Just a quick one. I mentioned before that a peer must hire robes for State Opening. Until yesterday Ede and Ravenscroft had run out and I was stranded. But yippee, yesterday they had a cancellation so I will go the party after all! It’ll cost me £124 in case you wondered…..
I suppose I’d never thought about it but are the robe lengths fixed or do you have to borrow/hire appropriate for your height?
“Just a quick one.” As the actress said to the Bishop? Party on!
Croft, when one orders robes you give them your height and I assume they try to match a gown to one’s size but as I am getting a set of randomly allocated ones I rather think they could be any size. Mis-sizing has happened to me before with academic robes; I found myself in danger of being drowned in one set, trailing them along the ground in procession with the serious danger of being tripped up from behind, which would no doubt have been entertaining for the students.
Presumably Ede and Ravenscroft have enough in stock for the number of peers who can attend the State Opening? Surely no-one else would need a peer’s robe, or can members of the public hire them for fancy dress?
High Ways of Robery: Acrostic Verse
How dear it does appear to appear a peer./
I presume it would seem queer to disappear,/
“George, is Baroness Murphy not yet here?”/
“Her ladyship found no kit or gear we hear.”/
Worthies waiting for worthy wear wearies./
And every chevron must match the ranks/
Yet a baroness may fear college dearies./
Students tripping lords as evil pranks./
Only few match the lined cap of maintenance/
Fur is humble rabbit in stoat’s appearance./
Rarely our health scholarly Baroness wears/
Our race’s white and spotted skins about./
Because too few serfs, traps and affairs/
England has given her to remove doubt./
Ravenscroft and Ede must live as well./
Yes, the Opening by robes all can tell./
I did have visions of the shorter baronesses disappearing under their robes 🙂
Jonathan: I would assume that prior to ’99 a significant number of those attending the state opening would have been hereditary peers and many well have owned their own robes. So the number E&R might have needed to provide would perhaps have been a smaller number. Now you have mostly LPs who won’t have their own robes (with a few exceptions). I don’t know if E&R or the Lords (which owns some sets of robes) increased their ‘stock’ to counter this change. The robes are presumable pretty expensive to make.
Croft: Many hereditary peers did indeed have their own robes. When they ceased to be members, some decided to sell them to other peers. This was done via Ede and Ravenscroft. That is how I acquired my robes. The cost was certainly reasonable relative to the cost of new robes – which is about £8,000: this could explain why so many peers enter the ballot for robes or hire them.
I presume most peers leave them with E&R as it would be expensive to leave your robes in the wardrobe for 11 months and find they had been eaten by moths!
I seem to remember seeing a picture in the paper of one former opposition MP and peer who had bought/had made a privy council uniform as well – which on the cost of robes must have been very expensive!
£8000 Lord Norton? Good Lord, makes the hire cost seem cheap. No Jonathan, E&R only have a modest number of robes, slightly less than seats available. I don’t know if they hire them out for fancy dress parties, I suspect not. One would need to go to Angel and Bearmans for that. This is clearly a serious argument in favour of retaining hereditary peers in the house; cuts down the demand/competition amongst the LPs. Frank W Summers lll, your verse much appreciated. I’ll give you my impressions after the event.
Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to reading your impressions.
I think you should turn this into a pantomime – and if you do impressions as well… Well, your Christmas party entertainment is sorted.
Does anyone know anything about where the rabit and miniver (stoat)fur used on robes comes from? I am aware that fur farming for its own sake is illegal in the UK, and that conditions on farms abroad are frequently abysmal. Are these issues ever discussed by wearers of such robes? Thanks