The Scotney Queen of Hearts

Crumpled and distorted playing card costume before conservation

For its winter exhibition ‘Inside the Collection’ Scotney Castle celebrates ten years of public access by delving into its own stores for inspiration.  This card-adorned fancy dress costume was recently uncovered in the castle’s costume collection, worn and accumulated by the Hussey family from the late eighteenth century until the house was left to the National Trust in 2006.  The costume, including belt, crown, string of cards and hair nets, not to mention a set of luminous red silk stockings, plus off-cuts of fabric, came to the Zenzie Tinker Conservation studio in Brighton in August for treatment and mounting on a custom-made support.  Its journey from storage box to display in the dining room at Scotney can now be tracked in our recent article for MuseumCrush.

Accessories and fabric offcuts that came with the dress

“Like costume for stage or screen, fancy dress generally has a number of condition issues working against its longevity.  Made for showy effect rather than to withstand the test of time most (but not all) fancy dress costume is poorly constructed of hybrid, recycled materials for one-off use and, as a result, few examples remain in collections.”

Costume mounting and bodice reshaping in progress
Left: Torn card before conservation, Centre: Removed card supported with Japanese tissue paper, Right: Re-inserted card after conservation
Left: Padded mannequin with underpinnings, Right: Playing card costume on mannequin after conservation
Mannequin with custom-made head attached to display crown after conservation

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