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A group of former Yeovil College students have worked on costumes for the forthcoming BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s prize winning novel Wolf Hall.

The highly anticipated series presents an intimate portrait of Thomas Cromwell and his rise to power.

From humble beginnings as a brewer’s son in Putney to principal advisor to Henry VIII, Cromwell develops into a pragmatic and accomplished power broker capable of navigating the corridors of power and deadly political intrigue. Two-time Olivier and three-time Tony award winner Mark Rylance stars as Cromwell, alongside Damian Lewis (Henry VIII), Claire Foy (Anne Boleyn) and Jonathan Pryce (Cardinal Wolsey) and an extensive supporting cast.

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In an interview on the BBC website, Costume designer Joanna Eatwell emphasised the scale of the production, saying “It is about telling the story through the clothes. With Cromwell more than anything, it is visually indicating his rise which has been one of the more interesting points. Because of Mark [Rylance]’s background at the Globe Theatre, he works in a certain way which isn’t a way we often work in television, which is ‘getting back to original practice’ and making it how it was made at this time.

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Everything has been handmade for him, hand dyed, all the fastenings are correct.”

The production’s size and attention to detail led to opportunities for former Yeovil College students Beth

Dyer, Emily Plumb, Debra Ousley, Amy Whitehouse and Jessica Hamilton-Griffin. They leapt at the chance to gain experience of a high quality production, taking time off from work and university to get involved and working long hours to help ensure that various characters looked the part.

Jess Hamilton-Griffin said “I did a lot of costume design at Yeovil College and I had just finished my degree in Fashion Textiles at Middlesex University when I went to help out at Wolf Hall. I spent the day with the Costume Department, helping do last minute alterations. I spent most of my time sewing gold beads onto a jacket that Damien Lewis was going to be wearing as Henry VIII. All the members of the production were very welcoming and I had a lovely time. Even after 12 hours of sewing, I didn’t want to leave. I am certainly looking forward to spotting that jacket on screen!”

Photo 1Debra Ousley studied A Level Fashion & Textiles and a vocational Business course at Yeovil College before going to Manchester Metropolitan University, where she achieved a first in International Fashion Marketing.

She said “I was given the chance to assist the Costume Department for Wolf Hall at both Montacute House and Barrington Court. This was a unique opportunity, as I was able to gain first-hand knowledge and experience of activity behind the scenes of a TV production, from the bustle of getting actors into costumes ready for the next scene, to adjustments between filming and creating garments to meet deadlines. This experience has given me the chance to peer into the world of costume making, which has been an interest of mine for many years. It has also provided me with insight into the breadth of opportunities available for students and the amount of doors opened by education. It’s reassuring that

Yeovil College continues to support past students through committed lecturers such as Clarissa Ready.

This was a thoroughly exciting, enjoyable and rewarding experience that I will always remember.”

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Gayle Playford, Head Costume Cutter on Wolf Hall said “The Costume Team were very pleased to invite students, both past and present, from Yeovil College to work alongside us and gain practical experience of a very busy workroom and crowded costume department. Each one of the students gave something very special to the project – showing competence, drive, enthusiasm and excellent practical skill.

Each day is completely different when on location and the students were well prepared to take on any costume based task to include dressing Tudor courtiers in many layers of period costume, meticulously stitching on pearls and beads by hand in order to decorate a sleeve or a neckline, transporting heavy costumes from the trucks to the Unit Base for dressing and breaking costumes down to make them look dirty or used, depending on the requirements for the scene. Because of the nature of filming in different locations, time is of the essence and all tasks must to be carried out with accuracy and swiftness – and Beth, Debra, Jess, Amy and Emily were certainly able to work under pressure!

We hope that everyone learnt a great deal from the experience and enjoyed being part of our team, we enjoyed you being here with us, you all achieved great things.”

For more information about Wolf Hall, please visit For more information about Fashion & Textiles and other creative courses at Yeovil College, please visit


Company Pictures –


Photo 1 – Everyone on screen had to look the part, from leads to supporting cast. © Company Pictures / Playground Entertainment/ BBC

Photo 2 – Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, whose rise to power is told through his costume, which was accurate to the smallest detail. © Company Pictures/Playground Entertainment/ BBC

Photo 3 – Damian Lewis as Henry VIII wears clothes fit for a king. © Company Pictures/Playground Entertainment/ BBC

Photo 4 – Debra Ousley at work for the Costume Department.

Photo 5 – Beth Dyer puts the finishing touches to a blue velvet jacket.