Dress Collection Worn by Princess Margaret’s Mother-In-Law At Birr Castle

August 17, 2018

Daily Digest, Lifestyle

Dress Collection Worn by Princess Margaret’s Mother-In-Law At Birr Castle


A collection of the dresses worn by Princess Margaret’s mother-in-law is  on display in her family home, Birr Castle, this week. This is a rare opportunity to see these magnificent clothes and the life they reflected.

Are you a fashionista? Or an interiors devotee? Or a serious fan of Netflix’s award winning “The Crown” series? Would you like to see some stunning dresses by designers like Irene Gilbert, Charles James and Jacqmar, including the coat dress that Anne, 6th Countess of Rosse, wore to her son Anthony’s wedding to Princess Margaret?Lady Anna Oxmantown

The Ribbon Dress (above): This was made for Anne by Charles James in 1939 for the Duchess of Marlborough’s ball at Blenheim Palace. The skirt is in 1870s style and covered with bright, multicoloured, bow-tied ribbons. Made in the palest silk faille and flesh-toned organza, it has crossover shoestring shoulder straps and a bouillone skirt (over stiff tulle underskirts).

You can’t miss this expo at Birr Castle this Heritage week (August the 18th to the 26th) a collection that’s previously been on display in the V&A in London and the Metropolitan History Museum in New York. This is a chance to be part of living history. For the first time ever, a sneak preview of the amazing collection of dresses available at Birr will be displayed in the magnificent interiors of Birr Castle. www.birrcastle.com

The Parsons family have lived at Birr since 1620.  The Earl and Countess of Rosse,  have opened their home to the public for an extended range of summer castle tours during Heritage Week, with the added bonus of being able to see a small number of these authentic, world acclaimed dresses, some of which have already been on display in places like the V & A in London and at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.


I had the opportunity to visit the castle today and view the collection in person, meet Lady Rosse and hear first-hand what the dresses meant to her mother. What an amazing experience!

This magnificent castle is a rare gem in the heart of Ireland. The castle tour includes an extended ninety-minute guided tour of stunning beautiful reception rooms. A guide will lead you through the magnificent rooms while educating you on the extraordinary and pioneering history of the Parsons family, most especially in the area of science. Your guide will also discuss where and when the dresses were worn, the antique furniture, the family portraits, chandeliers and tapestries within the rooms you visit a part of Ireland’s history

Lady Anna Oxmantown

Referred to as the Beetle Dress with its dramatic shoulder line introduces a square shape that other designers achieved with padding. The dress is in black silk with a metallic weave by Charles James, the British-born designer who became known as America’s first couturier. The Beetle Dress dates from the 1930s and has returned from the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, lent for its Charles James retrospective. 

 The Dress Anne wore to Lord Snowden’s wedding to Princess Margaret

Victor Stiebel Ensemble, worn by Anne, Countess of Rosse at the marriage of Anthony Armstrong Jones to Princess Margaret, at Westminster Abbey 1960. London Courtier, Victor Stiebel designed this beautiful and distinctive ensemble for Anne. He also designed Princess Margaret’s primrose yellow going away outfit. Stiebel specialised in the 1930’s vogue for period styles loved by Anne.   This matching dress and coat was in oyster-coloured silk brocade (an unconventional ‘colour’ for the mother of the groom). The coat had a black mink fur shawl collar for the occasion. When packed away the outfit has a hand-written note. “The coat had a beautiful black mink collar which I could not afford to buy.” The outfit was obviously a great success as Anne wrote a note on Birr Castle headed paper: “This was acclaimed by the world as the smartest.”

Birr Castle

Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre is open daily 9am to 6pm. During Heritage Week the extended 90-minute Castle tours will take place at selected times each day, pre-booking is essential to avoid disappointment as places are strictly limitedThis is just a preview of the collection six dresses will be on display.  Castle tours are suitable for 12 years and above only (however there is a fabulous playground, jumping ‘pillow’ and Ireland’s largest treehouse in the castle gardens for kids. There’s also a coffee shop, gift shop and the world-famous telescope to see). Tickets per adult are €18 and this also includes access to Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre. For further information and booking, see www.birrcastle.com or call 057 9120336. 

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