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Exeter Cathedral

September 08, 2021



“She took a faltering step forward, tipped her head back and gazed, unblinking, at the soaring columns and the vaulted ceiling with its gaily painted bosses. Goosebumps slid down her neck and along her arms as she slowly released her breath. It was like being in a stone forest, with branches entwining high above. Near dazzled by the light from so many windows, she was in a new world full of gaudy colour and light. She felt like a tiny, insignificant speck as the vast cathedral cast its spell over her, and sank to her knees …

Names -  the frustrating vagaries of sixteenth century spelling!

July 19, 2021

Anyone who has researched their family history will be familiar with the frustration of finding, or more often missing, different spellings of their family name as they trawl through parish registers, wills and land transactions.  We are lucky to have access to sophisticated search engines and online catalogues, but it is so very easy to miss vital documents.  The further back you go, the worse if gets. Amongst the records that remain to us from the sixteenth century and before, its an absolute minefield! So when searching for records that mention the characters in A Woman of Noble Wit I …

Change your sleeves - change your look - Almain sleeves

July 19, 2021

In this series of posts I’m going to share my experience of making different types of sixteenth century sleeves,  starting with a fashion called Almain sleeves.  I made these when pattern testing for the Tudor Tailor’s forthcoming book “The Typical Tudor”, which will include full  instructions. - learn more here The Tudor Tailor


Here I’ll just give you a flavour of the construction techniques involved.



But first a bit of background……………….

Sixteenth century sleeves, both for men and for women, were often separate items, sometimes made up …

Lifting the veil that separates us from times long past - St. Thomas a Becket, Bridford, Devon

July 19, 2021

Devon’s churches have stood sentinel over the lives of countless generations and remain to give us a unique window into forgotten times.   Stonework, windows, roof timbers, magnificent carvings, glorious painted rood screens, fonts and pulpits, monuments, memorials and gravestones - all evoke a strong spirit of place and have echoes of past lives.  Many of these ancinet buidlings have hardly changed since those masons and carpenters laboured long to create such enduring beauty.  As a writer I spend a lot of time exploring these wonderful survivors, walking in the …

The Challenge of Creating an Elizabethan Ruff

May 02, 2021

No item of clothing more clearly signals the Elizabethan age than the ruff.  The wearers, men and women alike, hold their heads proudly above those familiar cartwheels of crisp white folds in many a portrait.


Don’t believe anyone who tells you this fashion statement came about as a means to catch the dribbles down your chin when eating dinner!  It is thought that ruffs evolved from decorated collars that adorned shifts and men’s shirts from the early 1500s onwards.