The town where I live, Bridport, is busy trying to reinvent itself and drag itself upmarket and into the 21st century. When a local hotel revamped itself and became a ’boutique’ hotel, there were cries from camps both applauding the move and loathing it. When an old derelict cinema was renovated and opened as an arts venue ‘The Electric Palace’ there was universal approval. However, when a reporter from the Observer newspaper suggested Bridport was becoming ‘Notting Hill on Sea‘ (in theory due to the large number of trendy London folk now visiting the town) there was uproar.
In Bridport, there is a brilliant shop called T Snook. This is their web site. They are a hatter and gentleman’s outfitters and inside it is an Aladdin’s cave full of hat treasure – they sell every kind of hat you can imagine – panama hat, bowler hat, top hat, fedora, fez, deerstalker, beret, bush hat, trilby, boater – the list is endless. Splendidly, they decided to organise an event which they hope will become an annual tradition – the Bridport Hat Festival.
The sun was shining on Saturday, so I donned my hat (straw – very conservative) and headed into town to see what was going on. It was amazing. It seemed like the whole town was wearing hats, some had made the effort to make a wonderful hat, others were just wearing whatever they had at home but it was an fantastic sight. There were loads of trade stands selling every kind of hat, workshops teaching how to make hats (and their mini relation, the fascinator.) Here are some photos I took on Saturday.
At 12.30 there was a mass hat photograph in the town square (which is called BuckyDoo Square)
Later in the day there was a cocktail party and all the women attending had to wear a fascinator (not my favourite piece of headgear) but I have to say, having got togged up and worn one I am coming round to the idea of them.
But I knew that it reminded me of something…
Later in the evening there was a poetry cabaret which was also excellent – the highlight was Matt Harvey – an hilarious poet who appears on Radio 4 regularly and who has also been asked to be the official Wimbledon poet in residence. His tennis poem ‘Thwock!’ was hilarious and my favourite. Listen to it here. (possibly UK only…)
These ladies are called the Lyme Bay Lovelies – a branch of the Red Hat Society, founded for ladies who are over 50 but not ready to start acting their age. The society was based on the poem ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Today we watched an Argentine Tango Social Dancing display and then later we went to see local singer Jess Upton perform at the final event of the weekend.
The whole thing has been a brilliant success and lets hope the Bridport Hat Festival returns next year.
Sounds like fun. Mrs Shilling would have loved it. http://www.davidshilling.com/gertrudes.html
She would indeed – and Bridport would have loved her hats!
Great stuff ! Who would have thought that such levels of eccentricity lay just under the surface in Bridport ?
Erm, am I detecting a hint of irony in that statement? :-)
It was brilliant, all the usual bonkers people you see wandering around Bridport were out in force + hats.
We even met a chap from Crewkerne…
Would it be okay to use some of your photos for a gallery on the Hat Fest website?
For sure! Do you need me to send them to you?
Thanks, I have just downloaded some of the above. I’ll let you know when they’re published.
Thanks Diane see http://www.bridporthatfest.org/galleries/2010a/index.htm
how very mad and English …. I soooo love hats but only tend to wear them in the winter months .. I wish they were the everyday ‘thing’ to wear all year round ….you look really fab btw :)
We were saying the same thing. In the olden days, folk wouldn’t go out without wearing a hat, maybe we should start a campaign to bring back hats :-)
T Snook would be very pleased :-)
Now that is a splendid idea …… I thoroughly approve.
I have my doubts about fascinators as well, spookily the TG and I were talking about them just the other day, but I must say you look very nice in that piece of frippery ….. not-so-much when you were younger perhaps!
I’m also slightly doubtful about the poem – it’s fine in principal but not in detail …….
Never liked fascinators – always thought it was a stupid name for a stupid, silly item. Just buy a hat!
I had to buy or make one to go to the cocktail party, didn’t leave myself enough time to make one, so bought the most innocuous one I could find – and worryingly, ended up rather liking it :-/
The story behind the dopey ribbon in the other photo was that my parents had had a row and my mum had stomped off just before the photographer arrived so my dad had to get me ready. Hence very droopy bow in hair.
True about the poem – do we really want hoards of old ladies going around spitting? I think not.
If the name Facinator upsets you try the Victotian name ( first invented circa 1885 )
I love hats, Diane. These shots are great! Never heard of a fascinator, before. But I must say it looks fascinating! :)
Thanks, next year, I’m going to really concentrate on photographing the hats, I missed some really good ones :-)
Wow..! Love those hats..!
Aren’t they gorgeous? We don’t wear hats often enough these days, it was fun to have an excuse to wear one :-)
Looks like a great time was had by all…just wish I lived closer…I love a good hat.
So do I. Hats are great, we should all wear more hats! Bring back the forties and fifties! On second thoughts…..
I adore hats…just not on me. My hair gets so flat and never bounces back. :P You are so pretty in that hairbow!
That is the most exciting event I’ve seen or read about in ages! I adore hats and wear them all the time, every season, against cold or sun or rain or just because I look good in them—to see a whole COMMUNITY wearing hats makes my heart sing! Great photos!
Fantastic post with the great news of HAT city! Why we are not keeping a new title of Bridport?I will call Brid-Hat-Port:)
hey that is such a cool fest to be a part of ! Super hat varieties in the photos. Nice post. good Blog.