Posted in Decorative Arts, Exhibition, Fashion History, Film, History, Literature, Museum, Rural Heritage, Theatre History, TV Programme

Whitchurch Silk Mill Star of Stage & Screen

My previous article, on the history of Whitchurch Silk Mill, reflects only half the story of this incredible Mill.  The Mill has long been an important supplier of bespoke silk fabrics for film, television and theatre costumes.  Below is a selection of some of these productions together with details of fabric used and character who wore it.

Sara (Theatre Cheek by Jowl – 1990). Mellefont (Raad Rawl) and Marwood (Shelia Gish). Mellefont’s suit of silk and Marwood’s gown trimmed with silk ribbon.


Cats (Theatre Musical – 1989) – Rayon fringe.

Back to the Future III (Film – 1990). Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen). Clara wore a hat trimmed with silk ribbons woven at the Mill.

The Fool.

The Fool (TV Channel 4 – 1990). Lady Amelia (Maria Aitken). Lady Amelia wore a gown of multi-striped silk taffeta.

Scarlett (BSkyB TV – 1994). Scarlett O’Hara (Joanne Whalley). A gown made of honeybird and black striped silk taffeta.

Middlemarch (BBC TV – 1994). Dorothea (Juliet Aubrey). Dorothea wore a gown of silk cotton moiré. The production also featured a range of other silk fabrics in various colours.

Sense and Sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility (Film – 1995). Marianne Dashwood (Kate). Marianne wore a bonnet trimmed with silk ribbon.

Jefferson in Paris (Film – 1995) – Maria Cosway (Greta Scacchi) and Richard Cosway (Simon Callow). Maria’s gown had silk ribbons. A jacket worn by Richard was made of silk moiré.

The Portrait of a Lady (Film – 1996). Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman). Isabel wore a silk cotton moiré taffeta gown.


Titanic (Film – 1997). Ruth de Witt Bukater (Frances Fisher) and Molly Brown (Kathy Bates). Ruth wore a hat with silk satin striped ribbon. Molly wore a hat with a crown of steel-blue and saxe-blue silk taffeta.

The Scarlet Pimpernel.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (BBC TV – 1999) – Pimpernel’s wife (Elizabeth McGovern). A gown made of silk taffeta.


Aristocrats (BBC TV – 1999). Sarah (Jodhi May) and Louisa (Anne-Marie Duff). Sarah wore a gown of scarlet striped taffeta and a gown of steel-blue and saxe-blue pure silk taffeta. Louisa wore a gown of peach taffeta.

Madam Bovary (BBC TV – 2000). Emma Bovary (Frances O’Connor). Emma wore a gown of purple silk taffeta.

He Knew He Was Right.

He Knew He Was Right (BBC TV – 2004). Nora Rowley (Christina Cole) and Emily Rowley (Laura Fraser). Nora wore a gown of raspberry silk cotton moiré. Emily wore a gown trimmed with silk ribbons around the waist.

Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins (Theatre – 2004). Jane (Faye Spittlehouse). Jane wore a gown of champagne silk and raspberry cotton moiré taffeta.

North and South.

North and South (BBC TV – 2004). Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe). Margaret wore a gown made of silk linen taffeta.

Bleak House.

Bleak House (BBC TV – 2005). Lady Deadlock (Gillian Anderson). Lady Deadlock wore a gown made from champagne silk and saxe-blue lined taffeta.

Pride and Prejudice (Film – 2005). Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Dame Judi Dench). Lady Catherine wore a gown of black silk and wine cotton moiré taffeta.


Cranford (BBC TV – 2007) – Lady Ludlow (Francesca Annis). A dress made from champagne silk and black cotton moiré taffeta. Dorcas (Julia Sawalha). Dorcas wore a two piece outfit in dark blue/green and a champagne and bleached linen taffeta blouse; a coffee striped silk ribbon trimmed hat which is petrol blue to match her jacket; dark blue and wine silk taffeta dress. Ruby Pratt (Victoria Hamilton) and Pearl Pratt (Matilda Ziegler). At a party in the Golden Lion they wore hats trimmed with black striped ribbons to match their bottle green and black dresses; Pearl also wore a pink and coffee ribbon at the neck of her brown and gold cloak; both wore pink wide satin striped champagne ribbons at the neck of their blouses which were burgundy with coffee coloured floral pattern. Margaret Ellison (Sandy McDade). Margaret wore a grey silk and linen dress while in her father’s office. Laura Timmins (Olivia Hallinan). Laura wore a steel-blue skirt as she walks through a field with her young man.

Becoming Jane (Film – 2007) – Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway). Jane wore a dress decorated at the waist with chocolate and blue silk ribbon.

Gaslight (Theatre The Old Vic – 2007). Bella Manningham (Rosamund Pike). A gown of steel-blue and lilac cotton moiré silk.

The Shadow in The North (BBC TV – 2007). Sally Lockhart (Billie Piper). Sally wore a jacket made from black silk/linen and a bonnet trimmed with black silk taffeta and satin striped ribbons.

Miss Potter.

Miss Potter (BBC Film – 2007). Mrs Potter  (Barbara Flynn). Mrs Potter wore a gown of silk cotton moiré.

Fanny Hill (BBC TV – 2007). Mr H (Hugo Speer). Mr H wore a coat made from champagne silk and gold cotton moiré.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles (BBC TV – 2008). Tess (Gemma Aterton). Tess wore a straw boater trimmed with champagne satin striped woven ribbon.

Garrow’s Law (BBC TV – 2009). Lady Sarah Hill (Lyndsey Marshal). Lady Sarah wore a gown of silk fabric.

Other high-profile productions featuring silk fabrics woven at Whitchurch Mill include: The Piano (Film – 1993); The Madness of King George (Film – 1994) and The Ruby in the Smoke (BBC TV – 2006). In the Café there is a large display of production stills featuring some of the costumes mentioned above.

For more information on Whitchurch Silk Mill, including visitor information, please CLICK HERE.

Cafe at Whitchurch Silk Mill which displays production stills of costumes made from Whitchurch fabrics.

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