Afternoon ‘tea’ dress recreated for Edwardian ‘party house’ Polesden Lacey
- Credit: National Trust
A stunning dress belonging to the one-time owner of the Edwardian party house, Polesden Lacey near Leatherhead, has been painstakingly recreated by dedicated volunteers.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2015
The afternoon ‘tea’ dress, worn by Mrs Margaret Greville during the property’s heyday in the early 20th century, was made by 34 members of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).
Using an old black and white photo, the ladies spent over 2,000 hours across three years recreating the elaborate garment, with the help of some modern aids.
“We researched many contemporary fashion books and the internet and finally chose a dress from a book called Lucille Limited, which gave us a style and fall similar to the photograph,” says Penny Emery, who led the project.
“Choosing colours proved more difficult but we looked at the flowers in the garden and chose a selection of pinks and purples for the beadwork and pale pink for the sequins on the skirt.”
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Made from pure silk, the dress features a profusion of purple flowers adorning the bodice, sleeves and the flowing train, each lovingly hand-painted and embroidered before being appliquéd into place.
Hundreds of tiny beads have also been stitched by hand onto the bodice, the belt and bordering the petals of each flower, while glittering lines of blush pink sequins run from the waist down the entire length of the skirt, numbering 5,000 in total.
“It really is an extraordinary piece of work,” says Jonathan Marsh, house and collections manager at Polesden Lacey. “We are so fortunate to have our talented team of NADFAS volunteers who have worked seamlessly to bring Maggie’s opulence to life.”
Visitors are invited to get a closer look at the dress, which has now taken pride of place in Mrs Greville’s tea room in the house, on view every day until Sunday November 1.