ABOUT ME - 10 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - MY
RE-ENACTMENT LIFE - MY MEDIEVAL BIO
far back as the 13th century there are records of the Gilbert name being
linked to goldsmithing and the production of cloth and clothing in England
and so it's no wonder that researching and making medieval clothing
is a great passion of mine. The Gilbert family history stretches back
into medieval England and it is here that I find a fascinating period
in time with really cool clothes and women more empowered than most
Everything you see me wearing throughout
this website is all hand stitched, historically accurate clothing made
by myself. I used to have a business making clothes for others but I
really don't do that anymore. I am passionate about historical re-enactment
and women in the Middle Ages, particularly England where my family origins
are. As much as I have learnt, there always seems to be more to learn
and something new to discover. I give talks on Medieval Feminine Hygiene,
Recent Finds in Underwear, and Medieval Woman and Sex.
I also do storytelling for the littlies- Robin Hood and King Arthur
stories. I enjoy traditional longbow archery although I'm not particularly
good at it. I'm a lifetime member of the Friends of the ABBEY
MUSEUM OF ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY where I spend as much time
as I can but never as much time as I want. I'm also a member of the
LIVING HISTORY FEDERATION. I have a collection of ARTIFACTS,
mostly 14th century with a few from the 13th and 15th as well.
10 frequently asked questions:
Do you make your own medieval clothes?
Yes, I do! I love to sew, I've always been keen on costuming and I'm
a total strive-for-perfection nut so I really prefer to have a go at
making things myself if it's within my ability. Even if it's not, that's
not going to stop me having a go at it. There are photos of the things
I have sewn for myself HERE.
Where do you get your patterns from?
There are a few historical sources- clothing which has been studied
and reconstructed to give us an idea where the seams go and don't go!
Paintings and illuminations often show the internal lacing and the way
fabric hangs. Household rolls from the medieval period also provide
a wealth of information about fabrics, colours and clothing descriptions.
Sermons constantly had a great deal to say about clothing, especially
to women. Put altogether, we can make a picture of how the clothing
Your dresses are not really all hand-stitched,
Yes, again, they are! I really do like to reconstruct clothing as accurately
as possible, and for me this means sewing by hand using the kind of
seam joins that were used then. Occasionally I make clothes for other
people who aren't as strict in their costuming, and I do use a sewing
machine for the internal seams if they specifically ask me to. I still
hand-finish all the external seams and finishings- like eyelets and
hems. It takes a long time, for sure, but not as long as you'd think
and the sense of achievement when making something in the traditional
way is terrific!
What are you wearing.. um.. underneath?
Well, mostly medieval underclothes. I have a chemise, which is a pleated,
gauzy smock like a slip, woolen hose with garters. Okay.. I usually
wear underpants as well. Medieval women did also- just not the ones
What got you interested in re-enactment?
I'm not a girly girl and I rarely do dresses or skirts so it's a real
departure from how I actually am in real life. Costuming is something
I've always enjoyed from days in junior theatre, and it was natural
to me to take an interest in period costuming. From there, I became
interested in how it all went together: fabrics, shapes, seams. I I
attended a tournament as a MoP (member of public) and discovered that
groups of people keen on things historical get together all through
the year. Experimenting with medieval recipes, leatherwork, blacksmithing,
music, woodturning and furniture-making, candle-making, fighting, longbow
archery and jousting and discovering more about what people in different
areas did and didn't do provides a wealth of opportunities to get out
there and live what a lot of gamers do online.
How long have you been re-enacting?
My first MoP outfit was 2001 in cringe-worthy machine-sewed clothes
which at the time I thought were marvelous! It didn't even occur to
me then that I could join a group and learn all year round. I joined
a group in 2002. and I've been involved with a couple since then. I'm
with a Living History group, based in Brisbane and am a member of the
Queensland Living History Federation. Visit my MY
RE-ENACTMENT LIFE page if you're keen.
What do you do the rest of the year
when tournaments aren't on?
There's heaps to do off season. Research. Lots of research and preparing
for upcoming events. Apart from all the ongoing sewing projects and
embroidery, there's dress accessories to make or acquire, shoes, painting
of household things (like the backgammon board) and practicing medieval
recipes on willing and unsuspecting friends. I attend weekly get-togethers
with the rest of our medieval group.
Where do you get all your things?
I'm lucky that some friends and fellow-re-enactors have skills who can
teach me how to make things I don't know about. I'm game to have a go
at hand-making almost anything myself. Occasionally, you come across
a fellow-reenactor who sells goods or barters and I have some great
on-line journal buddies who offer a heap of good advice and encouragement
on projects. There are specialist artisans world wide who sell goods
online as well.
What does your friends/family/workmates
think about it?
