Wednesday 13 July 2016

Seventeenth century clothing at Platt Hall Gallery of Costume, Manchester

Figure 1 - Collar from the 1630s
At the weekend I visited Platt Hall for the first time, I had never been to Manchester before but always wanted to visit the Gallery of Costume. At the moment the 20th century exhibitions are closed, however the rest of the museum is open, as is the Schiaparelli exhibition. The Museum has an excellent collection of 17th century garments, many having belonged to the Filmer family, and these by themselves are worth a detour. Below I give a flavour of what is on display, the collection extends well beyond these.
Figure 2 - Whatcombe bodice

There are two cases of linens covering 1600-1630 and 1630-1660, with whitework and lace collars, sleeves, coif and forehead cloths. Figure 1 shows one corner of the 1630-1660 case, with a bobbin lace collar from the 1630s. 

The garments include the Whatcombe bodice (c1650-1660) (Figure 2) with interactive information on the project to “digitally restore” the bodice. Research done for the reconstruction indicates that the garment may originally have belonged to the first wife of Bussy Mansel (1623–1699), a Welsh parliamentarian who served under Fairfax, and was appointed to the Barebones Parliament by Cromwell in 1653.
Figure 3 -Detail of 1630s waistcoat

The heavier embroidered patterns of the late 16th and early 17th century, often with flowers but in this case mainly with bunches of grapes,  that appear on the girl’s jacket from c1610, contrast with the more open embroidery of a woman’s waistcoat from c1630-40 that is displayed near it. A detail of the 1630s embroidery is shown in Figure 3. Slightly later still is a 1670-1700 bodice, which repeats in an Indian painted cotton the very fanciful flower patterns that became popular for embroidery in the second half of the century.  

Figure 4 - Pocket detail 1685-95 coat
In men’s wear there is a natural linen doublet from around 1625-35, heavily embroidered in the same thread with couching and French knots, and a heavily embroidered man's nightcap of about the same date, which is only one of several in the collection. There is a wool/silk mix coat from about 1685-1695, which  has 103 silk thread covered buttons. Figure 4 shows the buttons on one of the pockets of the coat, and figure 5 below shows the splendid 1680s lace cravat displayed with it. 

Figure 5 - 1680s cravat
As can been seen from the links Manchester Museums have put much of the collection online, but it is worth going to the museum to see them, and much more on display.