Let me start by saying I love visiting Bletchley Park. Few single sites could claim to be more important to Allied victory in World War II than the codebreaking centre on an obscure East Midlands countryside estate. Astonishingly, the site only narrowly avoided demolition in favour of housing development and a supermarket in the late 80s, but thanks to the efforts of a campaign to save Bletchley, the local council were persuaded of its historic value. The dereliction of some of the buildings around the periphery of the main site is quite stark, and a reminder that the work that went on here was so top secret that it was almost forgotten.
Bletchley Park now is an incredible immersive museum, which effectively tells the stories of the codebreakers. You can walk through the iconic ‘huts’ and experience first-hand the dimly-lit, stuffy interiors where some of the brightest (and most eccentric) minds of the day puzzled and calculated and analysed and innovated their way to some of the greatest breakthroughs of the Second World War. Sound and set-dressing help recreate the atmosphere as it would have been in the 1940s; filing down the narrow corridors of Alan Turing’s Hut 8 you overhear snatches of conversation over the mechanical chattering of typewriters.
The 1940s events at Bletchley take the immersive experience up a notch, with re-enactors, vintage vehicles and live music throughout the day.
Naturally I wanted something a bit special for the event. I decided to go with a coral and chartreuse colour scheme - I adore a pop of chartreuse as an accent colour and I’m working on incorporating more of it into my wardrobe. To that end, I made the hat myself out of a ‘straw’ placemat, and I was also lucky enough to score a pair of original vintage (circa 1960s) unworn Dent’s gloves (they still had the stitch holding them together, with their original label) in a perfect colour-match chartreuse.
I made the dress from a 1940s pattern reproduced by The Vintage Pattern Store, in rayon crepe-de-chine and rayon challis from Misan West. The crochet purse is hand made to an original 1940s pattern by Crochet by Q, with original vintage lucite handles I scored on US eBay.
To construct the hat out of a placemat, I unpicked the stitching to pop out the centre, then made a crown out of buckram, which I covered with a ruched length of matching viscose jersey fabric. I also added a head band in the same jersey fabric, to hold the hat in place. The bird is a vintage Christmas dove made out of spun cotton and real feathers, which I coloured with silk paint (I also added more feathers to make the wings and tail a bit fuller). Rather than gluing the bird in place, it’s actually held with two pins pushed through the hat brim, so it’s removable if I decide to change up the hat decoration.