When I started out on my 17th Century fashion odyssey I had just three books about historic costume. Now I have many more, but let’s have a look at those books which got me started.
Back in the days when the BBC was good, along came a drama exploring the tragedy of a family torn apart by the English Civil Wars of the mid 17th Century.
The Children of Green Knowe is a four part children’s drama which aired on the BBC in 1986. Based on the book of the same name by Lucy M. Boston, the story follows lonely schoolboy Tolly as he discovers more about his ancient family history and some of the legends surrounding the house they all lived in.
King Charles II is surely the most affable and easy going of all the Stuart monarchs – as my husband says he’s the sort of bloke you’d buy a pie and a pint down the pub. He’d seen battle at close range at the tender age of 12, been separated from both parents by civil war, and been the ‘most wanted’ man in the country he was born to rule over, famously hiding up an oak tree, disguising himself as a humble countryman, cutting off his long dark hair, dying his skin brown with nut juice and wearing footwear which was too small for him, leaving his feet blistered and bloody. No wonder then that when he finally escaped over the Channel to the continent Charles Stuart lived every day as if it might be his last.
I used to work in a castle which had a beautiful 17th Century Long Gallery with two free standing painted figures of children – ‘silent companions’ – either side of one of the fireplaces. These were much remarked upon by visitors and were some of the star pieces of the historic collection. Their purpose is uncertain, creating a sense of mystery. So, when I was looking for a spooky book to read, Laura Purcell’s ‘The Silent Companions’ instantly grabbed my attention.