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