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About Me
ABOUT ME - 10 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - MY RE-ENACTMENT LIFE - MY MEDIEVAL BIO

About Me
As 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 people believe.

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 QUEENSLAND 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 patterns went.

Your dresses are not really all hand-stitched, are they?
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 I'm wearing!

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 question, never-the-less)
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.

My Re-enactment Life
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 learn.

My 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 for that.

The 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:

With 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.

Marldon’s 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
Seamstress Rose

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.


My Medieval Bio

2016 St Ives Medieval Faire, Sydney. Educational displays.
2016 Queensland Living History Federation Conference. Artifact Study presenter.
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 display.
- 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 Lion Rampant
2013 Abbey Medieval Festival with Knights Order of Lion Rampant
2013 History Alive- A Journey Through Time, with Knights Order of Lion Rampant
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- Medieval Storyteller
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 Lion Rampant
2012 Custom medieval wedding dress commission
2012 Medieval consultant for independant short film
2012 Picnic at Pemberley, Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology. Volunteer
2011 "Ask Milady" Medieval Q&A Pavillion at Abbey Medieval Tournament
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 Lion Rampant
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 council staff
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 Match
- hobby horse wrangler
2006 Abbey Medieval Tournament Magazine Photo Shoot- supplied costumes
2006 Picnic at Pemberley, Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology. Volunteer
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 display
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 Vikings
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

Copyright © Rosalie Gilbert
All text & photographs within this site are the property of Rosalie Gilbert unless stated.
Art & artifact images remain the property of the owner.
Images and text may not be copied and used without permission.