It’s a culture mash-up involving a house with a 1,000 year history, a Victorian girl’s diary and 21st century fashion. And the results are on display at Worcestershire’s Hartlebury Castle over the Easter weekend (31 March-2 April).

Six dresses have been made by Kidderminster Academy students as part of Altered and Evolved; a design project commissioned by the Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust.

“The students have done a stunning job,” said Penelope Thomas, Visitor and Engagement Manager at Hartlebury Castle.

“We invited them to make dresses inspired by the castle’s architecture, costumes from the castle’s personal collection and 1840’s diary entries written by a young girl, Emily Pepys. Aged just 12, she brilliantly described life at the castle and how her family prepared for her older sister’s debutante ball.

“All these influences have been used by the students to great effect.”

She continued: “Education is a huge part of the castle’s ethos and this display perfectly embodies our rich history and a look ahead to the future.”

The Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust secured a £5m Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2014 to purchase the Grade I listed building and transform the area into a heritage site.

A grand opening is set to take place on the May Day Bank Holiday Monday (7 May) with new rooms open to the public including the Bishop’s Study, the Prince’s Bedroom, Chapel and newly restored grounds.

“This is a project where our students have given 100% creatively and professionally,” said Cherith Nock, Lecturer at Kidderminster Academy. “To go from touring the castle, to sketching ideas, receiving feedback and now preparing everything ready for public view has been incredibly rewarding.

“They’ve received some lovely comments from The Trust as well as the castle’s staff and volunteers. Getting even more positive feedback from visitors will be the cherry on the cake.”

The students’ designs will also be on display with other stunning work during Kidderminster Academy’s Open Event on Wednesday 25th April from 4-7pm.

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