The original catalogue listing and this related website have been compiled by Prof Lou Taylor and Dr Charlotte Nicklas, who teach and research the history of dress and textiles at the University of Brighton Faculty of Arts.
This project has been achieved only through the generous help of all curators and managers whose collections are introduced here. We thank them.
On the occasion of the Costume Society's Annual Symposium at Eastbourne in July 2011, our aim here to celebrate and publicise the wealth and richness of museum and other dress/textiles collections in the South, SE and SW of England. We apologise for all absences and errors in this first edition, and look forward to receiving advice on filling in mistakes and voids, for a second edition and ongoing amendments to the website. We thank Fiona Wooley, Collections Officer at Maidstone Museum, for notifying DATS curators. This led to interesting responses which considerably widened our geographical boundaries - a little vaguely perhaps.
This listing provides key evidence of the cultural significance and historical importance of these collections. Whilst some are well known, others are not, yet all contain precious objects of local, regional and national significances. Some collections have been established for many years, whilst at least three listed here are quite newly placed into museums (Petersfield, Dover and Totnes.) We are all aware that student, public and research demands to visit dress/textiles stores for 'close-up' study falls heavily on major national museums. The V&A, Museum of London, Bath, Platt Hall, Manchester and Worthing Museum, for example, are sometimes overwhelmed with undergraduate, public and postgraduate access demands. This research indicates that every one of the collections listed here is also rich in significant examples, which are just as well worth studying.
The choice of images shown here was designed to match the Costume Society's 2011 Symposium themes of 'Pleasure, Leisure, Travel and Fashion.' Fortuitously, this elicited images of unseen treasures dating from the late 16th century to the present day. The listing also confirms the opportunities, perhaps, for more lending and sharing of artefacts between all these museums? Already, to give just one example amongst others, Martin Pel's Dress for Excess exhibition at the Royal Pavilion (2011 and on-going) has successfully borrowed Regency dress from Worthing, Petersfield and Tunbridge Wells Museums.
Imagine the fun of travelling exhibitions drawn from the collections highlighted here – perhaps on fancy or travel dress, or sportswear. Finally we have added in a small reference to museums in the region which have collections of ethnographical dress- possibly to be developed into a later listing. Holdings here are also impressive and sometimes under known.
Image: A May Day Garland wood engraving by David Jones c. 1925, St Dominic's Press. Reproduced with kind permission from Ditchling Museum.