Northern Society of Costume and Textiles

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Our Next Meeting

Saturday 13th April 2024
Friargate Quaker Meeting House
Friargate, York, YO1 9RL

Join us for an exciting day of knights and courtiers, armour and royal dress with medievalist Dr Gillian Waters.



Medieval and Tudor knights always liked to look their best, whether fighting on the battlefield or displaying their prowess in tournaments, and they kept up with the latest fashions in arms and armour. The morning’s session considers the practicalities of mail shirts, how hemlines went down and up in the 11th to 15th Centuries, ‘designer label’ Tudor armour, and what knights wore
underneath! How did a knight put his armour on, and did he wear socks?



In the afternoon, Gillian will explore Elizabethan costume. In 1558 a young woman was crowned Queen and, despite the attempts of her courtiers, ruled England alone and unmarried for 45 years. Elizabeth’s wardrobe and costumes played a key role in emphasising her status as a female monarch, and helped her control her male courtiers. This session uses contemporary portraits of
Elizabeth to investigate the development of her image, and the changing styles and symbolism of her costumes. How did the new Queen Elizabeth demonstrate her majesty and sovereignty, and why was she later represented as an empress and goddess?


Gillian Waters trained as a Medievalist and has taught history for over 25 years. She has worked in the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, The Mansion House in York, the Council for British Archaeology, and many other local Yorkshire museums and archives on a consultancy basis, creating resources, developing courses and organising activities for learners of all ages. Gillian currently teaches History and Heritage courses at the University of York’s Centre for Lifelong Learning and also works with Washburn Heritage Centre and Museum Development North.



10:30am coffee
11:00am Did Knights Wear Socks?
12:30pm lunch
1:40pm Reconvene
2:00pm Elizabeth I’s Costume and Courtiers
3:30pm End


The cost of the meeting is £15 for members, £20 for non-members, and £5 for students.


There are two options for booking, visit Eventbrite or send an email to requesting a Booking Form



The meeting will be held at the Friargate Quaker Meeting House, Friargate, York, YO1 9RL. The Meeting House has ramped access from Friargate, and a small space immediately outside to enable drop off and pickup by car. The closest car park is Clifford’s Tower, where there are a small number of Blue Badge parking spaces. Please see the Meeting House website for more information about accessibility:

Parking in York is not easy. We recommend using the Park and Ride schemes. The bus from The Designer Outlet on the A19 stops within a few yards of our venue (
The Bus fromAskam Bar stops at Clifford’s Tower a short walk from the venue.
Of course there is also a good train service to York.


As with recent meetings at this venue, we will not be providing lunch. There are plenty of eateries close by.
Alternatively, you’re welcome to bring your own packed lunch. Hot drinks can be obtained at the venue.




The Society was founded in 1977.

We are a well established Society operating in the North of England.  We have an enthusiastic interest in all things costume and textiles, with a bias towards the historical.

We organise a programme of quarterly meetings with lectures by guest speakers covering a wide range of subjects or we visit private and public collections.

Members come from all walks of life, some with considerable knowledge of the subject, but many who are just enthusiasts keen to find ot more or to share there enthusiasm with others.  We are af riendly society welcoming new members and guests to join us.

If you are interested in any aspect of costume or textiles, particurly their history, perhaps the Society is for you.

We also produce small range of patterns based on actual historical garments which can be purchased on-line.

Japanese Kimono

Abby Perry wearing her own Katherine Parr dress