The Tudor Roses are very proud to have Claire Ridgway of The Anne Boleyn Files fame and acclaimed author of two Anne Boleyn history books, write a guest BLOG as part of her Virtual Book Tour. We are very excited about hosting Claire on The Rose Garden and we hope that you will all enjoy reading about Claire's experiences of dressing up as Anne Boleyn. There is also a great Tudor related competition at the bottom of this BLOG! So without further delay we hand you over to Claire....
The lovely Claire Ridgway
Thank you so much to the beautiful Tudor Roses for hosting me on their blog as part of my virtual book tour, I'm excited to be here.
I must admit to being very jealous of these ladies who get to dress up as Tudor women at historic properties on a regular basis, but I can't complain really as I have had the opportunity three times now to dress up as my favourite historical person, Anne Boleyn, at her home, Hever Castle. They were experiences that I will never forget.
I've always enjoyed dressing up – from trying on my Mum's high heels, as a child, and parading around the house, to dressing up as Cruella De Vil and chasing a dalmatian around the school assembly hall, when I was a teacher. Dressing up is all about using your imagination and becoming someone else. You become temporarily transformed, physically and mentally.
I had fallen in love with the red velvet dress that Natalie Dormer wore as Anne Boleyn in “The Tudors” series, in the scene where Anne is created Marquis of Pembroke. I knew very well that the costumes in the show were not in keeping with those worn during Henry VIII's reign, but that dress had just caught my eye. I had the dress made by a costumer and it was amazing, it looked just like Natalie's dress. It was made out of sumptuous, red, crushed velvet decorated with gold beaded appliqués. I couldn't wait to try it on when it arrived!
It was at that moment that I realised why Tudor ladies had maids. Trying to get a corset and Tudor dress on by yourself is near impossible. My corset and bodice both laced at the back, so I held them in position while my husband laced me up. As soon as I was in it, I felt completely different. The corset and bodice were both boned so I was holding myself differently for a start, but it was more than that, I felt special, I felt like a queen! I knew that I had to take it on our Anne Boleyn tour and wear it at Hever.
The first time I wore it at Hever Castle was in May 2010. We had taken a group there on a tour and part of the tour was an afternoon show featuring a gentleman called John dressed up as King Henry VIII. It was too good a chance to miss! Those ladies who had Tudor costume with them dashed off to get changed for a photo opportunity. It was a glorious day, so we went out on the lawn outside the Astor Wing and stood with Henry by the moat, with Hever Castle in the background. We looked beautiful and we felt amazing. We felt even more special when tourists started asking us if they could take our photos!
Me as Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle with Henry VIII.
Later that day, Henry VIII escorted our group to dinner in the main castle dining room and I sat there in the Boleyn family dining room, in my Anne Boleyn dress, surrounded by tapestries, portraits and other historical artefacts. I felt like pinching myself as Henry banged on the table to give us permission to start our meal. It was like stepping back in time.
In May 2011, I wore my dress again to eat in the dining room of Hever Castle and those of us who had dressed up in Tudor costume gathered at one end of the room for photos. It was at that point that someone realised that we had a man and six ladies: Henry VIII and his six wives! We quickly manoeuvred ourselves so that Henry was in the middle flanked by his wives. That was a fun photo.
Henry VIII and his six wives?
The downside to wearing Tudor costume was the heat and the restriction. There I was, in the castle dining room, with a roaring fire behind me and a roast dinner in front of me – hmmm... How was I going to fit that food in when I could hardly breathe anyway? Then, the heat got to me and I started to feel faint. Time for some fresh air in the courtyard! It must have been worse for real Tudor ladies in heat-waves, as they would had extra layers, like a smock and kirtle – phew!
Whenever I have worn my dress, or seen others wear Tudor costume, people comment on the dramatic change. You stand differently, you glide around, you have poise and dignity. One lady who dressed as Anne Boleyn changed before our eyes. It wasn't just her clothes, her whole demeanour and facial expressions changed; she became who she thought Anne Boleyn was. It was an incredible transformation.
The Anne Boleyn Experience 2011 at Hever Castle (Organised by The Anne Boleyn Files)
It's been nearly a year now since I put my dress on and I regret that I don't have the opportunity to wear it more often. I would love it if there were Renaissance Faires or historical festivals near me, but I live in rural Spain and the only opportunity to dress up is Mardi Gras. Perhaps I will dress up for that and be a queen for a day once more.
If you have the chance to dress up as a Tudor gentleman or lady then grab it with both hands. It is a wonderful experience and one you will treasure for ever. Just be prepared to turn into a completely different person!
Claire's book; The Fall of Anne Boleyn - A Countdown
Highly recommened by The Tudor Roses for anyone who has an interest in Anne Boleyn!
In celebration of Claire's guest BLOG on The Rose Garden, The Tudor Roses have a competition for all you Anne Boleyn and Tudor fans to win a fantastic prize. To be in with the chance to win a Henry VIII and his Six Wives Drink Charms Set kindly donated by The Anne Boleyn Files, all you need to do is email us the answer to the following question...
Claire's second book is shown above, but, what is the title of her first book?
If you think you know the answer email us and the winner will be randomly picked from the correct entries on Saturday 16th June. The winner will then be notified by email.
The email address to send your answers to is email@example.com
Good luck to all of you!
The Anne Boleyn Files Henry VIII and his Six Wives Drink Charms.
Enter our competition to win your very own set!
While you're at it, don't forget to visit The Anne Bolyen Files and The Tudor Roses Facebook pages!
A BIG thank you to Claire for your guest BLOG, it is an honour and a privilege to have you write for The Rose Garden. Also thank you for your very generous donation of the prize for our competition!
The Tudor Roses