and even today the whereabouts of many remain a mystery. This colourful dress, now a treasured part of the Fashion Museum collection, was discovered in the 1930s in a high end ‘vintage’ shop called Baroque in Margaret Street in London, and from there made its way into the Fashion Museum collection.

  • Purple silk chiffon dress belonging to Alexandra, Princess of Wales (1910)

Made by Madame Doeuillet, of very fine, heavily embroidered silk chiffon, this dress was most likely unworn, perhaps having been discarded for mourning clothes on Edward VII’s death.

  • Dress and cape of gold lamé and turquoise cut velvet belonging to Queen Mary (1947)

Made by Hartnell and worn by Queen Mary to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN at Wesminster Abbey in 1947. This historic commission for Hartnell included not only designing the wedding dress for the Princess, but also the dresses for her eight bridesmaids and members of her family.

  • Grey silk satin ball gown worn by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1954)

On long-term loan from the Royal Collection, the dress was made by Hartnell and worn to a dinner for educational charity the English Speaking Union in New York on 3 November 1954. Hartnell gowns were hugely labour intensive – at this time he employed 400 staff, from cutters and seamstresses to embroiderers.

  • Christian Dior ‘Rose Pompon’ strapless cream silk chiffon day dress worn by Princess Margaret (1952)

The Princess wore this dress from Dior’s ‘Rose Pompon’ collection to Royal Ascot.

  • Christian Dior strapless black lace evening dress worn by Princess Margaret (1953)

Worn to a performance of Guys and Dolls at the London Coliseum on 23 July 1953, which Princess Margaret attended along with her sister The Queen and Prince Philip.



B&NES back in the council house business.

B&NES back in the council house business.

Well, l never thought l would hear it coming out of the mouth of a Conservative Council leader but Cllr Tim Warren has told me B&NES is going back into the council house building business.

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Cllr Tim Warren, Leader, Bath and North East Somerset Council

In a frank – end of the year – chat with Bath Newseum, Cllr Warren looked back over a year of highs and lows and talked about the strains and stresses on his ever-decreasing budget.

There was news about plans to still go ahead with east of Bath extra parking provisions and ways in which the Council was exploring options for dealing with its road congestion and pollution issues.

But housing – and affordable homes  -came up in conversation too and that included news about B&NES starting to building council houses again.

I have not edited the following chat. It is as it happened.



That’s entertainment – Bath style.

That’s entertainment – Bath style.

Celebrities, musicians, actors and artists of Georgian Bath come under a new spotlight when an exhibition dedicated to their incredible stories opens at the Victoria Art Gallery.

From the sleazy to the sophisticated ‘Entertainment in Bath’ looks at performers and events in the city since its Georgian heyday through to its Victorian past and more recently Bath Festival and infamous pop concerts.

In the 18th century, Bath was second only to London for the remarkable quality and variety of music, art and theatre on offer. Performers would come to the city to entertain the wealthy spa visitors. Here they would develop their skills, and attract a following and a good reputation before moving on to further fame and fortune in London.


Pictured is one of the scenes featured in the Entertainment in Bath exhibition

Wonderful portraits by Gainsborough, Bath’s best painter at the time, and works by the Georgian comic artist Thomas Rowlandson will feature in the exhibition.

Highlights from the gallery’s own collection of paintings, drawings and prints will be on show alongside important loans from the Royal Collection, lent by Her Majesty The Queen, and the National Portrait Gallery.

The exhibition, which runs from January 13 to March 14, will touch upon some of the less obvious ‘entertainments’ in the city, covering the full spectrum of morality, from gambling and prostitution to attendance at fashionable chapels.

The quirkier exhibits will include gambling paraphernalia and instruments similar to those played by musicians such as William Herschel, who lived and worked in Bath.

Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield) Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “Entertainment in Bath will give a fascinating insight into the city’s social history, while showcasing highlights from the Victoria Art Gallery’s outstanding collection.

“Some of the creative stars depicted in the exhibition are still well-known today, while others have been largely forgotten. However they are all intrinsically linked to Bath’s history as a centre for entertainment and creativity, and all have interesting stories to tell.”

