Clippesby church fashion exhibition reveals fabric of local life

Clippesby church exhibition of dresses through the ages.Exhibition organisers (left to right) Jane F

Clippesby church exhibition of dresses through the ages.Exhibition organisers (left to right) Jane Foskett, Sara May and Jean Lindsay. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A rich seam of history was on show at a Norfolk church, as the story of a village was told in dresses.

Clippesby church exhibition of dresses through the ages.Lyn Brooks (left) and Fran Lyndsay.

Clippesby church exhibition of dresses through the ages.Lyn Brooks (left) and Fran Lyndsay. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Mannequins were rounded up and ushered into Clippesby St Peter's church for a showcase of fashion through the decades.

Clippesby church exhibition of dresses through the ages.Summer Roberts (2) with her nanny Rachael La

Clippesby church exhibition of dresses through the ages.Summer Roberts (2) with her nanny Rachael Lacey. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Among the garments revealing the fabric of east Norfolk life were a 1950s cocktail dress, a tweed coat from the 1940s and a selection of 1920s flapper attire.

Organiser Jean Lindsay put together the collection, loaned from friends in the area, and she was delighted with its reception.

'It's been good and there were representatives of families who lived here in the 1930s and 1940s who visited,' she said. 'I've been church warden here for 46 years and I've always loved where I live and been interested to squirrel things away.


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'We ask people their memories and that's what brought it about.

'We wanted to give people the opportunity to see and to chat and reminisce.'

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She dubbed the exhibition, now in its sixth year, Harvest Of A Quiet Eye.

The name is taken from A Poet's Epitaph by William Wordsworth.

Mrs Lindsay, 80, has lived at Clippesby Hall since the 1940s and used to run the holiday park there.

She is building an archive of village history there, and has previously recorded pieces of oral history at the annual exhibition.

'People who lived in the village years ago come to visit,' she explained.

'Sometimes we do photographs and maps and plans, and we're trying to update the churchyard plan. That all goes on.'

A note was placed in the parish magazine, but she said momentum really started to build by word of mouth.

One person who heard of the project was Caroline Watson, 65, of Lingwood.

Her mother, Christine Bower, used to live in Clippesby Hall, and she volunteered some of her old dresses for the collection – including a 21st-birthday dress.

'I just keep them in these water-proof covers,' said Ms Watson. 'My family held on to them so I feel I ought to.

'It's sort of come back to where it started.'

The eldest item dated back to the 1850s, with many local links.

One dress was made from silk from Grout's mill in Great Yarmouth and a coat came from Arnold's of Yarmouth.

Newer items were also on display, including a Mary Queen of Scots replica dress made in 2000 by Freya Pointer.

Paul Cheall gave a talk on wartime diaries on Saturday, and visitors discusses local history – including how Clippesby Hall was built from Earlham House, taken down brick by brick and moved.

Organisers have hailed businesses from across the county which together donated a dozen mannequins, including BHS, a Beccles charity shop, Roys of Wroxham and Acle Garden Machinery.

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