Thursday, 10 May 2018

Fashions at the 1831 royal coronation

My 1831 edition of The Ladies Pocket Magazine contains a section about the coronation of King William IV and Queen Adelaide  - shown in the image in her coronation robes. It explains the details of the service, the order of precedence and the regalia but unfortunately does not go into great detail about the clothes and lace worn by the royal couple. However, a chapter entitled ‘Reminiscences of the coronation’, which is set out as a letter from Lady Julia F to her friend the Hon Maria is much more entertaining. She tells us her chaperone was her cross aunt, Lady Jane, and how they disagreed about most of the fashions, which her aunt found quite revealing, either because they were low cut or for their use of flimsy fabric. Julia describes the fashions in general as comprising a lot of tulle, crape, and gauze, mainly in white and light colours. There seems to be a fair amount of lace on show, mainly blond, which her aunt seemed to disapprove of, preferring point lace. Julia describes her own dress as ‘white gauze de Paris, which offers a perfect imitation of blonde lace over a white gros de Naples slip’. She continues ‘A low corsage, trimmed with a double fall of blond lace, set on very full, comparatively narrow at the back and front, but forming very deep epaulettes’. It seems blond lace was more fashionable than the point lace preferred by Lady Jane. Julia is quite forthright about some of the fashions she sees, describing some of the noble ladies as beautifully dressed but others as vulgar with mismatched clothes. Unfortunately she does not describe the queen’s attire only saying ‘Everyone agreed that the queen never looked so well’. The service was clearly quite lengthy and Julia reports that many of the ladies produced biscuits or sandwiches from their reticules and one even produced a small silver goblet and bottle of Madeira wine. Inevitably Lady Jane considered eating in church vulgar and would not partake, as for sharing wine from the silver cup ‘ she shrank from it as if it had been a poisoned chalice’.

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