It is important that people making costumes for period drama and the living history movement have access to surviving clothing, the better to get a proper understanding of the physical characteristics of the period dress that they are dealing with. Some of the Collection can be handled by students for examining construction and sewing techniques, and used by our team for taking patterns; more fragile articles can be displayed on figures.
The School provides access to original garments , textiles and accessories during its courses for small groups with varying reasons for studying costume and encourage the greater appreciation and use of original craft practices and skills. We cannot accommodate private research and study for the time being, as we have no permanent staff and no space for examination outside courses or special events.
We are continuing to acquire objects so that we can teach as many areas of historical dress as possible using extant garments, textiles and related matter.
Our present focus is on developing our collections of mens’ tailored garments pre-1900, women’s underpinnings and pre-1700 textiles and dress, together with historical sewing samplers.
Over the years we have also accepted donations of objects that added to our collections, as well as long-term loans from private owners.
Historical tools are vital to our teaching. Amongst others we are collecting nineteenth century sewing machines and sewing pillows and have commissioned the manufacture of medieval curved leather knives, iron buttonhole cutters, pinking tools and sixteenth century ruff-setting irons for our students to use.