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Last summer, we visited the beautiful city of Bath. The sun was shining and the heat felt more like a Mediterranean summer than a British September. The buildings shone in their golden splendour and street performers were out in force, filling the air with dulcet tones and guitar strums.

Despite the weather, we headed straight for the cellars of The Assembly Rooms, which were dully lit and cool. In the bowels of this magnificent building, where the ceilings stretched almost to the gods, the walls were the same light blue as the sky outside, and the giant chandeliers twinkled like stars, there lay a dazzling collection of gowns, suits and accessories dating as far back as King James I (or King James VI of Scotland).

The research for my current work-in-progress has been (and is still) vast. If I researched the Victorians from now until the end of my life I’m sure I still would not know everything I should for one novel. However, I was trying my best to find out as many facts and gain as much knowledge as I could whilst I was travelling. I mainly use the internet and books, both written at the time and research books. Indeed, I have read many an article about fashion and clothing of the Victorians; how the bustle replaced the liberating crinoline, how underwear became a two-piece rather than a gown, how dress making started to become partly mechanised, how new dyes saw the fashion for brighter colours, etc. However, there is nothing like being mere inches away from a gown made and worn in the 1800s.

This is the real pull of this museum for any budding historical author. It is a haven of knowledge for both fashion and the culture that went hand in hand with fashion throughout the ages. The outfits stand proudly behind glass, but still, they are so close that you can really study all the detail of the fabric and design. And besides the somewhat obvious dresses and suits, the museum also displays the footwear and accessories that would have been worn in times gone by. This was particularly beneficial for me as I have not quite managed to find this sort of information readily on the internet. Even if all this info is online, the ability to view these items allows you to see the size of the people, the size of fashionable shoes, the narrowness of the waists, the delicacies of the fans, the toffee-like quality of the tortoiseshell combs.

To really get the full experience, take an audio guide. The helpful female voice on this guide tells you snippets of information on practically every piece in the entire collection. And please read the information that accompanies every museum piece for anything the nice lady might have missed out. I took many pictures (without the flash!) of the garments and the info displays to use as research aids as all this information can’t possibly be retained in our already packed brains.

So please, to all of you interested in history or fashion, whether you are writing a book or not (Luke really enjoyed it as well), go to the Fashion Museum.                                                   



About the author

Delphine Woods

Delphine Woods

Delphine Woods is an author who loves to write historical mysteries and thrillers. 

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