Kent farm helped to make silk for the Queen's Coronation dress

  • Report by ITV Meridian's Sarah Saunders

As the world watched Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation ceremony 70 years ago, a farm in Kent was tasked with working behind the scenes to make silk for Her Majesty's dress.

The silk-satin gown the Queen wore at the time was detailed with thousands of pearls, sequins and crystals.

It had national emblems of Great Britain and the Commonwealth - embroidered in gold and silver thread.

Some of the silk for that iconic outfit came, not only from India or China, but also from Lullingstone Castle in Kent.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

The farm was founded and run by Lady Zoë Hart Dyke - gardener Tom Hart Dyke's paternal grandmother.

Tom said: "Granny was absolutely amazing but she was also completely crackers I think.

"She established a silk farm here in 1929.

"It was a hobby - and she was an absolute enthusiast.

"She was fixated by that metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a cocoon into a moth and she loved it. She used to have as a youngster matchboxes full of these caterpillars."

  • Tom Hart Dyke remembers meeting the Queen

Thirty rooms of the house were taken over to breed silk worms with Tom's father vividly recalling the sound of the silkworms and the smell.

Tom added: "Any drawer that granny could get hold of that would contain these caterpillars she then fed.

"Dad, when he was alive, used to say most of his childhood he couldn't sleep because all he could hear was the munching of all these caterpillars."

When silk was needed for sections of the Queen's wedding dress - and later her Coronation robes - the Regal Commission went to Lady Hart Dyke.

He added: "They would send all these entourages down here, Queen Mary was down here in 1936 just to check it was a good enough quality for these amazing occasions. 

"And they looked no further than Granny, they knew she could produce what was required."

The farm was eventually sold and no longer exists but Tom was recently given a cutting from one of the original silk farm Mulberry trees.

He plans to plant it in honour of his grandmother and her majesty the Queen.