This book explains how the costume and textile collection came to be – this is the foreword:
We began to collect costume almost by accident. In the early nineteen seventies, we saw a Victorian lady’s dark blue suit hanging in our local Antiques shop, and for £2.50p it seemed a harmless bargain. It was such a simple impulse at the time, but we were not to guess that thirty years later we would be the keepers of a collection of costume or dress and textiles of over three thousand pieces.
While we began by collecting women’s clothes, we soon passed on to men’s suits and uniforms, and then to accessories and textiles. These included jewellery, fans, feathers, hats, parasols and walking sticks, To these we then added furs, baby wear, embroideries, lace, and furniture . We also attracted quantities of magazines, books, fashion plates, studio portraits and family photographs. In the beginning the collection was meant to simply support our involvement in amateur drama, but it soon developed a life of its own.
Here I had hoped to tell you of the excitement as visitors began to turn up with, in many cases, exquisite pieces of costume or textiles. With a kind of naivety we rather thought that people would bring largely Victorian pieces as, at the time, this was what people generally thought of as Vintage costume, but the truth was that the most surprising people had costumes or accessories of all ages, and they appeared to have been waiting to find a loving home for them.
Something of the surprise and excitement, and above all, the stories and history behind most pieces, is what I offer you in this personal memoir.