Our hugely knowledgeable costume Volunteers, also members of the Art Society, have uncovered some treasures recently. They, and other Volunteers, are systematically unpacking, checking, re-cataloging and re-packing the museum’s huge and important collection of costume. Week by week anything and everything which broadly comes under the heading of costume is lovingly poured over.

A fortnight ago, a petticoat of white lawn cotton and lace was unpacked by Volunteers Caroline Lanyon, Sarah Brumfitt, Selina Chudleigh, Pam Balchin. Dating from 1901, it had belonged to the donor’s mother and had been part of her trousseau that year. It had been made by Queen Victoria’s underwear seamstress. We might conjecture that, Queen Victoria having died in 1901, the seamstress had sought new customers elsewhere. and so produced this beautiful garment.

Photo taken for archive purposes only

The Volunteers described the petticoat as follows:

“This lawn and lace petticoat is made in narrow vertical panels on the bodice in white work and tucked lawn cotton. The sides are gently shaped with tucked V shaped horizontal panels in lawn and the lace shaped with godet darts. The hem of 400mm depth has horizontal panels of cotton lawn and lace. Many of the panels are joined a ladder stitch insertion. The back has a gusset opening to the hips and is fastened by eight covered buttons. The button holes are hand made with two top hand-worked loops.”

Not quite Queen Victoria’s undies, but almost!