Display of Jane Austen costumes at Peckover House in Wisbech

AN exhibition of costumes worn in film and television adaptations of Jane Austen’s books, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, has already brought many visitors to Peckover House in Wisbech.

The costumes have been displayed on dummies in a number of the rooms of the beautiful merchant town house, which were lived in by the Peckover family for 150 years.

Among the intricate and beautifully crafted costumes are the wedding outfit worn by Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and one of Emma Thompson’s dresses when she played her sister Elinor.

The blue spencer dress sported by Elizabeth Bennett, played by Jennifer Ehle, in the television series of Pride and Prejudice is also among the treasures.

House manager Ben Rickett said that although there were parallels between Austen and the Peckover women – they were all “headstrong” and “feisty” women – some of the frivolity and lavishness of the books would not have reflected the life of the Peckovers who were a Quaker family.

Mr Rickett said: “The Peckover women were quite revolutionary and Jane Austen is quite feisty. Alexandrina and the other Peckover women liked mountaineering and skiing and they gave a lot of money to the town.”

The exhibition was conceived and put together by staff and volunteers at the house and the costumes are on loan from London-based prop company Cosprop.

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Teresa Squires, property manager, said: “When you see these costumes in a setting like Peckover they somehow make perfect sense. The colours and textures come alive and the size of the rooms in this family home mean people can have a really intimate experience of these costumes, almost seeing them as the people they were designed for.”

The exhibition is open until Tuesday (August 31). For more information call 01945 583463 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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