Queen’s bridesmaid ‘overwhelmed’ at reunion with restored coronation dress

One of the bridesmaids at the Queen’s coronation was stunned after being reunited with her dress, which “seemed to fall apart in someone’s hands” before her restoration.

The silk dress worn by Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill on June 2, 1953, suffered extreme exposure to sunlight after years of exposure, causing the material to “tear and break”.

Designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, who had a royal mandate as the Queen Mother’s tailor, the garment remains part of British history.

Emma Telford spent 400 hours painstakingly repairing a delicate silk dress (Quest / PA)

Textile conservator Emma Telford spent 400 hours making invisible fabric repairs to fix a delicate and irreplaceable dress, in scenes shot for the new Nick Knowles series: Heritage Rescue.

After last wearing an invaluable dress in 1953, Lady Rosemary said: “I think it’s amazing. When I first saw her, after she was damaged, I thought there was no hope for this.

“It seemed to fall apart in someone’s hands, and I’m just thrilled with what’s been done. I think he will go to the exhibition and I hope he will take good care of it. ”

Lady Rosemary said looking at the dress brought back memories, recalling her commitments that day.

She said: “The Duke of Norfolk trained us so well. We had so many rehearsals that we never thought anything would go wrong, but it didn’t. “

A footman lifts the Queen’s train as she leaves Buckingham Palace to enter the state chariot after her coronation (PA)

(PA Archive)

Asked if the queen was nervous on the day of the coronation, Lady Rosemary said: “She certainly did not show it.

“When we left, the six of us, she turned around and just said ‘Ready, girls,’ and we left – she was wonderfully relaxed.”

Ms Telford said: “I felt very nervous and quite anxious about today, a few weeks. I wonder if he will really be ready in time. It was wonderful to see that reaction. ”

The dress suffered significant damage around the lower part and the material began to tear, although the front part of the dress remained in good condition and the beads survived almost completely intact.

Ms. Telford used a backing fabric with glue to bond the fragile silk of the dress and stabilize the damage.

Textile Conservator Emma Telford with Dress (Quest / PA)

She said: “There really is no option with an item that is in such a state.

“Adhesive backing is indeed the last resort for textile conservators, but this is largely the last resort for this subject because it is indeed in such poor condition.”

– Nick Knowles: Heritage Rescue airs on June 7 at 9pm on Quest.

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