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The Platt Hall Collection in Manchester

April 15, 2010
1860s day dress coloured with the new aniline chemical purple dye which gave far richer colour than vegetable dye

1860s day dress coloured with the new aniline chemical purple dye which gave far richer colour than vegetable dye

The well known textile designer Laura Ashley once acknowledged that Platt Hall in Manchester had been one of her principle sources of inspiration when she first started out as a designer. It’s a terrific and varied collection with some of the most helpful staff I have ever met. Only a small proportion of the total collection can be on display, so if you have a particular interest for research purposes, it’s a good idea to get in touch before visiting to ask if they can help. 

early 17th century crewel embroidered jacket

early 17th century crewel embroidered jacket

Amongst its earliest items are heavily embroidered jackets from the early and mid seventeenth centuries, and a selection of sweet bags and sewing accessories.

mid -late 17th century crewel embroidered jacket, showing fashionable oversize sleeves

mid -late 17th century crewel embroidered jacket, showing fashionable oversize sleeves

However, its main delight is in the collection of domestic and day dresses from the eighteenth and particularly the nineteenth centuries. Their charm lies in the fact that these are more ordinary garments, worn by the comfortably off as opposed to being cutting edge fashion worn by the leaders of society. Ornate dresses made for special occasions, such as marriage, were invariably cared for and passed down and form the principal part of many collections around the country, but Platt Hall has ordinary clothes: day dresses, gowns,  bonnets, caps and outer garments which form an invaluable resource for an re enactor or interpreter.

front view: ornate silk day dress 1860s

front view: ornate silk day dress 1860s

There is also a stored collection of baby wear, which is very helpful when trying to date items, as their collection is provenanced. Platt Hall is not very far from the preserved Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate protected by the National Trust, just near the airport to the South of the city. This working cotton mill gives a clear and detailed explanation of both the history of cotton and the processes involved in turning it from a fluffy flower head into a major textile. Far from being a dry and dusty experience, the knowledge and enthusiasm of the volunteer staff, many of whom used to work here, made this mill a joy to visit.

rear view of silk day dress

rear view of silk day dress

1870s light wool walking dress

1870s light wool walking dress

http://www.manchestergalleries.org/our-other-venues/platt-hall-gallery-of-costume/visitor-information/

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarry-bank-mill/

From → Textiles

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