The Waverley Inn, Halifax, Nova Scotia

SLR_8460-003While attending the Festival of Tall Ships, Man The Capstan, had the opportunity to stay at The Waverley Inn in Halifax. This Inn is tucked away at 1266 Barrington Street, and is a reasonable walk to the waterfront. There are many other Hotels and Inns in this downtown core, but none offers quite the same experience and ambiance of this unique three story bed and breakfast.

waverly1-001Once an elite Victorian private residence, the Waverley Inn is definitely pretty special, especially if you’re like me and prefer smaller and more intimate places to stay, and particularly if they are historical houses.

Lobby-I-001This house was built in 1865-66 by a wealthy merchant named Edward W. Chipman and his wife Mahala Jane Northup. Interestingly both these last names are listed in the family trees of certain Man The Capstan Crew members. Could there be a family relationship there? Perhaps!

The Chipman home was purported to be one of the most expensive and extravagant homes in the city of Halifax. Mrs. Chipman was a very fashionable lady, who was well known in Halifax society and she immediately began to host many dances and social events. These were attended by not only the local society, but also by the officers who were stationed at the Garrison. Hence, it seemed just the place for a group of Royal Navy Re-enactors like us, to spend a night or two.Roman-Sisters-II-001

Unfortunately, Mr. Chipman’s dry goods business failed and in just a short while (1870), the family could no longer afford this home. It must have been heartbreaking to see their lovely home turned over to the Sherriff of Halifax. Much of the furnishings were seized, and the house was sold at auction where it was bought by a real estate speculator named Patrick Costin.SLR_8285-001

He sold the house to two spinsters named Sarah and Jane Romans, who had been operating their father’s business, The Waverley Hotel. They added a new wing to the rear of the house and in October of 1876 they moved into their new location. Since then the Waverley has functioned as an Inn, owned by a variety of different owners. In 1960 the Sterling Hotel Company purchased it and did extensive restorations.

SLR_8270-001Today this house still operates as a lovely historical Inn, and Man The Capstan certainly enjoyed their stay there. We stayed in the Vanderbilt room, and the twin room right across from it, and were indeed very comfortable. The house is filled with antiques and period furniture, and beautifully decorated with the opulence of the Victorian period.  The breakfast room downstairs offers a healthful and generous breakfast with lots of variety. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the rooms are beautiful and very clean. I would definitely stay there again, and would recommend it as a place to stay if ever you are visiting Halifax , Nova Scotia.

Don’t for get to click on the pictures to get their full size and effect!waverly4-001

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A Victorian Christmas at the O’Dell House Museum

SLR_2_5614-003The O’Dell House Museum is situated at 136 – George Street, in the beautiful and historic town of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. This very interesting Victorian house Museum, circa 1869, is now owned and operated by the Annapolis Heritage Society. Graced with beautiful period furnishings, art, photographs, and history, as well as a Genealogy Centre and Archives, this is a pretty special place.4460170492_4bb3e7fd52_z-001

Each year, “A Victorian Christmas” is hosted here, an event that is held over a period of two weekends in late November and/or early December. Two Christmases ago, Man The Capstan decided to attend. (yes I know this blog was a long time in coming, but better late then never), and did we ever enjoy it! For this outing, we donned…what else…but our Victorian bustle gowns! Our Royal Navy Captain and Marine Major, altered slightly, the way they wore their uniforms. The beauty of them is that they can be worn in several differing ways, which really helps when using them for different time periods.

SLR_2_5637-001The ambience, warmth, and beautiful period Christmas decor of the O’ Dell house, make this event well worth attending. The heritage society does a wonderful job of it, spending days collecting Christmas greenery from the surrounding woods, and then countless hours more in decorating the house with these natural treasures.

photo_1272856_resize-001Boughs, wreaths and bouquets of evergreen, holly, boxwood, moss and pine cones fill the house, adorning each doorway, staircase and mantle. Delightful touches such fruit pyramids on the dining table and sideboard, and dried floral bouquets brighten each corner of the house. An old fashioned Christmas tree with homemade and antique ornaments graces the lovely parlour. The golden flicker of candlelight, the fragrance of evergreen, and scents of baking and apple cider assail your senses as you enter. There is much laughter and conversation, and singing of the  traditional carols. You really feel as though you have stepped back in time! What a treat! The crew of Man The Capstan truly appreciated the efforts made and were definitely in our element.SLR_2_5624-001