My friends are mostly re-enactors, so they don't mind of course and
workmates are interested in a small way (except at tournament time when
they develop a kind of twitch when I mention it). Some of my family
are also interested in historical costuming, some ask kindly how new
things are going.
Are you a Princess?
(generally asked by little people under the age of 5, but it's a valid
Well no, I'm not. I do have a very lovely coronet I wear, so it's a
fair question when you're a Small Person and are Impressed By Crowns.
I have been involved in historical re-enactment since
2002. Groups include living history group Ex Libris, the Guild
of the Lily, 15th Century group, the Sable Rose, 14th Century
group Eslite d'Corp and 14th century group the Knights Order
of Lion Rampant.
Historical re-enactment tends to be a hobby
which demands more research and historical accuracy the longer you do
it. It seems that the more you know, the more you realise there is to
Upper Class Impression:
the Lady Rosamund Gylberte
Every re-enactor needs something to base their impression on. I started
with what kind of person I wished to portray and worked backwards from
there. Where possible, I wanted to include actual bits of my family
history or history of people sharing my family name in the Middle Ages.
My coat-of-arms is based on one of the actual Gilbert family coat-of-arms
and uses the motifs of the red chevron and the three roses. I also use
the family squirrel motif which is carved into stairwells and furniture
and on the iron entrance gates of Compton Castle.
I decided to base myself around the late
14th century English equivalent of Margherita Datini, who was a 14th
century wife of a successful Italian businessman. She was able to read,
write and although not noble, was aware of the niceties and etiquette
of her station- that of a woman of a certain social standing. Since
my own Gilbert name provides me with a knight, castle and lands at the
right period in the right country, I shall be using those as my personal
history, even though I am but a twig on the tree.
Of course, sometimes I'm not a Lady, I'm just a regular working women-
the kind you'd find in any prosperous town or city or employed in the
household of my Lady persona, and I dress and accessorise differently
history of the Gilbert family at Compton Castle
Compton Castle (pictured at right from the National Trust) is the Gilbert
family castle in Paignton, Devon, England and was originally built in
1320. It is the oldest building in the parish of Marldon, coming into
the possession of the Geoffrey Gilbert family in 1329 when he married
into the Compton family. It is now recognised as one of the best examples
of a fortified manor house in the country. Apart from a gap of 146 years
when the estate went out of the family, it has remained with the Gilberts
until handed to the National Trust in 1951. It is still occupied by
the Gilbert family today. Compton Castle is a fortified Manor House
but can be found in the National Trust listings under 'castle'. The
blurb on the Trust website reads:
portcullis entrances and buttressed walls pierced by arrow-slits and
chutes through which intruders could be pelted with stones, Compton
Castle has retained much of its medieval character. It was built around
1329 and enlarged during the 15th and 16th centuries by the Gilbert
family, whose home it still is. The solar, or medieval living room
and 15th century withdrawing room both have small windows through
which the family could watch services in the chapel. In the kitchen,
a cavernous hearth has ancient bread ovens on either side.
There was another tower and the completed
square floorplan did exist although not shown here. The outline walls
can be seen in the lawn after a sustained drought period, but it is
thought this part was probably destroyed in the Civil War. The end of
the Old Kitchen dates back to that time and some canon balls from the
civil war were found within the grounds. Part of the connecting archway
from the west Wing still remains today.
Church of St. John the Baptist was built by the Gilbert family
of Compton. The first recorded mention of a church or chapel is in 1348,
and the present tower was built by William Gilbert in about 1400, whose
son Otto built the church we see today, replacing the earlier building
referred to in 1348. The church is a fine building of local limestone
in the late Perpendicular style, the font being contemporary with the
1450 rebuilding. The church has six bells, the oldest being contemporary
with the tower and four others dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The red chevron and the three double roses, is but one of the Gilbert
family coat of arms heraldic devices. As a 21st century re-enactor,
I do not feel that it is inappropriate that I use it today for my own
household identification. In the 14th century, I would actually use
those of my husband as my property would in fact, be his and have his
heraldic devices on them.
I occasionally include the family squirrel as part of my encampment
devices, as the squirrel is used at Compton Castle carved in stairwells,
on bedposts, cast in the iron gates of the main entrance and on the
tomb effigy of Sir John Gilbert.
My Medieval Working Class Impression
I also have a working class impression- and because I like to stay with
my family theme, I portray a seamstress or tailor called Rose. I have
a sewing shop set up or in the past I've had a market stall with a static
display of sewing tools and a few things for sale. My clothing is more
humble- simple linens and wools.
In 2015, I reproduced a recreations of sewing scenes from manuscripts
like the famous health book, the Tacuinum Sanitatus.
I currently have an Interactive Sewing Display with medieval sewing
samples of cloth, wool, clothing pieces for handling and enquiry. All
my sewing tools are handmade reproductions of original museum pieces.
