Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Costumes bringing us closer


Above: The Sewall-Scripture House, built in 1832, at 40 King Street in Rockport , Massachusetts. It is one of two museums in Rockport administered by the Sandy Bay Historical Society

Google the little coastal town of Rockport to see where it lies exactly in the state of Massachusetts and you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re looking at a very odd map of England.

There’s admittedly no Rockport here on our side of the Pond but as for the names of towns in the surrounding area of this part of the NW United States  they’re all vivid reminders of how that part of Massachusetts was settled by refugees from religious persecution back in England, mainly in the 17th century. 

Ipswich, Gloucester, Manchester, Reading, Malden, Wakefield, Woburn, Haverhill, Newbury... the list goes on and on.

So I’m always pleased to receive any friendly or enquiring emails from the USA keen to revive those centuries-old connections.

Rockport native the Rev. Sarah Clark is a Unitarian Universalist minister who has an extensive background in theatre arts and is an enthusiastic reader of Joyce Dennys’ ‘Henriette’ books as well as being a keen reader of bulletins from the Budleigh-Brewster blogger. 

“I particularly enjoyed Dennys’ connection with Budleigh Salterton because, as you know I'm sure, Budleigh Salterton is in the dialogue of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, a play dear to my heart,” she told me. “Brewster is lovely. I preached in the UU church there when precandidating for Plymouth. It's a beautiful old New England church.”


This white summer dress dates from the early 1900s. It was pointed out that the dress would have been worn with a slip but for exhibition purposes showed off the crochet better without
Sarah’s connection with Fairlynch Museum gets even closer, as she explained.  She wrote to tell us of the exciting finds that she and her colleagues made at her own museum, including the dresses pictured here.
“I am docent and head of collections at our local Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum so see lots of parallels in our activities,” she wrote. [For English readers a ‘docent’ is an American term for a guide in places like museums].

“This summer we held a special off-site exhibit of some of the vintage clothes (1780-2000) we found smashed away in our closets. A lot of work but also fun and well received.”  [I think she means ‘stashed’ but maybe not.]


An 1859 blue wedding dress 
Anyway the costume finds caused some excitement over there. You can read all about it at

And you can find out about Sarah’s Museum at

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Michael, for this lovely article on SBH and me. I was surprised to find us here. Yes, smashed is right for the way the clothes were in the closet, smooshed if there is such a word would also be accurate. What amazed us was that even with such ill treatment the clothes survived -- probably due to the dark. We are now spending the fall going through another stash of clothes in the attic