The Textile Conservation Centre (TCC), University of Southampton, is undertaking a project to locate, document, research and present instances of deliberately concealed garments in buildings.

Read interviews conducted for the project in our oral history section.

Read case studies on specific caches.

This folk practice seems to have been prevalent in Britain and the upper Rhine region for centuries. The practice of concealing shoes has been carefully documented at the Boot and Shoe Collection in Northampton, thanks to the work of June Swann. Ralph Merrifield has also discussed the practice, but little research has been undertaken until now into its origins and nature. Over the years the TCC has conserved some examples of garments found in buildings, for example an early 17th century linen doublet found in a Monumental Stonemason’s shop in Reigate, Surrey – a rare example of working dress.

The Deliberately Concealed Garments Project aims to collate and document finds from all over Britain and beyond, recording instances of garments and other objects that have been found in the fabric and foundations of buildings. The finds will be documented on the TCC’s collection database which will then form the basis of the project’s website. Thus objects from all over the country will be accessible from a central resource as will supporting information.

The project intends to convey the importance of such objects to the museum community, archaeologists, the building/construction trade, scholars and to the public. It is intended that this information (as presented on the internet) will be used as an educational resource by any party interested in folklore practices, historic dress, archaeology and social history.

This project, also aims to demonstrate how a website can be used to make items from disparate collections (i.e. a variety of heritage organisations) and ones owned by private individuals publicly and centrally accessible as a ‘virtual collection’. In addition to making documentation available, the content of the website (text and images) will support the virtual collection by providing information to enhance visitors’ experiences of the site, and propose ideas for further study and exploration of related subjects.

Interested in finding out more? Enquire about the project