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Coronation maid's dress to go on display for Queen's Platinum Jubilee

Dress worn by Queen’s maid of honour at the Coronation, which went missing for 40 years, is painstakingly restored to go on show for the Platinum Jubilee

  • The lavish dress, which has tiny 22-inch waist, was worn for Queen’s Coronation
  • Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill donned the frock for the historic event
  • The dress went missing for 40 years, but was recently found in Blenheim Palace
  • Now textile conservator Emma Telford has painstakingly restored it for Jubilee
  • Latest Platinum Jubilee news as the Queen celebrates 70 years of service

A lavish maid of honour dress from the Queen’s Coronation has been painstakingly restored and will go on display to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

The outfit, designed by the Queen’s dressmaker Norman Hartnell, was worn by Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill at the 1953 Westminster Abbey ceremony.

It has a tiny 22-inch waist, with a motif of gold leaf and pearl white blossom.

The dress was recently rediscovered at Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, after going missing for over 40 years.

It will be showcased at the Palace – Winston Churchill’s birthplace – following its restoration by textile conservator Emma Telford.

The dress was worn by Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill (second left) for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, before later going missing for 40 years

After the frock was recently rediscovered in Blenheim Palace, Oxon, it required restoring, to bring it back to its former glory

Pictured after the restoration, the dress, which features a motif of gold leaf and pearl white blossom, is back to looking pristine

Alongside it will be the gloves she wore that day and a brooch presented to the six maids of honour.

Lady Rosemary first learnt of her major role at the Coronation by written invitation in January 1953.

The letter read: ‘Madam, I have it in command from the Queen to inform you that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to appoint you as a Maid of Honour to assist the Mistress of the Robes in bearing Her Majesty’s train on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Coronation.’

She had four dress fittings and attended eight rehearsals before the Coronation on June 2, 1953.

As the most senior maid of honour, she rode in the carriage as part of the procession to the abbey.

Textile conservator Emma Telford, pictured at her studio in Hereford, worked on the frock after it was discovered after being lost for four decades


The lavish frock boasts a tiny 22-inch waist. It also features a gold leaf and pearl white blossom motif, cap sleeves and wide v-neck

Lady Rosemary recalled in a 2013 BBC interview: ‘The noise was absolutely fantastic.

‘The roar of the crowd, I do remember that very well.

‘And of course, it was a pretty awful day. It wasn’t raining non-stop but it was cold and we had nothing but our gloves.

‘We were in the carriage with Lord Tryon who was Keeper of the Privy Purse.

‘In this wonderful embroidered purse he gave us sweets to eat on the way round London.

‘I was excited. I don’t think one was too apprehensive.

Textile conservator Emma Telford poses with the restored dress, with Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill, who first donned the gown back in 1953

‘Like everything we’d been so well-schooled for so long that we knew exactly what we had to do and when we had to do it.

‘The Queen was very relaxed and full of confidence.

‘When we were all in place and holding her train she said ‘Are you ready girls?’ and we set off.

‘When the Queen made her oath and she was anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury with oil on her forehead, dressed in just a little linen shift, she looked very vulnerable, but she was completely calm and fantastic.’

The Queen’s gown for the Coronation was made of ivory silk satin and encrusted with 10,000 seed pearls.

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