A striped satin robe à la Française, circa 1770, the blue stripes brocaded with leaf scrolls and buds, the broad white stripes with floral sprays, triple engageants, pleated robings to front closure, all trimmed with scalloped, silk fringed braid, matching petticoat and an attached original stomacher panel made from matching silk, similarly trimmed.
Provenance: via a branch of the family descended from Earl Grey of Howick Hall, Alnwick, Northumberland. The gown would have been made during the time of the 1st Earl Grey (1729 - 1807). A distinguished soldier, he served in both the Seven Years War (1756-1763), which resulted in the defeat of France, the American War of Independence and the French Revolutionary Wars and was subsequently created Viscount Howick and Earl Grey in 1806 in recognition of his distinguished military service. He married Elizabeth Grey of Southwick (1744-1822) in 1762, so it is possible this dress belonged to her. Their eldest son - Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, Statesman and Prime Minister - will forever be associated with the tea which still bears his name, which he had specially blended in China with added Bergamot to offset the taste of the lime in the local Howick water.
Condition Report: • The robe: the gathers at the skirt sides have been unpicked, the upper edges cut and re-sewn to form wider panniers sides. The original pocket slits have been sewn up but still extant. The hem had been turned over but this has been unpicked so that the hem falls to its original shape and length. Upper right shoulder/underarm seam needs re-stitching. Perspiration stains to original linen bodice lining at underarms but not visible on the exterior satin. Brown stains, mainly concentrated along hem edge – these appear faintly on the front of the fabric. The exterior satin appearance is generally good and the stains are not obvious when mounted. A finger loop has been added later to rear left skirt near hem. • Stomacher: The original stomacher has been sewn into the bodice of the dress on one side, with extra added panel of fabric down one side (probably from the petticoat) with press-stud fasteners, Corresponding extra panel of fabric stitched into the left side of the bodice and attached to the other side of the stomacher in order to widen the front bodice of the gown. • Petticoat: This would have been wider, it now consists of just four loom widths. The waistline is very altered with an added machine stitched band 19cm deep added all around the circumference at the top, with a more fitted 19th century waistline now. Fabric taken from the petticoat was probably used to add to the sides of the stomacher. Original hem had been raised but we have unpicked it and it now falls to the original length. Several small brown stains down the now front panel. Small hole to front left side. Occasional scattered brown stains to front of skirt – but not immediately noticeable when mounted.
Bust: ~ 89 cm
Waist: ~ 65 cm
Front Length: ~ 140 cm
Back Length: ~ 175 cm