Whitby and Wedding Dresses


This weekend, we had a lovely trip to Whitby and it reminded me of why I chose it as a setting for Some Veil Did Fall. It’s such a quaint, magical place, and there is so much history there, rubbing shoulders with the contemporary world. There’s nowhere quite like it.

One of the reasons we went was because I wanted to see an exhibition at the Pannett Art Gallery; a beautiful collection of paintings from the Staithes Group of Artists. This group was a colony of about 25 artists, inspired by the Impressionists, who lived and worked in North Yorkshire from about 1894 to 1909. Famous members included Harold and Laura Knight, better known, perhaps as members of the Newlyn School down in Cornwall. If you ever visit the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, just hope that they are showing some of the Knight collection as they are wonderful pieces! The paintings in Whitby were just as beautiful as I’d hoped and very Turner-esque; but unfortunately no photography was allowed so I can’t show you them here. Google them, though, as you’ll see what I mean!

The paintings are housed in the Whitby Museum building, and another good reason to go to Pannett Park was to see the exhibition of wedding dresses there, dating from 1805 all the way up to the 1960’s. I could take pictures in there, so I have popped some on this blog post! Costume and fashion are true guilty pleasures of mine, and I love researching clothes for my historical heroines to wear. I can easily lose a couple of hours on Pinterest…

Whitby museum honestly had some fascinating pieces in, including a Hand of Glory – a mummified hand, potentially from the corpse of a hanged criminal. Traditionally, candles made out of the fat of the dead person were lit and placed within the hand to make it into a lamp, and this was allegedly a charm to make people sleep so burglars could break into houses. While we were in Whitby, we also went along Church Street, towards the 199 steps and the Abbey, because it would have been rude not to. There, I revisited my favourite jet workshop in Whitby, Ebor Jetworks, where my jet locket came from; my latest heroine works in a very similar place – I’ll pop some pictures on here of the hugely quirky and Gothic Ebor Jetworks as well (the place with the black dress inside), and you can see why my spirited Gothy heroine, Angel Tempest, would fit right in. She’s a little while away from ever seeing the light of day – but hopefully, one day, she’ll creep outside, blinking in the daylight with the Whitby sun flashing off the diamond stud in her nose! Whitby museum also had a stunning collection of jet, so I had a lovely time looking at that too.

It really was fascinating to see the Hand of Glory and the Staithes paintings, because I’ve mentioned them, and also Pannett Gallery, in the third book in the Rossetti Mysteries series. This book has been submitted to the publisher so fingers crossed (my fingers – not the mummified corpse fingers) they’ll like it. In the third book, during the historical part, a photographer goes to Staithes to capture the last days of the painters’ colony before it fades into a memory. So the first book in the Rossetti series, Some Veil Did Fall, has a Pre Raphaelite poem in; the second book, The Girl in the Painting has Pre Raphaelite paintings in; and the third one (my working title was Sea Spell) explores the world of Julia Margaret Cameron and Pre Raphaelite photography. A big shout out too, to Tom and Rosamund Jordan, who answered some questions for me ages ago when I first started writing Sea Spell. They are the chaps running the exhibition so please do go and visit them if you possibly can. Their website can be found at http://www.tbrj.co.uk/

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