Once a thriving Tavern and Inn, the O’Dell House was owned and built by Corey O’Dell in the 1860s. Corey who was born in St. John, New Brunswick on June 27, 1827, arrived in Nova Scotia in about 1849. He was a Pony Express Driver for the Kentville-Victoria Beach part of the Halifax-Victoria Beach run. This service was short lived and he returned to New Brunswick the following year.

He came back to Nova Scotia in the late 1850s with his wife and family to live in Annapolis Royal. There he purchased the property where the O’Dell house now stands. The house has fourteen rooms, including the tavern, which later became a grocery store, six bedrooms, dining room, front parlour and kitchen. It is situated near the waterfront, a short distance from the wharves in an ideal location for trade. Corey died March 14, 1887, a wealthy man.

SLR_2_5650-001The O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre are open year round.

The open hours for the O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre are:

Summer (from late May to early September):
Every day – 9 am to 5 pm
Winter:
Monday to Saturday – 1 pm to 4 pm
(weather permitting; a call ahead is advised). Closed Sundays.

Admission for the O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre is by donation; the suggested amount is $3.00.

Details! Details!

How can you level your costume up from alright to amazing? The answer is in the details.

Patterns! There are a lot of pretty good costume patterns out there, made by the more common pattern companies like Butterick, Simplicity and McCalls and for a very reasonable price anyone can get one. There are also those less well know companies such as Sense & Sensibility, Past Patterns, Kannik’s Korner and J.P Ryan, who produce some really great historical reproduction patterns. Some are quite complicated and some not. Some offer reproduction garments and some are just for fun costuming and still others are a combination of both.

The historical reproduction patterns often require a fair bit of hand sewing, but much of the sewing can also be done by machine. I tend to do both and use a serger or just a regular sewing machine for many of the long seams. I do, however, try my best to hand sew visible stitching and I almost always apply trims and things by hand. Doing this creates a much more authentic looking piece of historical apparel and I like that. Whether or not a person does this is completely a personal choice. The choice might be made, keeping in mind what the garment is to be used for. If this is a gown for a Halloween party or a masquerade ball, you could simply sew the entire thing by machine. If you will be using it as a historical re-enactment piece or for a historical ball however, I would suggest doing at least some of the sewing by hand. It’s a great opportunity to learn some of the tricks and stitches used by the seamstresses and tailors of old.

Fabrics! An important thing to do, if you wish to create more realistic apparel, is to do some research. What kinds of fabrics did they have available to them, what was popular with the different classes and so on. If you are wanting to reproduce something from a certain time period and class, there is no point in using an expensive silk fabric to sew a dress for the serving or working class who wore mostly cottons and wools. Unless of course it is just for a fun costume and then anything goes. Serving wenches can then wear satin and lace! If you wish to create something a little more authentic however, and come up with reasonable facsimiles of time period clothing, find out what was worn in what era and do some detailed research about that before you start to sew or buy materials. People in history did not have access to synthetic fibres, true fabrics like silk, cotton, linen, muslin and wool were used.

Closures! Other details that are of great importance are such things as closures. There is nothing so unauthentic as a zipper in a gown or a pair of breeches that hail from the 17 or 1800s! Modern-day zippers weren’t invented until the early 1900s and the forerunners of it not until the late 1800s. Typically they were not very popular because they were far to complicated to use until 1913.  Most clothing was closed by laces, buttons and clasps and the latter two were used later and then often only by the more wealthy, who could afford such luxuries as buttons.

Trims and things! Men and women have always loved to trim and decorate their clothing! However, this was also something that was not commonly done by the working class. Perhaps they might have a small tidbit of lace or such that they could wear with their Sunday best if they even had such a thing. Lace was most often hand-made and  this took time to do, time unfortunately was not a commodity that most lower classed women had a lot of. Upper classed women however did, and they commonly wore lace and trims on their clothing. They also wore ribbons, braid and buttons. Your challenge will be to find examples that look like they were hand-made or see if you can make or acquire it. I favour venetian, battenburg or crocheted type laces because they generally have a more antique or handmade appearance. Embroidered ribbons and silk braids also make nice additions.

