Worthing Museum 10 Feb


What has this collection of words have in common?  I will reveal.

I have been lucky to have quite a few book signings lined up for me, and most authors would be thrilled at such coverage, but what do you do when your health decides it is going to be spiteful and play you up when you want to look and be your chatty self?

Like most people I have had this flu/cold since just after Christmas and it has refused to go away, despite me throwing every sugar free remedy at it (I am also diabetic), so have to watch cold remedies with care.  I thought I was over the worst, but as the first of my book signing loomed it decided to pay me yet another unwelcome visit!  There is only one thing I could do, grit my teeth and resign myself to fact that I needed to rest. The first signing at Worthing museum and Art Gallery went well, and although I was no functioning on four cylinders in went very well.

Worthing museum and art gallery

On the subject of visits I wonder how many people from the area have visited our local Worthing Museum.  I have lived in Worthing ten years and although I have popped in to see the odd item or two, I’ve never really had a good look around, so I decided to look at the museum. And when I was offered a ‘behind the scenes tour,’ I jumped at the opportunity, and was surprised to learn that the museum  is the home of more than 30,000 pieces of costume and textiles, thought to be largest  outside London next to the Victoria and Albert.

It dates back to the 17th century, and includes an impressive collection of 800 pairs of shoes, the most famous being a pair belonging to Her Royal Highness Princess Amelia dating to 1798. Also included is a very diverse collection of jewellery, fans and parasols, and contains an array of homemade items, altered pieces, as well as high street fashions.

air of Queen Victoria’s knickesr -similar to the one in Worthing museum

There are aisles upon aisles of boxes stacked to the ceiling, and vast hanging rails, but two things intrigued me, a pair of Queen Victoria’s knickers and a pair of David Bowie’s trousers left at the Assembly Halls long before he was famous.  Queen Victoria’s crotch-less 52-inch waist bloomers were donated to the museum in the Fifties after being purchased at a garden party at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. They are not in pristine condition and have definitely been worn.  The queen was in the habit of giving her used knickers as presents to her ladies- in-waiting, and to any female in the household she was visiting. There’s a story that, just before he died, Prince Albert saw a pair of her knickers in the window of a charity shop in Windsor and said they were his wife’s.

David Bowie Ziggy Tour

Another item that caught my eye was a pair of David Bowie’s trousers that had been worn by David Bowie at Worthing’s Assembly Hall on 11 May 1972 during his Ziggy Stardust tour. In comparison, the 52-inch waist knickers of Queen Victoria look enormous against Bowie’s mere 22 inch trousers.  It was thought they had been lost within the vast collection, but when they were discovered they had to be researched and authenticated before they could go on display.

“The trousers, which are now classified as museum accession number 1983/419, were donated by Mr J Fowle in 1983 and as a result of historic changes to the curatorial team they were unveiled as part of the ongoing collection cataloguing which enabled their inclusion in a digital database of the collection funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

“The trousers, which are now displayed on the ground floor of the museum, feature a diamante hem detail, and are backed in black crepe.  They also have a zip fastening and include flares measuring three-feet in circumference which required four panels of fabric for their creation.

Launch 1 Heene Road

Last Saturday was the official, launch along with two novels, and again although my cold made an appearance it did not spoil the enjoyment too much.  My finally local book signing is at Waterstones in Worthing this coming Saturday 24 February 2-4pm, so if you are in the area, do pop in and say hello.  I promise I will not pass on my cough to you!

Launch Cake – Heene Road






About Wendy Hughes

Wendy turned to writing, in 1989, when ill-health and poor vision forced her into early medical retirement. Since then she has published 26 nonfiction books, and over 2000 articles. Her work has appeared in magazines as diverse as The Lady, Funeral Service Journal, On the Road, 3rd Stone, Celtic Connections, Best of British, and Guiding magazine. She has a column in an America/Welsh newspaper for ex-pats on old traditions and customs in Wales. Her books include many on her native Wales, Anglesey Past and Present, The Story of Brecknock, Brecon, a pictorial History of the Town, Carmarthen, a History and Celebration and Tales of Old Glamorgan, and a book on Walton on Thames in the Images of England series, a company history and two books on the charity Hope Romania. She has also co-authored two story/activity books for children. Her latest books are: Haunted Worthing published in October 2010, a new colour edition of The Story of Pembrokeshire published in March 2011, and Shipwrecks of Sussex in June 2011 and Not a Guide to Worthing in 2014. She is working on a book entitled A-Z of Curious Sussex which will be published in 2016 Wendy also works with clients to bring their work up to publishable standard and is currently working on an autobiography with a lady that was married to a very famous 1940’s travel writer. Wendy has spent many years campaigning and writing on behalf of people affected by Stickler Syndrome, a progressive genetic connective tissue disorder from which she herself suffers. She founded the Stickler Syndrome Support Group and raises awareness of the condition amongst the medical profession, and produces the group’s literature, and has written the only book on the condition, Stickler The Elusive Syndrome, and has also contributed to a DVD on the condition, Stickler syndrome: Learning the Facts. She has also writing three novels, Sanctimonious Sin, a three generation saga set in Wales at the turn of the century, Power That Heal set in the Neolithic period entitled Powers that Heal, and a semi biographical book entitled New Beginnings which deals with two generations coping with blindness and a genetic condition. She has also had a handful of short stories published, and in her spare time is working on several at the moment. She also gives talks on a variety of subjects including Writing and Placing Articles, Writing Local History, Writing as Therapy, Writing your first novel, etc, and runs workshops on the craft of writing – both fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, and a member of the Society of Authors.