Ivanhoe -The Colouring!


Ivanhoe, Oxton, 1907. My coloured version. Click the image a few times to see it larger and in more detail. It’ll open in a different tab or window.


Ivanhoe, Oxton, 1907. (Original photograph). Click the image a few times to see it larger and in more detail. It’ll open in a different tab or window.


On the back of this photo it has, in pencil: OXTON 1907 ‘IVANHOE’.  So I had a look online and eventually, in the newspaper notices part of a genealogy site, I found this:

From: The Western Times, Friday, August 16, 1907.


Adapted from Sir Walter Scott’s Novel,
OXTON (Weather Permitting)
AUGUST 17, 21, 22 & 24
At 2.30 p.m. each day.

ENTRANCE, one shilling; Reserved Seats, extra. Tea and light refreshments procurable in the Grounds. Conveyances will meet the 1.6 and 1.16 p.m, down, and 12.22 and 12.38 p.m. up trains at Starcross. Seats in conveyances can be booked in advance on application to Mr. E. Baker, Courtenay Arms, Starcross; Mr. D. Priest, Devon Arms, Kenton.

No admission possible after 2.30 p.m. Grounds open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.


There’s more than one Oxton in England, and, before I found the news listing, I had assumed that it would have been the one in Nottinghamshire as the original story by Sir Walter Scott has Robin Hood in it. But I was wrong. It’s in the one in Devon and I think ‘The Grounds’ must have referred to the grounds of Oxton House which is a little outside of Kenton and closer to Exeter. Here, in fact:

If you click inside the view, you can click and drag and use your mouse to move inside it. So, if you want, you can explore the area and see if you can find where this production of Ivanhoe may have been photographed. I haven’t been successful with the exact location yet, but maybe you will be. Chances are that since 1907, the landscape has changed a fair bit. In 1987 there was a hurricane that felled a lot of trees in England, so maybe some in the photo are now gone.

Here’s the thing about this photo. It arrived from its Ebay seller as a faded sepia RP (Real Photograph) postcard. I was fascinated by it because it’s a medieval theme and, while I know it was a highly unromantic and bloody time in history, I’ve always had a fondness for it. (When I was eight, I was so potty about the period that I drew a coloured-pencil version of the Bayeux Tapestry to decorate my room, copied straight out of a history book! My dad climbed a ladder and stuck it on the wall above the picture rail.)  But added to the medieval theme in the photo is the fact that its an Edwardian interpretation of the period. So I had to think about colours both from the accessibility of fabrics and dyes in the Edwardian era and how they would have interpreted Scott’s novel. Add to that, the fact that I’ve never read Ivanhoe all the way through… and you’ll see how difficult this was to do.

So… off I went to Project Gutenberg and downloaded a copy of the original book. And discovered that I couldn’t concentrate on reading it all. So, as I’d already done quite a bit of the colouring, I just checked on the jester’s outfit and tried to make sure that I hadn’t done anything wrong…

oh, but I had. Well, I should think nearly everything is wrong as I couldn’t find a consensus of opinion as to the royal colours of the time. Things were made worse by the fact that the Edwardians in the photo hadn’t interpreted their costumes from the orginal anyway… so I decided that the best course of action was just to go with my own interpretation.

The Jester (‘Wamba, the son of Witless’), in the book, wears a purple jacket, a red cloak with a yellow interior, yellow and red leggings, and more bells than this one has. This one hasn’t a cloak at all and I thought if I made his jacket purple that he’d fade into obscurity. So I gave him a red jacket and a red and yellow bi-coloured hat. (Originally I’d done it in yellow, but added the red side as an afterthought.)

The seated royal is meant to be Prince John who, as we know, was bad. (As an aside, and I think as it’s my blog, I’m entitled to one, one of my favourite children’s poems is King John’s Christmas.  Yes, I know it’s not yet Christmas but do listen to it, it’s great fun… unlike the real King John.) So, as I didn’t know his colours, I just went with the ‘gold is royal’ notion.

Difficult to know if Robin Hood is the man between the horses or the man standing at the far right of the photo, or someone else entirely. By the way, I think the latter – the man at the right – has his script tucked into his belt!

