An Outstanding Victorian Fancy Dress Costume of a Medieval Courtier


Origin: English
Period: Mid / Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1870
Shoes: 11 inches long
Hose: 27 inches long
Cape: 28 inches (at longest part)
Other measurements on request.

Composed of cape, doublet, hose and complete with matching shoes, all of black silk taffeta trimmed with pierced ribbon and faced in canary yellow satin.

Each piece of the ensemble is very finely hand cut and stitched. The cape is fastened with an original thread ball and loop, and is almost full-circle, as it dips slightly at the centre back and the whole of lining is in the beautiful canary yellow satin. The doublet has a beige quilted lining and a superb black silk taffeta exterior with the ruffled sleeves being highlighted in the canary yellow whilst the hose echo the same design with the shoes completing the outfit in sensational style having ruby red interiors.

The costume has a handful of areas that need attention; one of the silk bows to the reverse of the doublet needs reattaching, there is an area to the top left shoulder again on the doublet that needs a re-stitch and one leg flank of the hose’s taffeta is lacking and there is a part that needs re-marrying. In any case, the overall condition is still good with no rips or tears or needless restoration, nor signs of stains or discoloration.

Queen Victoria herself was quite fond of fancy dress and her personal interest in British history and desire for authenticity resulted in the popularity of historical characters and themes for fancy dress balls during much of the nineteenth century. By the time this outfit was made, fancy dress parties were held for almost any occasion, both private and public. The opening of a new bridge; a civic holiday; a daughter's coming out - fancy dress was the theme of choice.
The majority of costumes continued to be based upon historical styles, which were thought to be in better taste than exotic or humorous ones. Many of these were based on the eighteenth century, although costumes taken from literature such as Shakespeare, Dickens or Tennyson made their appearance.

This is an antique fancy dress costume of high esteem, unparalleled by the costume makers of today. One cannot help but think the part it has already played at parties amongst the ballrooms, topiary hedges, mazes and gardens of Victorian England.

We think it deserves another outing…. Sir Walter Raleigh anyone?