Accessories or Accoutrements! Paramount to creating an authentic look are the accessories that you will choose to wear with your ensemble. Depending on their status or station in life, (ie, an officer, a merchant, a gentleman or perhaps a farmer), men wore wigs, silk or linen cravats, gloves, leather boots or hessians, jewelery, such as pocket watches and tie pins, plus a variety of hats and other head gear. I am speaking here primarily about the 18th and the 19th centuries. Prior to that they might also have worn pendants, gold and silver chains and jewels, again depending on their place in the classes. Even weapons such as pistols, swords, daggers or armour on a knight might be considered an accessory that you might or might not wish to invest in. A warning here however, in order to be realistic they must be decent quality reproductions, and this can demand a fairly large drain on your pocket book.

Likewise, lady’s accessories would have consisted of underpinnings such as corsets, stays, hoops, panniers and bloomers. Depending upon the time period they might have worn leather slippers or boots, gloves, carried a reticule and a parasol, worn a hat and a variety of jewelery. Beaded necklaces, brooches and bracelets with pearls, coral, shell and other semi precious stones were popular. Jewels set in gold and silver, also lockets, chains and cameos. Metals such as brass and copper were worn. They did not have access to costume jewelery until much later.  Women also sometimes carried a weapon, such as a dagger or a small pistol. The key here is to see what will fit into your budget and to once again do the research and find out what was worn in what time period. Adding Victorian accessories to a Georgian era costume will not do!

Hair! One other thing well worth mentioning are hairstyles. Hairstyles then as now, were and still are very important to affecting a certain look.  If you wish to portray a person of the upper classes in say the 1700s, you might want to wear a powdered wig. A gentlemen during a certain chosen time period or station, might have worn his hair long or short, with or without a beard, sideburns or mutton chops. It may not be possible to wear your hair long but for most men it will only take a few weeks to grow some strategic facial hair. A woman might want to purchase a hair piece or practice doing and decorating her hair in some of the styles of the period she wishes to emulate. Again a little research goes a long way.

The most important thing to remember of course, whether you are costuming to re-enact, or simply to attend a Halloween party, is certainly to have some fun with it. Almost everyone loves a great costume or reproduction piece, and whether you favour one or the other, the secret to success is in the details!

Costume Update; Regency Gown #2

Regency # 2 a

Well, I’m finally done the second Regency gown and what a lovely thing it is!  It is made once again in the simple styling of the drawstring gown of the early 1800’s but with a few extravagances.

Regency gown # 2 - bI decided to do this one in an ivory silk like taffeta. The fabric has a lovely texture, just a little bit shiny and is liberally decorated with an embroidered leaves and vine pattern. I think it really has an authentic look about it.  I decorated this dress with some lovely ivory venetian style lace which I added to the sleeves and around the skirt of the gown and accented it with ivory satin rosebuds.  I made a wide belt with left over fabric and also decorated that with a length of the same lace.  There is a lace insert at the neckline of the gown and because it was improper for a lady to show her cleavage other than for evening, I also made a lace shawl collar to go with it and will wear long ivory opera length gloves to cover my arms.  This, I feel also nicely suits a middle aged lady like myself rather well. The great thing about it is that with the removal of the shawl feature the gown easily converts from a day dress to an evening gown with the right accessories.

Regency gown # 2 - cI was excited to purchase the most fabulous head gear from MsRegencys Bee In Your Bonnet at a super price. This lady creates the most delightful Regency bonnets and hats. You can visit her ebay store here if you are interested in having a look at her lovely and high quality products.  I added the ivory lace cap ruffle to the hat as most regency ladies would not have left home without this item; it was worn simply left on under the hat in much the way I am wearing it. To tie it in with my gown I added a large pearl hat pin and an ivory ostrich feather. Looks pretty snazzy I think!

