Princess Mary’s Wedding Dress Set, by Revelle, London (1922)
PRINCESS MARY’S WEDDING DRESS SET: Train, Head Dress and Shoes, Revelle, London 1922: Harewood House, Yorkshire
The Princess Mary wedding dress set, worn at her wedding to Henry, Viscount Lascelles, on 28 February 1922, has a prominent place in the Harewood House collection and family history. It has been displayed in different settings, and has received repair and conservation treatment on numerous occasions.
During July and August 2019, we were honoured to be able to prepare the train, head dress and shoes from this set, for short term display in September 2019.
The train has a total length of 358 cm, a top width of 43.5 cm and a bottom width of 130 cm.
There is a join in the fabric, across the width of the train, approximately at ‘ground level’, given the height of the Princess.
The central section of the upper part of the train, down to the join, is not embroidered; presumably because it was covered by the veil.
In the top corners are two pairs of metal hooks, wrapped in cotton thread, to attach the train to the dress at the shoulders.
In the course of the conservation treatment, a notable discovery was made: close inspection of a small area of damage showed that the ground fabric of the train was a much more luxurious material than it seemed: the silk satin, with a distinctive twill pattern on the reverse, had a hidden weft of silver metal thread wrapped threads. This created the beautiful drape and weight of the fabric; but is also the reason the creases were so resistant to flattening, as the metal had bent. It explains also why the train had no lining.
The train was surface cleaned by vacuuming and using fine polyurethane sponges. Loose sections of looped metal thread lace, beads within the embroidery and hooks were secured with stitching using silk thread. Damaged ribbon was made stronger and the train was humidified in order to ease creasing. A strip of new silk satin, with a strip of soft side Velcro-tape, was then sewn to the top edge of the train, to provide a safe way of mounting the train for short term display.
The headdress consists of three cord bands wrapped with silver wrapped metal thread tape. Integrated into the headdress, and joining the bands, are orange blossom buds and flowers made up of waxed fabric, wax and paint.
The headdress is secured by a loop at each end; the loops are button-hole stitched. The original fastening does not now appear to be present.
Height: 7 cm/Diameter: Front-back 23 cm/Width: 20 cm.
The metal threads were surface cleaned using cotton swabs with clean saliva and the flowers and buds were surface cleaned using cotton swabs moistened with conservation detergent; both methods proved successful in reducing dust and oxidation products. A broken petal was re-attached, and three buds towards the back of the tiara were reinforced, both by using adhesive.
The shoes have an off-white silk satin outer and are lined with linen and leather.
They are decorated with a rosette of net and beads.
The shoes are in stable and reasonable condition, with slight surface soiling.
The shoes are 11.5 inches in length (including the pointed toe); bearing in mind Princess Mary was approximately 5″5′ tall, this could correspond to the size 5/6 shoe-size as we know it today.
The shoes and rosettes were surface cleaned using polyurethane sponges. Localised humidification was used along the openings of the shoes to reduce the creasing and allow reshaping, and on the rosettes to remove creases and distortions. Five loose glass beads were stitched back onto the rosette, on the proper right shoe. Both rosettes were attached to the shoes with two stitches each, using silk thread.
The Wedding Dress set was returned to Harewood House, where it went on short-term display during September 2019. It is hoped that it will form part of a display again in 2022, to commemorate 100 years since the wedding.
For more information on Harewood House, please click here.