Secrets of historic royal fashion revealed in new online course

Published: 26 March 2018

A new free online course called A History of Royal Fashion allows people to go behind the scenes of the royal wardrobes of Britain.

Dr Sally Tuckett launching a History of Royal Fashion Online Course

Dr Sally Tuckett of the University of Glasgow in the main hall in the Banqueting House with live costumed interpreters (l-r) Emma and Victoria (Credit: Historic Royal Palaces)

Fascinated by fashion? Ever wondered how clothes connect us and the kings and queens of the past?

A new free online course called A History of Royal Fashion, on the FutureLearn platform, allows people to go behind the scenes of the royal wardrobes of Britain.

Designed and delivered by the University of Glasgow and independent charity Historic Royal Palaces it will lay bare the style secrets of the power dressing Tudors, fashion-conscious Stuarts, and the complicated dress etiquette of the Victorians.

Dr Sally Tuckett, Lecturer in Dress and Textile Histories, University of Glasgow said: “Working with the team at Historic Royal Palaces has been a great opportunity to see how history, fashion, and space all come together.

“Seeing surviving historic garments, often in the palaces in which they were originally worn, offers a unique insight into the history of royal fashion and we are really excited to show everyone the stories and discussions that the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection can lead to.

“We’ve had a great response from people around the world with thousands of people already enrolled and we can’t wait to get started on the 7th May.”

Dr Megan Gooch from Historic Royal Palaces said: “We are delighted to have joined forces with the University of Glasgow to explore the stories of royal fashion in this online course. We’ve worked together to share our expertise, collections and palace spaces to bring this fascinating subject to life.”

Just like our own clothes, royal fashions over the centuries could be practical or functional, yet they also had a vital part to play in pageantry, iconography and even diplomacy. If you’ve ever worn that jumper you got for Christmas when the person who gave it to you visits, then you may have more in common with fashion royalty than you’d realise.

Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, said: “We’re delighted that our partner, The University of Glasgow, is collaborating with the Historic Royal Palaces to educate our learners all over the world about the intricacies of royal wardrobes throughout the ages and the palaces they’ve been worn in. Fashion and history are subjects close to our learners’ hearts so we’re not at all surprised that the course has already attracted a lot of attention.”

Taking place over five weeks, this online course will delve into the fashion hits and misses of some of history’s most well-known British royals. The course will also explore some of the greatest palaces ever built - the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and the Banqueting House on London’s Whitehall.

By studying the clothes worn in these palaces, including items from the stunning Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at Kensington Palace and the Tudor-era Bristowe hat – thought to have been worn by Henry VIII - at Hampton Court Palace, we can learn a lot not just about the monarchs themselves, but also about their subjects and the times in which they lived.

The course includes a range of activities and materials which will bring to life the princely costumes of the past, encouraging learners to consider their links with clothing choices of today.

‌The course A History of Royal Fashion is open for enrolment and commences on the 7 May 2018. Join us to explore how historic kings and queens have used fashion and clothing to control, to entertain and to impress.

Dr Sally Tuckett launching a History of Royal Fashion Online Course

Dr Sally Tuckett in front of Tudor chimneys and a Stuart colonnade in Clock Court at Hampton Court Palace (Credit: Historic Royal Palaces)

 Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle.

The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection tells the story of British monarchy through 10,000 items of historic dress. It falls into three parts: clothes worn by members of the royal family from the 17th century to today, uniforms worn by people performing official roles in British court ritual, and fashionable dress worn by the people who attended court functions at the royal palaces from c.1700-1958.

The collection includes the UK’s most extensive grouping of men’s court uniform, the best British collection of court mantuas (enormous dresses which were the ‘uniform’ of the Georgian court), and the intimate and sometimes very touching items worn by some of Britain’s most charismatic royals: George III, George IV, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales.

First published: 26 March 2018

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