A silk dress and a mysterious embroidery

This week we had an American visitor staying and so made a trip up the beautiful Northumberland.  We went to Bamburgh Castle, a magnificent building which dominates the small town and the beach below. Even the gateway speaks of the might and power of the castle. It is in private hands, but can be visited all year round and is well worth the entrance fee.


Of course I was on the look-out for textiles and other decorative items and was delighted to find a silk dress dated about 1750 which belonged to Dorothy Forster (who lived from 1686-1767 and was at one time mistress of Bamburgh Castle. You can see the features of the dress in spite of the reflection of the glass case.

Dress worn by Dorothy Forster, Bamburgh Castle

The dress was worn with the matching shoes, visible at the bottom of the case. Apparently, the dress originally had the very practical facility of ribbons sewn to the hem which then attached to buttons at the back of the waist, so that the hems of the skirt could be held up slightly to stop them from getting dirty (and presumably also thereby showing off the matching shoes!)

It had a frilled front bodice.


The elaborate ruched cuffs were separate from the dress.


One small area of the dress was un-faded (remarkable after nearly 200 years) and it was possible to see the vibrant colours of chartreuse and deep pink of the original. This was some time (a century!) before the invention of commercial artificial dyes. Quite a dress!


Also in the castle were two pieces of embroidery based on the so-called ‘Bayeux Tapestry’ (which is an embroidery, not a woven piece), made in the 20th century and bought by Lady Armstrong (then mistress of the castle) for charity in 1966. You can see outline stitch, stem-stitch and couched threads depicting the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.


There is a link to find out more about Bamburgh Castle, including opening times at the end of this post.

This week, issue 62 of Quilt Now was published and two of my projects are inside.

Firstly, there is a useful bag for travelling, just right for holding a passport, tickets and purse, so you always have them safe. It’s called ‘Adventure Awaits’

'Adventure Awaits' travel bag by Amanda Jane Ogden
‘Adventure Awaits’ travel bag by Amanda Jane Ogden (photo by Quilt Now)

Secondly, there is a large double-bed quilt called ‘Cornflower Blue’ with some bold quilting motifs within the blocks.


For more information about visiting Bamburgh Castle, go to: https://www.bamburghcastle.com/info

Thank you for reading my blog. Quilt patterns are here, Fabrics are here, Classes are here.

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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