Four Shires

Tuesday, Mar 06th

Last update11:06:45 AM

You are here: Home Out & About Art Exhibition reveals Spencers hidden history of underwear

Exhibition reveals Spencers hidden history of underwear

spandex corset add 1016 x 665
Banbury Museum’s new exhibition 'Revealed: The Underwear Revolution', uncovers the history of underwear.  It tells the hidden story of how underwear has evolved from the Anglo-Saxon linen smock to the modern memory foam bra. 

The exhibition celebrates corset making in Banbury with original documents, photographs and corsets from Spencer (Banbury) Limited.

Cherwell District Council's lead member for environment, Cllr James Macnamara, said; "For many who worked at the Britannia Road site this exhibition will bring back memories. Visitors can hear accounts of life in the Spencer factory during and after the Second World War, recorded earlier this year at the museum’s ‘Times Gone By’ reminiscence group.

Cllr Macnamara added: "The exhibition will appeal to Downton Abbey fans - it's a chance to find out what Lady Grantham might have worn!"

Also on show is a woven blue silk dress, made in 1750, that needed special underwear for support. Other exhibition highlights include a machine-made cage crinoline - a skirt-shaped structure, fashionable in the late nineteenth century. The contraption, which sports 19 spring steel wire hoops, was preserved by conservators before going on show. Children can try on a replica eighteenth century quilted petticoat or Tudor shirt as part of a dressing-up activity.

Sarah Morton, from Oxfordshire County Council, said: "Revealed focuses on how innovation and technology changed what we wore beneath our clothes. It tells a fascinating story and I think people may never think of underwear in the same way again."

Fellow conservator Sam van de Geer presented a behind-the-scenes view of the conservation and display of textiles last Wednesday evening as part of Banbury Museum’s new Museum Plus programme. For more details of this and other activities at the museum visit or phone 01295 753752.

The ‘Revealed’ exhibition is open until 18 February. Entry is free