Visitor: Good afternoon. I've come to visit your Opinions Day.
Museum Staff: Ah yes. Can you tell me what you've brought in?
Visitor: Yes it's a piece of fabric that goes back to the early Victorian era and I'd just like to have it authenticated.
Museum Staff: Well then I'll send you to the Textiles Department.
Visitor: That's great, thank you very much indeed.
Museum Staff: I'll show you on the map where to go. You are, at the moment, here.
If you walk straight down this gallery back to the doorway behind me,you'll go through an archway and you'll see this staircase on your right.
When you get to the top of that there's a large door with a bell marked 'Textiles'. Ring the bell.
Visitor: Thank you very much for your help.
Museum Staff: You're very welcome, take the map.
Visitor: Thanks very much indeed.
Visitor: Good afternoon. I've come for a meeting at the Opinions Day?
Museum Staff: Yes. If you'd like to take a seat. You have to sign in.
Visitor: Yes, sure. Thank you
Lucy Pratt: This is Linda Parry.
Visitor: Hello Linda, very nice to meet you. Thank you very much indeed.
Linda Parry: Ooh, what do we have here?
Visitor: This is in the family. We believe it's early Victorian. My mother's side of the family came from the Welsh borders, if that is of any help to you.
Linda Parry: It's actually rather an unusual shape. There's lots of different variation.
Visitor: We believe it's from the early eighteen hundreds. We've got no provenance or anything, it's just information that has been passed down.
Linda Parry: It's very large. The fact that it's large means it's almost certainly later rather than early 19th Century.
Visitor: And what is the material?
Linda Parry: It's a fine cotton gauze.
Visitor: A fine cotton gauze. OK.
Linda Parry: And it's certainly British production and the colouring is very British as well. The whole shawl industry is really very interesting in Britain because when it started out the most popular ones were woven, which were very expensive. And they copied the Indian, the Kashmir shawls, which were being imported into the country. But the actual printing industry in Britain, which was centred on Lancashire, certainly produced a lot of these things but there were also printed in other parts of Britain. So there was quite a big industry for the 30 or 40 years when shawls were really, really popular. So shawls and crinolines, shawls and wide skirts, go very much together.
Visitor: Might it have been something that you might have worn around the skirt?
Linda Parry: I think it would work. If you see it in terms of this being mid-way round your back. In fact, would you mind just trying?
Visitor: No, not at all.
Linda Parry: If you think you've got a massively wide skirt on.
Linda Parry: And this over there and that over there. And then this literally just sits on the crinoline.
Visitor: Yes, I see what you mean.
Linda Parry: And what it does... So it does fall quite well and if we do it like this, you've got a massive wide skirt. What it does do is that semi-circle I was talking about. So you get this rather nice semi-circular effect draping down the skirt. And the skirt would have been very wide.
Visitor: Yes. It's just so fine, isn't it? It's so lovely.
Linda Parry: It's very nicely done - it's very beautifully printed. But it could have come from Scotland there were certainly printing concerns doing shawls in Scotland but also the Lancashire trade as well.
Visitor: And do you think they drew their inspiration from the Indian weaves?
Linda Parry: Yes. All the motifs copy Kashmiri motifs, such as the Boteh, which is what we think of as the traditional paisley shape. It would have been a substantial purchase in itself, and something you would have treasured for a long time.
Visitor: Is this a piece that the Museum might be interested in housing?
Linda Parry: Well, we do actually have a really, really good, comprehensive collection of shawls. But I do think it is of museum standard. So it would be a very interesting acquisition for the right collection.
Visitor: Well, we would be delighted to donate it to a collection.
Linda Parry: Well, we need to think who we should suggest, Lucy. The main dress collections in Britain are in Manchester, and Bath and in London. And I would have thought that if either the Museum of Costume in Bath, or in Manchester, don't have a shawl of this type they might well be interested.
Linda Parry: But we could certainly let you have the names and addresses of colleagues.
Visitor: I'd be delighted if you could. That would be wonderful.
Lucy Pratt: We've got a list you can have.
Visitor: That would be wonderful. And that's something I could take away this afternoon? That's fantastic Lucy, thank you.
That's wonderful, thank you very much indeed.
Linda Parry: Pleasure.
Visitor: And thank you for your time today.
Museum Staff: This is a list of related dress collections in the country. We have London and the Southeast, and other parts of the country.
Visitor: That's very comprehensive isn't it?
Visitor: I found it very useful indeed. Also, even if it amounts to nothing at the end of the day in terms of finding it a happy home, which is what I'd like to find, I think it's nice from my grandmother's point of view, that down through the generations we are still showing an interest in pieces that belonged to the family and the fact that the Museum has also shown an interest.
Visitor: That's fantastic. Thank you so much for your help. I've got plenty to do now. Thank you. Bye!