2016 St Ives Medieval Faire, Sydney. Educational displays.
2016 Queensland Living History Federation Conference. Artifact Study
2016 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, Fort Lytton National
Park with Ex Libris
2016 Tiny Treasures Exhibit.
Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology. Guest curator.
2016 Abbey Museum of Art &
Archaeology. Abbeystowe Re-enactor's Weekend with Ex Libris.
2016 British Museum's Medieval
Power: Symbols & Splendour at the Qld Museum
- Drink Dose and Digest. Presenter.
- Fashion Week. Presenter. Fashion Parade Co-Host.
- Medieval Women Week. Presenter. Reproduction Manuscript workshop
- Knights & Armour Week. Presenter.
- Heros & Monsters Week. Presenter.
- After Dark Presenter.
"Between Linen Sheets," 13 sessions over 4 weeks.
2015 Abbey Medieval Festival
with Ex Libris
2015 Queensland Living History Federation Conference with Ex Libris.
Artifact Study Presenter.
2015 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, Fort Lytton National
Park with Ex Libris
2014 Founding member Ex Libris
2014 St Ives Medieval Fayre with Knights Order of Lion Rampant
2014 Abbey Medieval Festival with Knights Order of Lion Rampant
2014 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, with Knights Order of
2013 Abbey Medieval Festival with Knights Order of Lion Rampant
2013 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, with Knights Order of
2013 Secretary Knights Order of Lion Rampant
2012 Abbey Medieval Festival with Knights Order of Lion Rampant
2012 Abbey Medieval Banquet Volunteer
2012 Medieval Working Class Clothing Hire Medieval Stallholders
2012 Kids Dig It Archaelogy Fun Day- Cultural Storyteller
2012 Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology: Kid's Medieval Fun Day-
2012 Viking Day Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology
2012 Mitchiefest Medieval Fayre with Knights Order of Lion Rampant
2012 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, with Knights Order of
2012 Custom medieval wedding dress commission
2012 Medieval consultant for independant short film
2012 Picnic at Pemberley, Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology.
2011 "Ask Milady" Medieval Q&A Pavillion at Abbey
2011 Abbey Medieval Tournament Lectures:
- Medieval Feminine Hygiene and
- Recent Finds In Medieval Underwear
2011 Costumes for Abbey Museum CEO & Abbey Museum Director
2011 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, with Knights Order of
2011 Medieval Photoshoot at New Farm Park
2010 Abbey Medieval Tournament Lectures:
- Medieval Feminine Hygiene
- Recent Finds in Medieval Underwear
2010 Picnic at Pemberley, Abbey Museum. Volunteer
2010 Walk for Winchester, Abbey Museum Stained Glass Fundraiser
2009 Lead World Champion jouster Rod Walker into jousting arena
on gold chain
2008 Life Membership of Friends Of The Abbey Museum
2009 Abbey Medieval Festival with Eslite d'Corp
2008 Abbey Medieval Tournament with Eslite d'Corp
2008 Picnic in the Gardens, Redcliffe Food Festival
2007 Abbey Tournament Market Co-ordinator
2007 Clothing & Seamstress Display, Abbey Tournament
2007 Caboolture Council Meeting - medieval costumes provided for
2007 Caboolture Council Meeting Medieval Council Meeting opening
2006 Abbey Tournament Market Co-ordinator
2006 Abbey Tournament Seamstress stall & static display
2006 Corporate logo launch at Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology.
2006 Suncorp Stadium Promotion for Abbey Medieval Tournament-
- pre-game entertainment Brisbane Broncos Vs St George Dragons NRL
- hobby horse wrangler
2006 Abbey Medieval Tournament Magazine Photo Shoot- supplied costumes
2006 Picnic at Pemberley, Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology.
2005 Abbey Tournament Seamstress Workshop display
2005 Brisbane Medieval Fayre Seamstress Display Sable Rose
2005 Small Museum's Conference MC for banquet
2005 Abbey Tournament Promotion in Caboolture square- 14th C seamstress
2004 Saga Althing with Staraya Ladoga Vikings
2004 Brisbane Medieval Fayre with 15th Century Sable Rose
2004 Bli Bli Castle Static Displays
2004 Bli Bli Castle Medieval Fayre with Guild of the Lily
2004 Abbey Tournament Medieval Home Corner- costumes and children's
home corner supplied and run
2004 GotL/Abbey Tournement- Pre Tournament Newspaper photo and article
2004 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, with Staraya Ladoga
2003 Visit to overseas medieval group in Winipeg, Canada
2003 Abbey Medieval Tournament with Guild of the Lily
2003 Talk at Lioness's Club Sunshine Coast
2003 Currimundi Primary School- "Medieval Clothing & Life"
Talks and Classroom displays
2002 Guild of the Lily Medieval Group formed
2002 Website launched