A remarkable collection of gloves from The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London goes on display at the Fashion Museum in Bath
A glove worn by Queen Elizabeth I at her coronation and a pair of hefty gauntlets worn by Luke Skywalker in the Empire Strikes Back may seem like odd companions, but they are all part of the rich narrative to be found in the wonderfully eclectic, yet tightly focussed collection of The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London.
Formed in 1349 by glove makers in the capital who wished to protect the high standard of their craft, the Worshipful Company was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles I in 1638 and, like many Livery Companies representing London’s ancient and modern trade associations and guilds, they continue to take an active part in city life through charitable-giving, networking and sponsorship.
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But it’s their collection, now cared for by the Fashion Museum in Bath, that tells a story stretching back through the centuries and which matches their motto of True Hearts and Warm Hands.
Glove Stories opens for a year-long tenure at the Fashion Museum from March 1 2019 and features 400 years of garments ranging from the practical and expedient to the fashionable and ceremonial – drawn from one of the best collections of gloves in the world.
150 pairs and single gloves have been woven throughout the A History of Fashion in 100 Objects exhibition at the museum to showcase the breadth and depth of The Glove Collection.
Rosemary Harden, Fashion Museum Manager, says the new display is “a celebration of the long-standing relationship between the Fashion Museum and The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London.”
The Company has loaned their superb Glove Collection to the museum since the 1980s. At one time there were hundreds of glove makers across Britain, centred in the towns and villages of Somerset, Dorset and West Wiltshire.
A key element of the collection is the Spence Collection, a grouping of over 100 single gloves and pairs of mainly 17th century gloves, all carefully collected by artist Robert Spence. Spence trained at the Slade School of Art and collected historical gloves to inform his own artwork.
A Quaker and pacifist, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his work as an ambulance driver during the Great War. Spence donated his collection of gloves to the Worshipful Company in 1959.
“For some years now we have been conscious that different gloves in the collection have been housed in different locations. So, two years ago we set about bringing all the gloves in the collection together under one roof at the Fashion Museum in Bath, so that they can be more easily presented on display and brought to the attention of a wider audience.
“The display will feature groups of gloves and will focus on uncovering unique and different stories, while also celebrating the incredible craftsmanship and skills involved in this often overlooked area of fashion along the way.”
Highlights include exquisitely embroidered gauntlet gloves from the 1620s and a replica of the Coronation Glove worn by Queen Victoria, which joins a Limerick glove made in Ireland in the 1830s: these gloves were favoured by the tiny Victoria and were made of such fine leather that they could be rolled up and kept in a walnut.
More garments made to grace royal appendages come courtesy of The Duke of Edinburgh whose well used carriage-driving gloves date from the 1990s and were made of doeskin leather from the Balmoral estate.
Similarly well-worn are the Star Wars gloves donned by actor Mark Hamill for his battle with the extreme temperatures and Wampa ice monster in the snowy wastes of Planet Hoth in the opening scenes of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
Another ‘intergalactic’ treasure can be seen in the shape of a Soviet Cosmonaut’s glove, worn in 1986 by Colonel Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Volkov, a veteran of three space flights, including twice to the Mir Soviet space station.
The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London is also renowned for its role in supplying monarchs with their coronation gloves and joining the exhibition from July 2019 are two treasures from centuries apart from the Dents Museum and Archive collection, rarely seen on public display.
Queen Elizabeth I’s Coronation Glove was worn by the new young queen at a day-long coronation ceremony in January 1559. Similarly Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation Glove: the original glove worn by Her Majesty the Queen during her coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in June 1953 is displayed with an identical copy, which was a spare made in case of accidents on the day.
From ceremony to utility, at the other end of the glove-making scale visitors will encounter a pair of ‘Multi-Terrain’ Pattern Combat Gloves worn during Operation Herrick in Afghanistan in 2012/2013 by the Logistic Support Team Commander for the 1st Battalion Scots Guards Battlegroup, based in FOB (Forward Operating Base) OULLETTE.
Glove Stories opens at the Fashion Museum Bath March 2 2019 and runs until March 1 2020.
Fashion Museum Bath
The Fashion Museum Bath holds a world-class collection of contemporary and historic dress located in a World Heritage City. The museum was founded by writer and collector Doris Langley Moore as the Museum of Costume, Bath and has been based in Bath’s Grade 1-listed 18th century Assembly Rooms since 1963.…