For accessories, I already had my ivory parasol and fan both fully laced and decorated and I added an antique brass and carnelian cameo locket (complete with a minature of my seafaring Royal Marine husband inside), pearl earrings and a triple row of red coral beads around my neck. I also used a vintage shell cameo pin to secure the shawl.  I recently read that coral necklaces wereRegency gown # 2 - d very popular with the ladies of the regency period and since both my daughter and I each own coral necklaces I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to wear one of them. I also purchased a pair of cotton bloomers or pantaloons since my dress is quite see through and I’m wearing a nice pair of flat slipper shoes on my feet.

I really love this costume, it’s so very comfortable, easy to move in, exceptionally cool to wear and looks really lovely! Bless me, what more could a girl ask for, besides a hot cup of tea that is…?

Well…that’s about it really, I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of my story.  Now all I have to do is finish the lace on the Naval Officer’s uniforms and we’re all set for The Tall ships Festival, which by the by, is just a few scant weeks away.

Pressed into Service: Impressment in the Royal Navy

impressment_by_royal_navy

I have for some time had an avid interest in impressment. The reason for that, primarily came about during the many years  I spent researching family history. I have on a number of occasions come across stories of exactly such a nature concerning men in our own family tree and will relate just such tale as it’s told in the annals of our family.

“In about the year 1810 John McNeil Stewart, second generation Scotsman living in Ballycastle, Ireland, was pressed into service on His Majesty’s Ship, “The Observer”. After serving for some time on this ship, John Stewart eventually reached Pictou Harbour in Nova Scotia. In that harbour one day he and several of his fellow recruits jumped overboard and upon being pursued, John Stewart at last made his way to safety. Once upon shore, a fellow Scotsman named Cameron covered him with a long cloak and concealed him in his home until his pursuers returned to their ship.” When it was safe to do so, John Stewart made his way into inland Nova Scotia where he married, raised a family and lived until his death sometime later. He is an ancestor to some members of our crew.

Pictou Harbour Many were sympathetic to the deserters who had been forcibly impressed and certainly it did not go unchallenged. Maritimers and particularly Nova Scotians very often made their livelihoods upon the seas as privateers, merchantmen and fishermen, making them even more vulnerable to being taken by the Royal Navy. This resulted in many formal petitions coming from the citizens of Nova Scotia to stop the practice.

The Royal Navy always had problems recruiting enough men to man their ships and this was particularly true in times of war. It was therefore a common event for British subjects of the male persuasion to be impressed into service aboard Royal Navy ships of war. The first act legalizing this practice was passed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1563.

Elizabeth IAt the time, it was then known as “an act touching politick considerations for the maintenance of the Navy”. Although Britain ended the practice of impressing men in 1814 after the Napoleonic Wars, the last law reaffirming impressment was passed in 1835 and it was indeed legal to do so until the early 1900s.

This act gave parishes authority to apprentice boys to the sea. Often a man who was in debt for under 20 pounds would be given a choice to join the navy or go to debtors prison. Other petty criminals were also given this option. As you can imagine many chose to go to sea rather then subject themselves to the harsh conditions of prison, or even death, for what we might consider rather trivial offenses. For many of them, service in the Navy offered a far better way of life then what their previous existence had. As often as not they did not have experience at sea, and as a rule it was much preferred to take fishermen or other seamen who did. Sea-faring men were most often pressed into service by the press gangs.

Pressed into ServicePress gangs were either men sent ashore to take men at club point from the villages and force them to return to the ships, where they were forced into service, or they were hired men from the villages, who would be paid for each man they brought back to the ships. Being a member of a press gang was one way to avoid being pressed into service yourself. According to one article, during the Napoleonic Wars, 3000 men worked as members of press gangs who most often targeted men with the least social power, such as the poor, criminals, and private seaman or fishermen. I cannot imagine how the wives or children of these men must have felt watching their husbands and fathers being forcibly led away to the ships waiting in the harbour. The crews of merchantmen or privateers rescued at sea by the Royal Navy, were also often written into a ships books.

