Whimsical Walker's costume
Late 19th century to early 20th century
Museum no. S.279-1977
In 1886, the clown, Whimsical Walker, was commanded to perform for Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle along with his performing donkey, Tom. He had this wool suit made especially. The frills and baggy trousers resemble the costumes of 19th century Clowns such as Grimaldi, who concealed an extraordinary range of objects (and occasionally live animals) in their vast pockets. On the day, Tom performed the first part of the show beautifully, but then became distracted by the strange smell of the floor, and did nothing but sniff the ground and make faces, much to Whimsical Walker's embarrassment. After the performance, the Queen asked to see Tom outside as she was very fond of animals. She touched Tom's back with a stick and he broke out into a rendition of 'The Conquering Hero Comes'. Fortunately the Queen was not amused by his braying and kicking and ordered him to be taken away.