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About Me

Bess Chilver is an entirely self-taught amateur historical costumer, who has been familiar with needle, thread and fabric since she was old enough to hold a needle, but caught the "costuming bug" in 1993 when she had to make her gown for her first year at Kentwell Hall's Recreations of Tudor Life in Suffolk, England.


Bess’  Tudor roles at Kentwell cover elite and gentry, middle class, and working-class woman. Her costume wardrobe starts in 1420 (Medieval Queen) and finishes around 1959 (Christian Dior Gown), and includes 18th Century, “Jane Austen”/Regency, Victorian, Edwardian/WWI, and WW2 WAAF Officer.

Her first love is Tudor and Elizabethan dress: the research, the making, and the wearing of gowns through the 16th century – whether elite level, middle class or working class. This interest has led to Bess giving lectures on Tudor and Elizabethan dress at Costume events in the USA such as Costume Con and Costume College, as well as at other events in the UK.


Bess’ has taught and supported other newbie costumers when embarking on making their own Tudor/Elizabethan (or other historical period) clothing – particularly for new participants at Kentwell Hall.

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