Impressment was a legal practice which was based upon the King’s power and right to call men to military service. There were however rules to be followed, many of which were ignored more often than not. For example, a man could not be forced to serve for longer than a period of five years, and could not be impressed more often than once.  Impressment was limited to men aged between eighteen and forty-five (although I have found variances in that age limit to fifty-five and beyond.  Foreigners could not be taken unless married to a Brit, or they had to have worked aboard a British merchant ship for at least two years.

The Press GangThe men were paid a small salary, given a pension and a share of the captured prize money, which most often was not paid until the end of a man’s service, or at the conclusion of war. This had the effect of course, of diminishing the rate of desertion. The longer a man served, the greater was the monetary interest vested, encouraging many to stay to the end. That doesn’t mean of course that many did not try to desert, and escape they did, in droves. Some say that Britain lost as many men as what were gained. A goodly portion of these men however, settled and even thrived in the way of life that was the Royal Navy. They served out their time, resigned to their fate and the British tradition of impressment.

Certainly, by our modern democratic standards of today, the act of pressing men into service, against their will, seems totaltarian and brutish; however, it is worth pointing out that such customs are not entirely alien to Western society. Consider, for a moment, the Vietnam War and both World Wars of the 20th century, where conscription was avidly pursued. In the Napoleonic Wars, as well, one might wonder whether the face of Europe would look different today, were the men of Great Britain not compelled to serve aboard His Majesty’s ships of war, and the tryant Bonaparte allowed to roam the seas, unchecked and unchallenged. As a woman of Dutch heritage, whose country was during that time period, firmly held under the heel of his tyranny, this is indeed food for thought.

Behind the Uniform, Addendum

Behind the Uniform, AddendumFirst off, I just want to quickly add that Shara is home from the hospital. Mom, dad and son are all healthy and happy (though certainly tired). Johanna is there right now, rendering some assistance, but all is well and we’re very excited!

It has been some time since we’ve updated everyone on the status of the uniforms, in classic Behind the Uniform fashion. I had intended on finishing this “series” with Part III, but have since realized I have neglected a fair bit of information, specifically as it relates to the second Royal Navy uniform, and the Royal Marine’s uniform. This blog, then, is intended to bring these up to speed on that front, and to chronicle the key differences, inspirations and details behind these selected uniforms. If you haven’t read the first three parts, you can play some catch up here, here and here.

I’ll begin with the second Royal Navy uniform, as it deviates in style from the first iteration significantly. One might already notice in photos we’ve published that they do appear different—perhaps the easiest variation to pick out would be the style of pants. The first uniform uses dark navy pants, while the second makes use of white, knee-length breeches. You can see the difference quite clear in our first video blog. I’ll take a moment to reference back to Behind the Uniform, Part I:

So you can imagine the difficulty we had in deciding what type of uniform to create. They were all different! There wasn’t a step-by-step process we could take in developing something that demanded accuracy. To deviate from the uniform’s intended appearance would be a grave mistake—these reproductions are not swashbuckling outfits or thrown-together seafarer costumes. They represent a proud history of servicemen, and to capture such a dignified history demanded a certain attention to detail.

The above illustrates the difficulty Man the Capstan has had in designing these various uniforms. Before regulation came into effect in the 18th century, every uniform was different from another in some manner. Even after Royal Navy uniforms became regulated by the Admiralty, there were some deviations they could not account for. At this juncture we could not depend upon the rigidity of uniform policy, and had to find the correct, or the favoured style to emulate. This is where personal taste came into play.

Hornblower, BushMyself, I am more partial to the uniform of the early 19th century, a style that came about during the height of the Napoleonic Wars. C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series, and its A&E made-for-T.V. version, is a perfect example of this slow transition. The stoic Captain Edward Pellew is commonly found in white knee-length breeches, stockings and a cocked hat. As time progresses, however, and fashions change (the blue pants come into being, the naval chapeau de bras sees its introduction, etcetera), Pellew and his contemporaries (Captain Sawyer, from the Renown episodes) are rigid in their favouring of white breeches, while younger officers take to the blue. The first naval uniform, then, is far more similar to the uniforms worn by younger officers in the early 19th century. It’s worth pointing out, however, that white stockings and breeches were still worn, but perhaps in a more formal environment.

