The Designer Diaries – Norman Hartnell: Brides Pt.3

Brides: Parts 12can be found here. Only one more after this to go! Several of the links are to various interviews with and excerpts from Lady Glenconner’s autobiography. A lot of good info straight from the source!

Welcome to the wedding of Lady Anne Coke to Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner. Much like his gown for Margaret Whigham some 23 years earlier, Hartnell created a show stopping dress for Lady Anne, who was a good friend to both Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth. Let’s get to know a bit about our bride.

Anne Veronica Coke is the eldest child of Thomas Coke, 5th Earl of Leicester and his wife, Elizabeth. Anne was primarily raised at the family’s estate, Holkham, in Norfolk, about 10 miles from Sandringham, where she and her sister were regular playmates of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Anne was named Tatler magazine’s ‘Debutante of the Year’ in 1950, and was chosen to be a train bearer for Queen Elizabeth at her coronation in 1953.

Lady Anne was 23 on her wedding day, April 21st, 1956, and the couple married at Holkham in front of 700 guests. Her A-line gown was created out of embroidered silk organza, and featured silver thread on the heavily embroidered bodice, along with a scalloped neckline. The dress didn’t show up until 2 hours before the wedding, along with one of Hartnell’s fitters “just in case”.

The gown was on display at the 2012/2013 “Hartnell to Amies: Couture By Royal Appointment” exhibit at the The Fashion and Textile Museum in London, and is now displayed at Holkham Hall, along with other family wedding gowns. Once again blogger Fiona of “My Blogging London Life” has allowed me to use the photos she took of the gown in 2012. Do check out her blog. She has a lot of great photos from this exhibit.

Fiona, I took the liberty of removing the yellow tone in your photos, caused by the lighting. I hope you don’t mind! Look at the back of this gown! lovely.

On display at Holkham Hall.

Some photos from the wedding and a video featuring the Queen Mum and Princess Margaret, who were the event’s honored guests. The Cokes were great friends with King George and Queen Elizabeth, and according to Anne, her father was very upset when he realized he had scheduled the wedding on Q Elizabeth’s birthday, leaving her unable to attend.

This staircase! And notice the signature on both this photo and our featured photo above. “Armstrong-Jones”. Now where have I heard that name before? Yes, Mr. Antony Armstrong-Jones was the wedding photographer, but he didn’t officially meet Margo until a couple of years later.

Photo Credit:

I’m very impressed by Hartnell’s ability to go from fashion era to fashion era without batting an eye. So many designers get stuck in a rut, but he was definitely a go with the flow kind of guy. Of course I suppose it does help when you’re the guy who basically created “the flow” to begin with, doesn’t it? What do you think? Is Lady Glenconner and her dress new to you, or has it always been on your radar? I personally love a good wedding dress, and this one seems like it would be as fabulous in 2020 as it was in 1956. Let us know your thoughts below!