Photo taken by Janice Rosser
Most women love a good wedding! Me included. The clothes we wear, the Church, the nervous bridegroom, the vows, the tears, the reception, the champagne, and of course The Bride And her Bridesmaids, and the Eternal question 'what will they be wearing'?!
In most of the seven novellas I have written, set in Victorian times, there has been a wedding! I love the romance, the lace, the swishing skirts, the flowers, the whole beauty of it.
When I wrote Darkwood, the wedding needed to be very special as it was paramount to the story. And so I enlisted the help of Shelley Tobin, Curator of Costumes at the Exeter Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
Shelley was pleased to help me with my research, and invited me to the Costume Department in Exeter, where I met her one day armed with a pad and pen, and my friend Sylvia who agreed to write notes for me
The wedding in my story was set on Dartmoor in 1865. Shelley said she had the perfect dress in storage. A long cardboard box was laid on a long table, and Shelley started to unwrap all the tissue paper, while I sat on the edge of my chair, full of anticipation.
Mary Tucker wedding dress
The dress Shelley revealed had been worn by Mary Tucker at her wedding in Branscombe in 1864. Mary was the daughter of a prominent lace dealer and manufacturer. As Shelley gently unfolded the dress, which was made of plain ivory silk taffeta, with a plain bodice and full crinoline skirt,
I could hardly believe I was looking at something so beautiful worn nearly 150 years before!
Shelley produced another box which held the Honiton lace veil Mary had worn! It was exquisite with Honiton pillow-made lace motifs invisibly sewn to the foundation. This beautiful veil complimented the dress perfectly. I could imagine my character Silvia wearing this, and going to the dressmakers to have it made. It was perfect, a dream in fact that I had actually seen it.
Which made my book all the more special and actually bought it alive!
A Victorian Wedding Invitation
And that wasn't all! Shelley went on to show me the ivory silk boots Mary wore, and the orange blossom headdress. Needless to say my friend and I were mesmerised by the whole ensemble.
We were also shown some beautiful ladies bonnets, embossed with stunning colourful flowers, and magazines of the time, which were so interesting as I read the cover page, wondering which young Victorian lady had read it all those years ago!
It was all such a wonderful experience, and I couldn't thank Shelley enough. When the book came out, I acknowledged Shelley's help. I am sure I would not have described my heroine Silvia's wedding attire so beautifully without this help.
In the story I used the atmospheric Brentor Church on Dartmoor as the Church chosen for Silvia's intended marriage too the handsome Gareth.
Will Silvia walk down the aisle in her silk slippers, wearing her beautiful silk dress? Please read my story, and you will have the answer! .. Rosemary
For those with poor sight this book is available in large print as 'The Bluebell Wood' by Rosemary A Smith. Available in libraries across the UK, Scotland & Ireland .....
Darkwood by Rosemary Smith is available on kindle on Amazon for £1.99.
There is also a book trailer for it on my Rosemary A Smith Author page.
Editor: Rosemary is very kindly donating a kindle version of Darkwood as a future prize. Details will appear on the website soon. Many thanks Rosemary!