2023 Tour Recap

Hello, Voyagers!

We are back after another magical Grand British Textile Tour. It was a delight to be back in England, especially with such a lovely group of textile enthusiasts. 

I know I’ve been slow in sharing this recap with you. I think you’ll see why – this is a looong email. I’ve tried to keep it brief, but we had so many wonderful experiences that it is hard to keep it short.

I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures, come along as we re-live the 2023 Grand British Textile Tour. 

Betsy B
We met our guide Cindy bright and early Monday morning at No. 1 Savile Row. This is a small street with a large fashion history. We visited several tailors, who were incredibly generous in sharing their time and stories. We learned about different tailoring cuts, techniques, and fabrics. This is always a highlight of our visit, and it is extra special because it is a little different every time. 
I had heard so many rave reviews of Style & Society, Dressing the Georgians exhibit – and our trip didn’t disappoint! The exhibit was at Buckingham Palace and while most of the stories were told through paintings and other artwork, the few pieces of period clothing they had on display were absolutely exquisite. 
I love visiting artists in their studios and getting the chance to learn how they create their work. So, our tour of Cockpit Studios was fascinating. We met with three incredible textile artists who shared with us their creative stories. Then, we had the incredible honor of visiting with textile designer Sarah Campbell, who told us stories of her long and illustrious career. 
London was full of fashion exhibits this season, and the Crown to Couture exhibit was at the top of my list. Kensington Palace was transformed for the ultimate Met Gala with historical and modern costumes decorating the beautiful rooms. It was full of dazzling garments worn by courtiers from the 1600s right up to the Queen herself, Beyonce. 
Before the tour began, Emily and I spent a day at Liberty of London, where we slowly explored every department. From stationery to haberdashery, everything was a feast for the eyes. A few days later, we returned with the group for a private tour of the store. Our guide, Ian, was knowledgeable and passionate about the history and vision of the store. It was a real treat – as was our private afternoon tea!
After three days in London, it was time to head to Bath. We stopped at the American Museum & Gardens in Bath, where we enjoyed a textile tour of the museum, followed by a private viewing of their quilt collection. The museum has an impressive collection of textiles and the gardens are stunning. 
I don’t know if I’ve ever impressed upon you how much I love going to Highgrove, which is King Charles’ private home. I mean, not as his personal guest or anything, but the garden tour is spectacular. This year, we had a new Highgrove experience – we took a printing workshop! Highgrove now has studio spaces dedicated to promoting British craft, and they kindly designed a workshop for us with a local artist. It was a relaxing and creative afternoon. 
You can’t go to the British countryside and not visit a manor, right? We explored Rodmarton Manor, which is an incredible piece of Arts & Crafts architecture. The building, much of the furniture and decorations, and the gardens were all originally built by hand using local stone, timber and craftsmen. It was particularly interesting because it is a family home, which they open on the weekends. Can you imagine living there? And, oh! the garden. 
After our visit to Rodmarton, we were invited to meet with artist Jenny Stringer in her studio. Jenny works with block printing and demonstrated her process for us. She was so kind and knowledgeable – I think we all wished we could have stayed longer just to watch her work. 
We were based in Bath, which you probably recognize from countless period movies and TV shows, including Bridgerton. While there, we enjoyed a historical walking tour and popped into the No. 1 Royal Crescent museum, which is like visiting a genuine Georgian-era home. It even included some beautiful textile pieces, like this elaborate embroidered woman’s pocket. 
Later that same day, we were privileged to visit with Jo Willis, who is a historical milliner. She works out of her home studio, creating incredible pieces for major Hollywood movies – including Titanic and Sense & Sensibility. It was such a lovely visit and so fascinating to learn a little about the inner workings of the costume industry!
Finally, we returned to London – and we saved the best for last. A day at the Victoria and Albert Museum, complete with a visit to the Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto exhibit. It did not disappoint! I’ll share more photos in a later email, but suffice it to say, it was full of eye candy. 
If you’ve made it to the end of the email, I salute you! I know it was a long one. Thanks to my co-host Emily for helping me keep everyone together, and our lovely group for making the trip a real joy. Now, I’m digging into the itinerary for 2024!