Theatre costume

1893 (made)


[chasuble] Length: 126 cm back of neck to hem, Width: 152 cm Total width [tunic] Length: 149 cm from back of neck to hem, Width: 45 cm across shoulders, Width: 53.5 cm Across chest [collar] Circumference: 79.5 cm Around lower edge, Width: 63 cm Measured flat, edge to edge [maniple] Length: 53 cm folded length (fold to base of fringe), Width: 12 cm Widest point [dalmatic] Length: 133 cm From back of neck to bottom of fringe, Length: 21 cm Length of false stole ends, Width: 35 cm Across shoulders, Width: 54 cm Across chest [tunic] Length: 149 cm From back of neck to base of hem, Diameter: 139 cm Of hem, Width: 35 cm Across shoulders [slipper] Length: 30 cm Sole, Height: 1.5 cm Heel, Height: 8.5 cm From base of sole to highest point [slipper] Length: 30 cm Sole, Height: 1.5 cm Heel, Height: 8 cm From sole to highest point [bracelet] Length: 26 cm, Width: 6.75 cm [boot] Length: 28 cm at longest point, Width: 7.5 cm at widest point [boot] Length: 27 cm at longest point, Width: 7.5 cm at widest point [collar] Circumference: 78 cm Bottom edge, Width: 68.5 cm Widest point when measured flat, Length: 27.5 cm Ribbons

S.2753:1 to 12-2010 T&P

Group of theatrical vestments; chasuble, long tunic, collar/amice, maniple, dalmatic, tunic, bracelet, pair of boots, pair of slippers and second collar, worn by Henry Irving as Becket, in Tennyson's 'Becket', 1893.

[chasuble] Chasuble, yellow silk damask, woven with stylised roundels. The surface ornamented with orphreys of gold braid and glass jewels and appliqued with a triangle of deep red damask at the front and back neck. It fastens along left shoulder and all down left side with a row of 9 buttons and matching buttonholes, the top button covered in gold braid, the remaining 8 covered in yellow silk damask. Hanging loop at neck. Lined with gold coloured ribbed silk. [tunic] Long tunic of beige cotton sateen, with skirt and sleeves of military twill wool to simulate an alb. Panels of yellow silk brocade appliqued at side vents to suggest a tunicle when seen through the side-slits of the dalmatic (S.2753:5-2010), and with rectangular 'apparels' of green, red and silver brocade, jewelled at front and rear hem as seen on the 'amice' (S.2753:3-2010). Button to below waist with 8 buttons at centre front. All buttons stamped 'Best Ring Edge'. [collar] Amice or collar of brocade (matching tunic S.2753:2-2010) simulating the 'apparel' of an amice worn about the neck. The brocade has a bold floral in greens, pinks and greys, possibly inspired by similar 'Arts and Crafts' motifs. The surface of the amice is decorated with glass jewels. Fastens at the front neck with two hooks and two sewn loops. Lined in gold twilled silk. Back of the neck has been 'caught down', seemingly to make the collar more comfortable to wear. [maniple] Maniple of yellow diapered silk, with silk fringe and embroidery of gold scroll-work and red glass jewels. It consists of one long length of fabric which has been folded over and stitched to go over the arm. [dalmatic] Dalmatic, dull straw coloured silk woven with a darker pattern in the weft. Appliqued with vertical bands of red velvet decorated with clusters of gold coloured metal paillette and glass jewels. The hem decorated with a gold fringe and border of gold braid interspersed with glass jewels. Partly split up the sides (to just above knee levels) and with two fringed tabs attached to the lower hem to sugggest a stole worn beneath it. Lined in gold ribbed silk. Opens to just above waist at back closing with 5 small gilt buttons decorated with stars (in a concealed fastening). Also appliqued with two further bands of red velvet (as at front). [tunic] Sleeveless tunic, purple cotton/wool blend with narrow border of deep plum and gold brocade at hem, and broad band of yellow damask above it, edged with metallic gold fringe and decorated with gold sequins and glass jewels in front only. Gathered in the front with slight trained at rear. Opening at back to fastening with a 5 buttons and a hook and eye at the neck. [slipper] Crimson velvet slipper. Embroidered details in couched in gold and infilled with yellow french knots. Slight heel at rear, covered in same crimson velvet as upper. Sole has been scored to add grip. [slipper] Shoe/ankle boot of soft grey leather with scrolls and fleurs-de-lis of gold braid. Pull on style design with elasticated section at centre front. Very slight heel, covered in the same soft leather material as the upper. [bracelet] Wide bracelet, set with red glass jewels in gold metal. It is made up from two separate bands of metal stitched onto a ribbed red silk backing. Fastens with two large hooks (one missing and replaced with dress hook) the loops into which they were 'hooked' have since disappeared. [boot] Blue velvet ankle boot, latticed applique in gold cord, and quatrefoils in pink velvet. Long ties of blue cotton and gold braid. (left) [boot] Blue velvet ankle boot, latticed applique in gold cord, and quatrefoils in pink velvet. Long ties of blue cotton and gold braid. (right) [collar] Collar, brocaded gold fabric hand-painted with an ecclesiastical design of crosses in roundels in red, green, white and black. Fastens with two ribbons woven with a design of crosses. Lined with gold ribbed silk.

This costume was worn by Henry Irving (1838-1905) in 1893, in the title role of Becket by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892). The events of the play focus on the historical figure of Thomas Becket (1118-1170) during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended with his murder. The success of Irving's production led him to keep it in his repertory of plays, and it was the last role he performed before his death. His last words on stage were those of the dying Becket, saying "Into thy hands, O Lord, into thy hands". Later that evening Irving collapsed and died in the entrance hall of the Midland Hotel in Bradford. Irving became a professional actor in 1856, and learned his trade in regional theatres until 1866, when he came to London. He joined the Lyceum Theatre company under the management of H. L. Bateman in 1871, winning great acclaim that year for his psychologically developed characterisation of the guilt-ridden inn-keeper Mathias in Leopold Lewis's melodrama The Bells. He took on the responsibilities of 'actor-manager' in 1878 when he assumed the management of the Lyceum, and remained there until 1902, enjoying star status with his leading lady Ellen Terry (1847-1928). Irving produced a diverse range of old and new plays at the Lyceum, including Shakespeare, historical drama, and literary adaptations. His tireless work to elevate the status of the theatrical profession was rewarded in 1895 when he became the first actor ever to receive a knighthood for services to the Theatre. Irving specialised in spectacularly staged productions with large casts of performers. He commissioned designers and composers to create appropriate scenery, costume and incidental music, played by a full orchestra. Although electric lighting was available from the 1880s, Irving preferred the softer effects of gas, with lime light to focus attention at key points in the play. Irving toured complete productions outside London, taking the full company, scenery and costumes throughout the United Kingdom and across the United States and Canada. The development of the railway system made his the first generation able to achieve this level of touring productions.

[maniple] Museum of London note: 'This has sometimes been incorrectly labelled 'collar'.' [tunic] Museum of London note: 'worn under the dalmatic and black cloak in the Northampton scenes.' [collar] Museum of London note: 'a second collar, similar to 56.4/40c [S.2753:3-2010] and possibly provided as an alternative but not used.'

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website