Discover the Elizabeth Hammond conservation grant

By Janet Wood, Costume Society Committee Member

In this week's blog, Costume Society Committee Member Janet Wood discusses the fantastic dress and costume conservations the Elizabeth Hammond conservation grant has enabled

Since the inaugural grant to Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery in 2016, Costume Society Elizabeth Hammond Conservation Grants have been awarded annually for a variety of garment conservation projects.

In 2017 a grant was given to the Fashion Museum Bath to conserve three lace dresses for their ‘Lace in Fashion’ exhibition. A very important garment was ‘Queen Charlotte’s lace dress’ which received extensive media coverage, featuring in articles in both the Guardian and the Telegraph. It was also the subject of a radio interview on Radio 4’s The Today Programme. Elly Summers, Exhibition Curator writes:

“We are so grateful to The Costume Society for the award of the Elizabeth Hammond Grant, without which these beautiful and important dresses would still be in storage. The three lace dresses have made such a fantastic contribution to the exhibition and it has been particularly exciting and a great privilege to be able to share the discovery of the Queen Charlotte dress. This dress may be the only surviving garment in the world belonging to Queen Charlotte, which, before conservation was a sad and crumpled object but has surfaced as one of the leading objects in the exhibition."

In 2018, The Costume Society gave a grant to the Museum of Edinburgh for the conservation of the finest 18th-century dress in their collection. The dress had been in the collection for many decades, and was of interest to researchers, dressmakers and the general public, but had been identified during a conservation assessment as being unsuitable for display. Full conservation treatment enabled this significant dress to be displayed to the public for the first time.

In 2019, a grant was given to Manchester Art Gallery to conserve a smoking jacket for their exhibition, ‘Dandy Style’, opening in October 2022. Curator Miles Lambert comments:

“We were delighted to receive a very generous Elizabeth Hammond grant of £5000 from the Costume Society. It has enabled the conservation and rejuvenation of an important man's smoking jacket from the 1880/90s which had suffered significant moth damage and general heavy wear. With its striking silk embroidery in coloured silks, the jacket was a key piece for us in our exploration of late 19th-century dandyism, showing a propensity to exhibit almost feminine and certainly flamboyant decoration by fashionable men in the Oscar Wilde manner. The piece was worn by Richard Somerset, 2nd Baron Raglan, the son of the famous 1st Lord Raglan who campaigned in the Crimean Wars in the 1850s.”

In 2020 it was a project to conserve four 18th-century men’s waistcoats that received a grant. Following conservation, they will be displayed together for the first time at Dorset Museum. Stored in the museum archives for many years due to lack of appropriate display space, they can now be exhibited in a new climate-controlled Artists’ Dorset Gallery.

All the above grants enabled unique and vulnerable items of dress not seen for many years to once more be displayed for research and public enjoyment. Applications can be made at any time and grants will be awarded depending on the funds available. Following the extensive museum closures in 2020-21, the Costume Society currently has £8,000 available grants.

Do you know a special garment waiting for conservation? If so, we would love to hear from you. See the Conservation Grants pages for an Application form and Guidelines and please do let us know if you have any questions at all.

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