Monday, 10 March 2014

Coopershill House Party

I really had intended more costuming posts last week. I thought I had everything just nicely finished that I could talk about it. But as time crept on, I realised I hadn't got nearly enough trim applied, and was left sewing frantically while at the house itself. So I'll start by talking about the weekend itself and I'll use the follow up posts to go into more detail about my costuming.

Last September an idea was concocted by the founder of our costuming group to spend a weekend away in Coopershill Manor. Much excited squeeing was heard and after a scrabble for rooms (though I did get my first pick to stay in the Venetian Room), serious costume planning began.

When we got there first, only the second car load to arrive, there was much excitment and running from room to room; website pictures are all well and good, but were the rooms actually as good? Very much so. Our host, Simon, gave us a tour of the room, showing us the family portraits in the dining room. Each room even had a tiny little vase of snowdrops gathered, I presume, from the abundance growing around the estate.

With the tour complete, I changed into my regency gown, a nice easy friday option, and got to sewing the trim onto my train for my ball gown before we were called to dinner.

Dinner was a sumptious affair. The dining room above was lit entirely by candlelight. Not enough to read a paper by certainly, but very atmospheric and romantic. We started with a potato and leek soup, followed by roast duck with garden greens and potaoes gratin. The duck was so soft and tender it melted in the mouth and the potato dish so popular I'm almost surprised it didn't come to blows for the last portions. A cheese course followed with local cheeses and a house made vanilla and pear chutney, a jar of which made it's way home with me. Desert was a poached pear with vanilla and berry parfait, before we retired to the drawing room for tea and home made fudge.
Saturday morning after breakfast I got to tacking down the train trim, while other amused themselves with magazines from the 1880's provided by our host, music and dance practice and general good company. I finished in good time before the carriage rides began, so was able to relax and wave off the first carriage load before changing into my riding outfit. 

The riding outfit of course featuring the new purple walking skirt! And the hat that I still can't get at the right angle. I swear, I'm going to have to get a wig to get this hat to sit properly. The skirt also featured at breakfast each morning as the not-quite-full-skirt size meant I could get away with putting it on without the bustle underneath.

The delayed carriage rides meant that when we returned I was very ready for afternoon tea. Home made scones with fresh cream and rhubarb and ginger jam, a jar of which also came home with me, the house's own blend of earl grey tea, and a delicious fresh coffee cake.

Duly refreshed, I retired to change as we had hired a professional photographer to visit before dinner; I hope to share those pictures here when they're available. I was quite nervous as I changed, I hadn't tried on the whole outfit together before, and I wanted so much for the outfit to match the image in my own mind. It was even better.

Dinner on saturday night started with a spinach and rosemary soup, followed by lamb cutlets in a spiced redcurrant sause with carrots and green beans. I should mention, if I hadn't already, all of the vegtables came sourced from the house's own garden, and the freshness very much came through as an ingredient. The cheese board featured again followed by a meringue for desert with banana and ginger cream. And for the occasion, I simply had to share a bottle of something bubbly with Suzanna. It was a special occasion after all.

After dinner, once again in the dining room, we danced and recited, music was played and laughter was heard until well after the witching hour. Thanks to Andrea, I now know how to waltz, but I may need to practice before I can move as smoothly as I'd like. Though moving in those gowns really is a wonderful feeling. What's that? Show you the gown already? Oh if you insist :)

It was a wonderful weekend. I felt quite sad on sunday when it all had to end and there were no more skirts to be smoothed out as we sat down. Already gossip circulates about doing this again, doing it annually, recreating that same, wonderful atmosphere. And I can't wait.

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