Tim (our Captain Edward Martin), however, has taken to the breeches and buckled-shoes style, and had his uniform fashioned in such a manner. To complete the look, and perhaps to add a bit of flare to the normally rigid, formal look of stockings and shoes, he had his shirt ruffled and acquired a jabot. It gives the second uniform a certain roguish, swashbuckling appearance. A great contrast with the first uniform. You can see a great shot showing the three pant-styles of each uniform, taken at the Blomidon Inn.

Pants of the Military Uniforms

These two uniforms also deviate from one another as far as the coat is concerned. The first coat is laced with 1″ bias-and-stand gold trim, while the second uniform uses 1/2″ bias-and-stand gold trim. The difference can sometimes be hard to spot, as both coats are trimmed in the exact same manner. The reason for this was not a question of taste, but rather one of convenience; our supplier of military trim was out of 1″, and October 31st was quickly looming ahead, and we wanted to debut the uniforms on that date (you can read about it here). Rather than wait, we ordered the 1/2″, which suited just fine. In fact, there are instances where such lace was used, and there was no set system for how wide the gold trim had to be.

Major CotardNow, though the Marine uniform was the last design to be decided on, or planned for, it was the first uniform completed. Technically speaking, it’s the only uniform really complete. We’re still waiting on lace for both of the navy uniforms, while the Marine is 100% complete. The design and layout of the Marine coat was far more difficult to nail down, and we referenced quite a few sources, including historical references (the NMM), artistic renditions (old paintings and portraits of serving Marines) and Hollywood. The Marines had some differences in their uniforms as well, just as the Navy did, and it was proving to be a challenge to decide how to arrange it. Eventually, just as with the others, we settled on personal taste. Steve, our Marine, chose a design worn by Major Côtard (Greg Wise) in Loyalty, the second-last episode of the Hornblower series. It seemed perfect, as Steve had already decided on the rank of Major. The pants are the same material as the first Royal Navy pants (the navy blue)—the coat is fashioned with scarlet gabardine. The buttons are an interesting story, actually. They were originally purchased for the RN coats, and are solid brass with an anchor stamped on them. When we found the King George RN buttons, they were quickly discarded. Finding RM buttons, in silver (the tone we wanted) is hard! So, with some silver plating Johanna had procured, we plated the brass buttons and they came out a brilliant silver. They matched the uniform perfectly.

Military Heritage Trim Metallic, SilverThe trim of the Marine coat is very different from the RN coats. First off, it is silver (that much is obvious, I trust). It is a wire lace, however, which is significantly different from the bias-and-stand variety we’re using for the navy uniforms. While roaming for appropriate lace, we decided to check with Military Heritage first (our lace supplier), and stumbled upon this silver metallic wire trim, the same used by many Government agencies, and also typically very expensive. It was on sale (I assume they had limited quantities, or had to buy a lot to complete an order, and had leftover), and we picked up 10 metres to trim the Marine coat. The final result was spectacular—it had an aura of quality and authenticity that’s difficult to replicate.

Save those differences noted above, there are smaller variations as well—all of the swords of the uniforms are different, and there are some accessories that one uniform will have, but another won’t. Guns, sashes, pocket-watches, hip-flasks, etcetera. They are all wonderfully different and unique, each of them an individual creation that has grown and will continue to grow as we acquire more accessories for them. We really have discovered that half the battle is sewing these uniforms—the other half, and the more challenging portion, is decorating them with the flash and pomp that is expected of imperial Great Britain.

That’s about it for the uniform variations. There may or may not be another Behind the Uniform post—it depends how construction proceeds! Hopefully the bias-and-stand trim we’ve ordered from Military Heritage arrives soon, and we can finish the RN coats.

Before I go, I’ll give you folks a peek at an album cover I’ve been working on for our Capstan CD, titled Man the Capstan: Sea Shanties and Folk Music. I most assuredly will use an old painting of some sort. Before I do, I need to make certain it’s in the public domain. I must say, though, I’m quite attached to this one, showing the bold H.M.S. Victory breaking the French line at Trafalgar. Let us know what you think!

Preliminary Album Cover

New Crew Member!

