I have come to the conclusion that it is not the circus as a whole that I dislike but that my aversion is pretty much directed solely towards clowns. Maybe something happened the one and only time I went to the circus in my hometown. All I can remember is the outside of the tent … I have a very soft spot for aerialists, though, and not just on account of Burt Lancaster (honest!). And I generally adore circus outfits, and not just because of Merna Kennedy. So when I realised we had what was listed in the register as ‘a child’s acrobat costume, circa 1860′, I instantly had to check out this marvelous sounding object.
Welcome to the Museum of London blog - insightful and interesting digital content from our team.
Browse the blog, join in the conversation, and if you want to know more about the museum visit the main site.
The story of London Tweed
So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
Miss Levy’s Wedding Dress
This whole thing started a few years ago when a wedding dress came up at auction. Not being a wedding dress swooner I could nevertheless think of quite a few (entirely rational) reasons why the museum should acquire this particular example. For one thing it was made by Victor Stiebel, one of my favourite London couturiers. Secondly, we do not have enough of his creations (one never does) and they do not come up at auction very often. The dress also had an intriguing mystery inscription. We will get to that in a moment.
A starring role for the Suffragette collection
As curator of the museum’s wonderful Suffragette collection I often welcome ‘important’ visitors to the archive, captivated by the story of the women who endured imprisonment, hunger-strike and even force-feeding in their battle to win the vote.