Entertainment in Bath will be brought to life by special performances by Bath Spa University drama students on Saturday 24 February and 3, 17, 24 March at 12pm-2pm.

The show will also be accompanied by a free audioguide.  Admission to the exhibition is free for local residents with a Discovery Card (

‘Stubs Corner’

‘Stubs Corner’

Noticed this little ‘stubs corner’ outside Waitrose in Bath the other day. I don’t know whether it’s staff coming out for a cigarette or shoppers going in pausing – to get one last drag on their disgusting fag.


Stubs Corner – outside Waitrose in Bath

It amazes me how many businesses let staff pop out to the shop front for a ciggie break. Not what l would call a good advertisement for the store around whose entrance they are hanging.


Not quite as bad as chewing gum l suppose – at least it’s easier to clear up.

Wetherspoons – on James Street West – made me laugh too. A little gaggle of blokes puffing away in a special sheltered enclosure outside. They looked like sheep in a pen.

I did wonder  at first –  if this was some contemporary art tableaux representing the smoking stacks skyline of industrial Manchester during the heyday of King Coal.

The biggest irony has to be a trip to Weston super Mare General Hospital to see my poorly sister and noting the number of people ignoring the No Smoking signs right outside the front entrance.

It’s fair to say this hospital is not alone. I have seen the same thing happening at Southmead and the RUH.

Hospitals often have bairly enough staff inside to care for the sick without having to go outside and remind people that these are a places of healing – and caring – not public spaces for indulging in nicotine suicide.

Left to me l would ban the weed in any public space. Yes – l am an ex-smoker of 27 years. There was as much smoke as stress in our newsroom. Both – l am sure – have been killers in our industry.

Oh how l wish l had known then what we know about smoking now.




My idea of Christmas.

My idea of Christmas.

My thanks to Terry Basson – a Bath Newseum regular for the following:

terry basson

Terry Basson

‘Not sure what Christmas is all about?

Then walk down Walcot Street in Bath and see the twinkle of burning lights and the flickering glow of over a hundred wall-hung Christmas trees –  with strings of white bulbs strung along all the facias of every building.


The recent Lantern Procession in Walcot Street


Walcot Street is where you discover the poorer little artisan shops who seem to survive whilst the wealthy chain stores in the city seem often to close.

Charles Dickens shopped here, Jane Austin walked here and Admiral Nelson climbed the Penny Steps.


Terry’s photograph of choristers in Walcot Street

Then we have the nearby churches that give shelter and hot food to lost souls who are struggling with their lives on the cold streets.

Tell me dear servant, take a peek at Christmas and warm your heart down Walcot Street.’

Thanks Terry, and a Merry Christmas to you and yours!

What the Dickens!

What the Dickens!

One of the prettiest – and often overlooked – parts of Bath gets down to celebrating the festive season later today by celebrating another famous historical city visitor. And a man who certainly left his mark on Christmas!


The Corridor

Look out for the first of three Dickensian Evenings in The Corridor and Northumberland Place – over the next two Thursdays.

The event – organised with the help of Bath BID – will see Victorian-styled, costumed characters, musical entertainment and traditional festive treats – maybe even snowfall!


Northumberland Place

It’s all happening between 5 and 7.30 – on the 14th and 2ls -t in two of Bath’s famous narrow streets that make up part of the city’s Lanes Quarter. An echo of its medieval past.

Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor to Bath. He came first as a young reporter and later in life to give readings from his amazing novels. No doubt – at this time of the year – everyopne wanted to hear about Scrooge and A Christmas Carol!

Should this be City Hall?

Should this be City Hall?

Should Bath get back its city council status and the North East Somerset part of B&NES merge with North Somerset?


Should this be City Hall?

That’s a suggestion being put forward in an article from guest contributor and journalist Simon Hancock – which l am happy to print in full. Do have your say.


Journalist, Simon Hancock.

“Making councils smaller is nothing new. Aside from the fact that local authorities, including Bath and North East Somerset, have, and are still, seeing their budgets slashed year after year, in the past, council wards have not altogether been very equal when it comes to the number of constituents.