The others, well… I’ve used a bit of….um no…. a lot of poetic licence.

I’d still like to get the royal colours right so if anyone has any suggestions, they’re welcome. Also, I don’t suppose the horse should be wearing gold… is its rider not supposed to be Ivanhoe in disguise?

And… there’s more to do but hopefully what I’ve not done won’t be particularly obvious.

So that’s Ivanhoe -The Colouring!



21 thoughts on “Ivanhoe -The Colouring!

  1. I love the detective stories about figuring out the setting and the color schemes. The jester’s outfit looks great, even if the actor appears to have fallen asleep! They really did this production in style – we have a pretty good Renaissance Faire near here, every summer, but I don’t think they can muster three dozen people for one scene.
    At one of my grandmother’s houses, there was a fold-out print of the Bayeux Tapestry, not life size, of course, but pretty big, I think it might have been National Geographic or something. We loved studying it, although I wondered what kind of people would just be blithely riding over all the dead soldiers along the bottom edge. You were a pretty ambitious kid to tackle that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I do think the Jester actor’s either fallen asleep or maybe he suddenly remembered he hadn’t had lunch! What gets me is how dull and plain the fabric is that’s draped over the wooden frame. You’d think if they went to all that trouble with the costumes, they could’ve at least painted a design on the fabric! (I strugged with what colour to have it. Originally I made it blue, but it didn’t quite work. Apropos the Bayeux Tapestry frieze… I don’t suppose I did all the detail, but I remember that I took a fair amount of care with it.

      I found a rather dizzy-making 360 degree view of the tapestry, here.

      and did you know (I’d forgotten) that there’s a British replica of it in England, too. Here’s the website: http://www.bayeuxtapestry.org.uk/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good job on the research!

    If you are not familiar with it, the 1952 film version of the Scott novel might be worth a watch if you can get access to it:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanhoe_(1952_film) Stars Robert Taylor as Ivanhoe, Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca, and George C. Scott as the baddie. You’ll probably enjoy that better than you did the book.

    I can see how Scott’s novels would appeal to the Edwardians. They were big on house parties, and staging amateur theatricals at same. Scott’s sappy romantics, over the top plot lines, swashing and buckling and requirement for fancy dress costumes would be greatly appealing to the Edwardian country house set.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!
      I rewatched some of the 1952 film, on and off, on Youtube while colouring this. I remember having seen it a long time ago (the movie’s just a bit younger than me!) What I do remember and might get on DVD to rewatch sometime, is the version with Anthony Andrews, James Mason and Olivia Hussey. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanhoe_(1982_film) I quite enjoyed it at the time.

      Yes, I would think this would have suited the Edwardians, completely!


    1. I’d wondered if Oxton House had a historic society, in which case I might have been able to track down some descendants, but it seems it was sold a while back and made into flats (apartments). I might still find them one day. But yes, I expect the performers in the scene would have enjoyed this! Thanks.


  3. You did a wonderful job with the coloring, and the research was especially interesting. I was taken with the pointed headgear worn by the women. It reminded me of the costumes worn by men at the rural Mardi Gras festivities in Louisiana. The roots of the celebration are very old, deep in the Acadian past, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find some connection, somewhere. I know almost nothing about the history of fashion, but those conical hats are certainly unusual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The conical hat’s called a Hennin and the folks who produced this version of Ivanhoe in 1907 didn’t do their research well enough as it was worn at least 150-200 years after the period in which Scott set his novel! However, in Britain, childrens books often used illustrations of these hats to describe what medieval women wore, so it may be that it’s been cemented into the heads of Victorians and Edwardians enough that they thought this was what women ‘should’ wear. 🙂 It’s possible it influenced the Mardi Gras costumes, as the Hennin has its roots in France, but I wonder if the costumes worn by men at Mardi Gras are based, more, on the conical hat often associated with ‘magical’ beings (such as wizards) of folklore. I’ve seen that it’s also to do with various indigenous peoples. But I think it’s true to say that most (if not all) folklore throughout the world shares some similarities.

      Liked by 1 person

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