I love my job. I get to meet some interesting people with great stories to tell about the items that have been in thier family for decades, historic treasures that are revered because of the real and living people they once belonged to. Catherine Inchbald, a writer, understands the importance of family tradition, represented in something as simple as a wedding veil. Not just any veil, one of Belgain lace, a particulary fine and light applique lace that was as sought after a hundred years ago as it is today. Kate Middleton wore something remarkably like Hettie's veil to her own wedding to Prince William.
Hettie Jolliffe (Catherine's grandmother) 12 June 1930 Catherine wearing the same veil in 1989
Catherine bought the veil to me for cleaning a few weeks ago after her daughter-in-law-to-be expressed an interest in wearing it to her wedding next year. When she opened the storage box she found a stain that hadn't been there when she put it away so many years ago. It's possible that it came from champange that wasn't visible at the time, but over the years has darkened - if left another 20 years a gaping hole might have formed - organic material will eat away and destroy textiles over time.
Conservation cleaning (if necessary) and correct storage for precious textiles is vital if you want them to be enjoyed by future generations. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Museum grade conservation storage boxes are great for very old and fragile items because they are made completely acid free, which means they won't yellow like ordinary card and seep into the textiles causing irreparable damage.
Luckily I was able to clean Catherine's veil with satisfying results. I was also able to advise her on future care. What I want to know now is will her new daughter in law decide to wear the veil? Only time will tell!
Below and right - veil after cleaning
Stain before cleaning
Kat Middleton's Brussels lace veil
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!