It’s no-one’s fault, but a councilor in one ward may have hundreds, even thousands more constituents, than others in the council chamber. So every now and then, there is the need for a boundary review, to try to make the wards more evenly distributed. And now it’s the turn of Bath and North East Somerset.

“Slimmed Down Council” was how headlined the latest story about the Boundary Commission which is asking for the views of those who live in the district, before they make any recommendations.

Let’s be clear, this is something that the council has no control over. A boundary review is separate to the running of the council, but a “slimmed down council” got me thinking.

We all know what happened in the autumn of 2010, but for those who need reminding, it was the much talked about Comprehensive Spending Review. Remember, when the government announced that all councils were to have their budgets slashed to the tune of millions. The then Chancellor, George Osborne, was going to reduce the country’s deficit, so that by 2015, the country was not over-spending.

I don’t really need to remind you of what has happened since then, apart from the fact; the country is still spending more than it receives in taxes.

Since the financial crash of 2008, more and more people have had to access council services, for a whole host of reasons, but since April 2011, the very same councils have had to cut back on services, lay-off staff, ask the voluntary sector to pick up some of the slack, and do “more with less”.

A “slimmed down council” I hear you say. Well yes, less money, more people needing help, and running along in the background, boundary commission reviews into the number of councillors.

Bristol went through a review a couple of years ago. It managed to retain the number of councillors. North Somerset was not so fortunate in its last boundary review, when it lost 11 councillors.

We know that councillors are usually the first port of call for many people who find themselves in financial or welfare difficulties, and as we know, councillors give of their time without much financial reward. Yes, they receive some expenses, but on the whole, they do it because they want to make a difference, campaign for change, and make the lives of their constituents, better.

Some would argue that a council that has to do “more with less” needs more councillors, not fewer of them.

Of course, a boundary review is not to save money.  Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Boundary Commission, said the review aimed to “deliver electoral equality for local voters” and that the Commission wants to ensure that their “proposals reflect the interests and identities of local communities” in B&NES.

That said, a reduction in the number of councillors at the Guildhall would save some money, obviously. The proposal is for six members to leave the chamber.

And if you are going to redraw the council map of Bath and North East Somerset, then why not redraw an even larger map. The, dare I say it, old Avon area. After more than two decades, perhaps it’s time to have another look at the region.

Local authorities could be slimmed down, top-down, rather than bottom-up. There could be the return of Bath City Council, and the North East Somerset part of the district, the old Wansdyke, merged with neighbouring North Somerset.

Back in 1996, when Avon was carved up into four unitary authorities, the proposal was for a North West Somerset council (Woodspring) and Wansdyke joining Bath. North (West) Somerset never saw the light of day, with the new authority deciding to rename itself “North”.

So, let east meet west, and become a super-council. A truly geographical “North” Somerset unitary authority. Why have two chief executives, when you can have one. Or two chief financial officers, when there is only the need for one. It’s a numbers game. And they understand numbers.

I have always had some sympathy for the residents of North East Somerset. They used to have their own district council. Their very own identity; Wansdyke. Then in 1996, all that changed when it was effectively tagged-on to Bath. And of course, Bath lost its right to call itself a City Council. While just down the A4, Bristol not only kept its right to call itself a City Council, but it was also handed back its county status.

Slimmed down. More with less. Cut your cloth accordingly. Whatever you call it. However you see it. Is this the time for a radical re-think and shake-up of the political map of the Georgian City of Bath and the surrounding towns and villages?”

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Local journalist, Simon Hancock.

Simon sent his own CV:

“Simon Hancock has been a journalist for 14 years, and worked as a freelance newsreader and reporter at Bath FM

Brought up between Bath and Bristol, he had a keen interest in politics and local government from an early age. His mother would take him to district council meetings when he was younger.

Born a year before the ill-fated Avon County Council was created, Simon can remember the disdain that people accorded to that local government structure, and their relief when, in 1996, it was abolished.

You can find Simon tweeting as @newsmansimon”