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Another from our occasional series regarding the museum’s costume collection…

The collection is currently undergoing a complete review – each item, from feathers for a hat, to boxes for fans, babies’ bonnets and evening dresses and uniform jackets is unwrapped, checked, photographed and re-catalogued.

This photograph (above) is for cataloguing purposes only but shows us the exquisite colours and workmanship in a bodice which is nearly 250 years old.

Volunteers Anne Oaten and Prunella Notley processed this handmade item, dated to 1790, and described it thus:

The bodice of cream cotton twill is printed in a floral design of red and purple. The round neck is frilled and fastened with a button. It is shirred at the waist and has a gathered peplum. The front is fastened with hooks and eyes. The long, tight sleeves have button fastenings and piping at the shoulders which are magyar (dropped) style.

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Example from internet website

Some items in the collection are a complete surprise. Volunteer Elizabeth Turner processed something called an ‘ugly’. These were worn, in the mid nineteenth century, inside a bonnet brim, to shield the eyes from the sun. This one is blue silk, made up of six collapsible sections, supported by cane hoops. There are ribbons to tie under the chin. Who knew?

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