historic london

10th February 1840 - Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress

As many people know, it is said that Victoria started the trend of wearing a white coloured dress on your wedding day. However, not many know  how complicated the journey was that had it come to be.

In the early of planning her wedding, Lord Melbourne suggested that she might wear her royal robes of state, as she mentions in her diary -


They talked about me wearing my robes, but I thought not.


She made it clear that her wedding was not like others of the time, where it was all for advancement and gain, with no thought of romantic preference. Her wedding was a personal affair; she was marrying for love.

In the end, Victoria would design her own dress, as well as her bridesmaids’ dresses. She had her dress made entirely of British materials, as was well publicised at the time. This was a political move, as she was showing to foreign powers just what her country had to offer and that she was still representing Britain.  The silk was woven in Spitalfields, East London and the lace was handmade in Devon.  Finally, the outfit was sewed together by Victoria’s own dressmaker, a Mrs Bettans, with the pattern being destroyed afterwards to prevent the dress being replicated.

The finished garment would include a bodice, the waist pointed over a full, pleated skirt with full puffed sleeves and a round neck, all made of Spitalfields white silk satin. The train was immense, measuring 18 feet and edged with orange blossom spays (orange blossom being a symbol of fertility). Orange blossom would feature a lot on her person, as her wreath above her veil (which was 12 feet long) was made of it and it trimmed her dress.  She also wore matching satin shoes (see two above), and a blue sapphire brooch at her breast which was a wedding gift from Albert. In her diary, on her wedding day of the tenth of February 1840, she described her whole outfit as thus -


I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch


Victoria did not wear her actual wedding dress for the whole day, as when she returned to Buckingham Palace after the service and wedding breakfast she withdrew to change into ‘a white silk gown trimmed with swansdown and a white bonnet with orange flowers’, an outfit very similar to her original ensemble.
Years later, Victoria would allow her favourite daughter Beatrice (who would be one of the queens few close companions in her widowhood) to wear her wedding veil at her own wedding in 1885 (see photograph below). She would be the only daughter of Victoria allowed this special privilege. In addition later still, Victoria would be buried wearing her lace veil, in 1901

Featured Image Emily Blunt as Victoria on her wedding day, The Young Victoria 2009
Sources -
Becoming Queen, Kate Williams
Historic Royal Places
Photograph #3 by Daily Mail


Christine Nilsson as ‘Marguerite’ in Charles Gounod’s opera, ‘Faust’, in the year 1864, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.

(Photograph source: The Guy Little Theatre and Performance Collection)

And your mind is blown, because, YES, Christine Nilsson (otherwise known as Kristina Jonasdotter), who served as an inspiration for Christine Daae in Gaston Leroux’s “The Phantom of the Opera”, performed in Her Majesty’s Theatre- the exact same theatre where, more than a century later, a musical whose main heroine was likely inspired by her, would premiere and make history.

Don’t believe me? Well, then, there’s this to convince you; 

(Source: “Melba, The Voice of Australia”, by Therese Radic)

[She also sang as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, again in Her Majesty’s Theatre, in 1865]

This is just so unbelievable for me- the moment I found out about this, I had to read it again and again to convince myself that my eyes were not deceiving me. And once I realised that what I had just read, was, indeed, what was printed on the page, I got a headache by how beautifully ironic it is.

Did it ever cross Christine Nilsson’s mind that, half a century after her death, she would be immortalised in the face of Christine Daae? I do not know. What I do know, however, is that she must be turning in her grave right now because of how fascinated I am by this recent discovery.

7

I can’t believe it’s already almost mid-November! Time has flown by at an alarming rate— it’s been almost an entire year since I made this gown and cloak set for the @failbettergames Hallowmas competition. I don’t believe I ever posted the full photoset here so this seemed the perfect time for some slightly belated Fallen London goodness. Clayr isn’t a character for whom the (marginally less than) Respectable Grey Gown is entirely appropriate, but as I am personally quite fond of the color grey I made it anyways, “terrifying, lethal, midnight and sinister lady” aside. :^) Maybe I’ll attack the (much more suitable) Parabola Linen Frock next time.

The process of patterning both the gown and cloak was exceedingly UnFun and I do not recommend it. 

(As a side note, I have been playing Fallen London since it was Echo Bazaar— 15 February, 1891, to be precise. While the name has changed the game itself has continued to be an utter delight and I would recommend it without reservation. It’s much more fun than wrangling antique patterns and hand stitching eyelets, at least.)

London and the Culture of Homosexuality -- Masterpost

I’ve finished the book London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914 by Matt Cook. We’ve learned a lot along the way and now that it’s finished, I thought I’d compile everything into one post for easier access.

1) Empty train carriages, Molly houses, and moustaches on trial

2) “That’s not a sentence you hear every day” - how modern Sherlock incorporates Victorian-era facial hair code

3) Gay lit is gay, the Criterion bar is gay, Turkish baths are gay, green carnations are gay, button holes are gay

4) Homosexual men loved to liaise at the Criterion Bar

5) TJLC is Real: Carefully-Chosen Words and Public Opinion

6) Sherlock fits a case study of a period-relevant homosexual man

7) Anal violins

8) Gay graffiti worth writing about in your memoirs

9) Cabs were helpful, Gothic romance was queer, literary gay subtext was criminal evidence, the male-on-male gaze was a stand-in for sex, and idealised male nudes were all the rage

10) Every Great Cause Has Martyrs - how language used in the TAB trailer mirrors that used by Victorian homosexual men

11) Did Victorian-Era Gay Men Think Sherlock Holmes Was Gay?

12) The closest thing I’ve ever written to a personal TJLC manifesto

Discussions/asks/misc with other people about the book: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

Buy the book online

Thank you to everyone who read/commented/liked/reblogged posts from my little readalong liveblog. I loved doing it and I hope you liked it too.

Up next:

Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb