Abbey Musical Society was preparing in early 1997 for its next show - a musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The society was given permission to take publicity photographs in the elegant surroundings of Holker Hall. There they met Annie Brown, costumier from the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, from whom the society would hire costumes.

The most popular of novelist Jane Austen’s works, Pride and Prejudice was a very high-profile story in 1997 following the successful television series.

Glenda Fullard, Abbey’s wardrobe mistress, went to the costume hire department of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.

“The costumes are brilliant,” she said.

“They research everything very thoroughly and make sure all the clothes are historically accurate, including the underwear, to get the look just right.”

Sixth Form College student Fiona Windle, 17, would play the book’s heroine, Lizzie, an independent and spirited young lady for her time.

“Lizzie Bennet is my heroine,” she said. “We are doing the book for A level English literature.

“I watched the television series and it’s a big stress trying to live up to it, because the audience will have seen it and they are bound to compare you.”

There would be about 60 people in the show, which had been written by Bernard J Taylor, who was negotiating its first professional staging.

It was proving quite a task for costumier Annie Brown, who had worked at the Royal Exchange for five years and was in charge of the costume hire department.

The Pride and Prejudice costumes for the principals were specially made for a production at the Royal Exchange in the 1980s and the clothes worn by Abbey's members were still labelled with the actors' names from that show including Abigail and Melanie Thaw, daughters of actor John Thaw (Morse) and Finty Williams, daughter of actress Dame Judi Dench.

Annie would also have to make about 100 costumes in two months for the Abbey's chorus.