William Stephen James

In the late hours of an uncommonly mild winter’s evening, a new member of the Capstan Crew was written into the ship’s books. In January, Shara gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy. Tim hardly ever left Shara’s side (he had a hard time leaving to get a bite to eat, and some fresh air, but was eventually coaxed by myself and the Marine), and together they both welcomed a Mr William S. into the world. And though Mr William cannot hand, reef or steer, he is a most welcome addition to our Crew and this family. Tim and I have agreed he must be started on C.S. Forester’s Hornblower as soon as possible!

The whole ordeal was fairly smooth. Without going into too many details, the entire process was without too many surprises or unexpected outcomes, and just an hour or so before midnight, Mr William was born. He is a strapping 9 lbs 13  ozs, and remarkably healthy. Shara is still recovering in hospital, but she is doing quite well, and we will be out in another day to visit and see how she, Tim and William are doing. Exciting times, certainly!

The Crew had been updated a few days ago to reflect William’s impending arrival, but we will have to edit it slightly. We’re still trying to figure out what his position will be (i.e. sailing master, surgeon, purser), but we’ll figure something out. It was suggested he should fulfill the officer’s position, as none of the Capstan Crew carry anything more than a warrant. Perhaps the “Little Admiral”.

exeterThere’s been a few more new developments here at Man the Capstan, save the prodigious arrival of William. First and foremost, those familiar to the site will notice the inclusion of a Merchandise section, which was touched upon briefly on our New Year’s update. As noted in the disclaimer, and in that aforementioned post, Man the Capstan is not a commercial pursuit. The items listed through out merchandise section are all, in some manner or another, used, and have been placed there because they (a) relate to this project in some manner (such as the Officer’s Straight Dress Sword), or (b) because they fit into this historical period, and might help us out paying for some of these reproductions. Right now we’re housing all of our merchandise through the East Indiaman, the Exeter. The Exeter is a figurative, immersive tool that suits the random, unpredictable selection of wares that will be showcased from time to time.

Exeter Sale PicturePerhaps one of the most significant items for sale is our treasured Passage to India, one of the lady’s gowns created by our very talented tailor, Johanna. Tall Ships 2009 is still quite a few months away, and Johanna is already in the middle of a third gown (which uses colours she very greatly adores). She will have finished that well before Tall Ships arrives, and she figures that Passage to India might be an interesting purchase for some re-enactor out there, and perhaps might help us out with the various expenses here at Man the Capstan.

A Tiny HintThere’s been a few more uniform updates, as well! The company we get our military gold lace from is finally getting some more bias and stand from their supplier, which means we can finally finish the Navy uniforms. The first R.N. uniform is missing a good ten metres of lace (detailed work on the back, and the front white lapels). I’ll be sure to cover that in another update I’m planning right now. Another new acquisition that we just purchased is also for the first Royal Navy uniform, and is being shipped from Australia! I’ll keep it surprise for now, but I can assure you it’s spectacular!

The new dress that Johanna is working on will also receive a few updates and posts over the next few months. I believe she is still working on a title, but right now she’s been using Caribbean Spice. That should give you some hints as to the general colouring of the dress. Another one she will be tackling features a lovely array of blues, predominately an aquamarine colour. It will look fantastic, no doubt!

Also, some significant updates on our YouTube Channel! We have eight videos, total. Six Exhibit Insights, one Video Blog and one Event. New exhibit insights include our English dueling pistols, our R.M. sword, and a new series, The Shipwright’s Journals.

Here’s one Exhibit Insight on our distinctive chapeau de bras.

We’ll try to get on here and post a few more substantive updates; I know and understand that most of these are fairly dry in terms of content. Rest assured, there is more on the way! Before I take off for the night, I’ll leave you with a piece of music Johanna and I have been working on. It’s still a work in a progress for the most part, and there will be additional tracks coming of different sea shanties, but we plan to have a good 10-15 songs, perhaps enough to compile into an album! The song is titled Shenandoah, and it’s a very old and classic piece. I am singing the lead, and Johanna is performing the harmonies.

Preliminary Album Cover

Click the play button above (the track is embedded), and let us know what you think!