Prior Attire Victorian Ball, Bath , 7th May 2016


Victorian Ball 2016 Ensemble -  May 07, 2016 - 1Well, I  thought our previous event at the venue was a blast – but  this year it was even better!

After a year of preparations, marketing, meetings, sales, dealing with emergencies and unplanned changes, sewing and general organisational madness,  the weekend finally arrived and it was amazing!

We had a subtheme of crinoline and  huge majority  of the ladies went for it 🙂 The size of the skirts meant we had to limit the amount of tickets, but at least we had space to move, to sit and to eat – although some of the dances were a bit squashed still – the first polonaise and the Spanish waltz were rather cosy and it was truly a miracle seeing all the big gowns  come into play.

But let us start at the beginning….

As organizers, and to have everything  under control, we arrived  on the eve of the event, staying with a friend in a rented apartment on the Circus – very convenient as we could see the Assembly Rooms from our windows!


The morning was spent productively – I had some bonnets and shoes to decorate, and we also had a visitor – Sherri from Farthingale Historical Hats popped round with a stock of gloves and parasols, so we had a browse and made our purchases.

As always, the dance  workshop  took place first.  The workshops are always a good idea as you familiarise yourself not only with the steps, but also with other people – and I was glad to see lots of folks from the previous ball – as well as many new faces. Covering some figures and a few dances at the workshop gave us more confidence at the ball, and accounted for a much more relaxed atmosphere.

Also, practising how to move in crinoline was essential ( a short movie on how to move in one is here), and many a lady used the workshop as an opportunity to wear her hoops and learn how to walk, sit and dance gracefully and without falling over. I usually stride, with long steps – so trying to adapt to small short ones  with the crinoline, was a bit of a challenge!


People wore everyday clothing, often with just the hooped skirts, or full Victorian dress – no dress code for the workshop! I must say I loved my 1852 day  dress – being linen/cotton mix it was light, and perfect for dancing. Eleanor had her  1858 cotton gown on for the occasion (btw, there will be a separate blog post on just the dresses, with many more pictures! :-))


After the workshop it was time to relax briefly, have some food – and then change into the evening clothes.

The first hour was arrivals, drinks and taking photos, in a nice relaxed atmosphere. Lucas  set up a simple photography centre and was snapping portraits – the photos are available on  Facebook, or in a high resolution on his website .


Generally, people relaxed, chatted and admired each other’s gowns – and let me  tell you, there was lots to admire! As a professional historical costumier, and a rather strict one, I was blown away by the quality of the frockage. Many ladies made their own gowns, following the tutorials I posted here, some were hired,  some commissions from either us or other dressmakers – but in short, the variety was amazing! just a few portraits below, again, you can see more on facebook in the link above..


The dancing commenced with a polonaise  – we just about fitted in the ballroom!



(thank you Heritage Focus for submitting the photos!)

And then, with a Spanish Waltz, the dancing commenced in earnest. We had  waltzes, quadrilles, polkas, country dances – the whole lot . All not too complex and easy to follow, all fun, so people with even limited or no dancing experience could join in with no problems – and the relaxed atmosphere meant that any mistakes were met with applause and friendly laughter rather than scorn. In short, lots of fun!



And that’s the team who provided the  the music – as before Alexis Bennett and his girls were superb. Sadly our favourite Dancemaster, Stuart Marsden cancelled  just before the ball due to health reasons – but not before he found us a replacement, Jane Walton, who agreed to help us out! Don’t worry, folks, Stuart is  recovering and is already booked for the 2017 ball 🙂

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Before we knew it, the finger buffet was served, and yet again Searcy’s worked wonders – the  food was amazing and plentiful!


Then it was time to pick up the pace and dance a bit more! I was unable to dance much, alas ( ankle tendinitis:-( ),  but that meant I could enjoying watching the dances and take photos and videos :-). It also gave me a chance to chat more to the guests – it was lovely to finally put the faces to the names on the tickets, and great to see people from not only all around the UK, but also Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland and the USA!  Looks like the ball is becoming a truly international event:-)

The last dance, a free waltz for all, sounded just before midnight – and like a flock of Cindrellas and princes Charming, the  guests slowly disappeared to rest….. And to prepare for Sunday Breakfast, of course…. 🙂


getting ready for the morning, wearing our day outfits

Just like last year we have booked tables at the Pump Rooms for breakfast. In fact so many people booked that there was a bit of a drama, when it turned out that  our table had already been utilised by other ball guests, but in the end it all turned out fine – and we had a stunning breakfast and some more photos….




Reinforced and revived by the food and excellent coffee, the parties broke up to do their own thing – some folks went for a walk, some were visiting parks and museums.

Our small party first went to the gardens for a short photo session…. where we were lucky to take our photo taken by a passing by photographer – so we have all three of us in one photo:-)

park photo

and then Lucas went mad with his own camera, clicking loads…

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Then it was time for a carriage ride – we booked a private ride from  Courtyard Carriages and went exploring Bath in style, stopping in places to take more photos

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the carriage cropped us off just in front of our apartment! 🙂

Next on the agenda was visiting the Fashion Museum, conveniently located in the Assembly rooms – we met up with friends and went exploring… followed by a collapse and coffee and cake in the apartment.

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Then a nap – and drive back home, exhausted but happy!


And guess what – we are doing it all again next year!

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The information is here , and the tickets are already on sale – in fact, 20% has already been sold! so I suppose I see you all back in Bath next year 🙂


Many thanks  to all of you who  bought tickets, came along and behaved impeccably, having a most splendid time – you were all fantastic! without you, the ball would not have taken place and would not have become a successful annual event –  so here’s to you, our guests! 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Prior Attire Victorian Ball, Bath , 7th May 2016

    • Crinolines were in fashion for roughly 2 decades and the styles varied- from skirts worn on crib, cafes and elliptical crinolines of the 1860s. Also, there was no regulated size – women purchased or made their own and the size depended on the size of the wearer, trends, purpose, material used. Lots of possibilities!

  1. I noticed in your film that the cage was very adjustable. Mine is rather stiff. May I Ask what you have made it from? I have used plastic and it cannot be bent.

  2. Hello Damsel in This Dress 🙂
    I’m quite new to historical costuming, and interested in most periods, though I particularly want to get into Victorian reenactment before hopefully expanding into other time periods. But though I’m learning and making progress with the sewing, I don’t know how to get started with groups and events! I live in Lancaster. Is there anywhere that’s good for information about what’s happening near me?


  3. Pingback: Prior Attire Victorian Ball 2018, 28th April, Bath | A Damsel in This Dress

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