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My blog has sadly been neglected over the summer months, so the time has come to correct that situation.

In June I enjoyed a long weekend away in York, which enabled me to visit two exhibitions while I was there: the Castle Museum, and Fairfax House.

‘Shaping the Body’ at the Castle Museum is an ongoing exhibition, one among many other wonderful exhibits. The route around the Museum starts with a display of a late 18th century Georgian Room that included a large doll’s house in the corner.


The Georgian Room with Doll’s House


Trying on Panniers…


Eventually you reach the upper gallery where the costumes are displayed, and while it isn’t extensive there is a good selection of costumes and accessories for each time period.

There’s even a small selection of costumes that you could try on-you need to be slim to fit the dress with the space for panniers, even with Velcro fastenings I could not have gotten the dress up my arms, but I was still able to try on the panniers that went with it.

They were probably much more comfortable than the real thing, as these were a thick foam inside a fabric covering. Nevertheless they still gave the impression of the width that would be created once the dress was in place.

I particularly liked how the exhibition curators had brought context to the exhibits with interesting information.

The pair of brown stays on display (from 1760-80) also noted the UK equivalent size now- size 8. That seems quite thin, but women were smaller and shorter than they are now.

Creating shape

Creating shape

Spread across the displays were shoes from each time period (more about those in my next post).

The Dangers of Fashion were on display too. One cabinet held a beautiful green dress, but the dye was deadly as it contained arsenic. You can find out more about this aspect of fashion from this post.

But it was the large glass Chemist’s bottle that once held Belladonna that drew my attention. The contents were used as drops to enlarge the pupils, but with prolonged use it would cause blurred vision and even blindness.

Chemist's Bottle

Chemist’s Bottle

(As this bottle was low down in the cabinet I crouched down to take the photo, but when I went to get back up, my back bag and gravity tipped me backwards onto the stone slabs. Thank you to the lady who came to offer me help in getting up. Next time I’m in this situation I will kneel instead.)

Leaving the gallery the centuries on show passed by until the sixties arrived, and for anyone over 50 years old, there were lots of recognisable items, toys, posters, music, adverts and information on television shows.

A good place to visit whether young or old, and whatever era you’re interested in…