Bargain Hunting at Sandown Park Racecourse

Earlier this year Elmbridge Museum was invited to bring a selection of objects from its collection to share with the BBC Bargain Hunt team during filming at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher. We delved into the archive to cherry pick a group of objects that tell the story of some of the borough’s former inhabitants and decided to focus on fashion.

However, with approximately 4500 items of costume in the museum collection and 800 fashion accessories, many hours of research and visits to the store were required before we settled on a group of 18 objects spanning two centuries from the 1760s to the 1960s.

Every object chosen tells a story about the development of fashion in Elmbridge during this period and many of the objects are linked to a particular individual in the borough, from a farmer’s wife to the Duchess of York to a World War Two Air Raid Warden.

12 June 2023
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Watch a clip from the episode

In this clip Museum Manager, Ellie Darton-Moore, speaks to Bargain Hunt presenter Natasha Raskin Sharp, about a selection of fashion accessories from Elmbridge Museum's collection.

Scroll down to find out more about this fascinating collection of objects.


  • Madame Pompadour Silk Brocade Shoes
  • Black Silk Slipper

Starting in the 18th century we looked at this beautiful pair of pink and white silk brocade shoes which were donated to the museum in the 1950s. They feature a Louis XV heel and are of the Pompadour style named after his mistress, friend and advisor, Madame Pompadour.

These examples are machine stitched and date to around 1760 at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The introduction of the stitching machine meant that footwear and clothing which had previously been hand-sewn could now be mass produced in a much shorter time. This drove down prices, which eventually allowed ordinary families access to more affordable goods.

These shoes would have been worn by a stylish Georgian lady and it is likely that she would have worn a dress in the same fabric to match her footwear. Shoes like these were intended to be worn indoors as they would not remain in such beautiful condition had they been exposed to British weather, though they have sadly lost their buckles. Fashions changed and from 1790, buckles lost popularity and shoe flaps were tied with ribbons instead. It was common between 1600 and 1800 for shoes to be made as ‘straights’ which coincided with the emergence of the high heel. It was difficult for shoemakers to produce mirror-image shoe lasts and so they would have been made to the same design and then moulded by the wearer.

We also looked at a slightly later footwear example dating to 1810. This black silk slipper was reputed to have been work by the Duchess of York and it was collected by Dr Eric Gardner, the museum’s very first curator. The Duchess of York, Frederica Charlotte Ulrica Catherina (1767-1822), took up permanent residency at Oatlands House from 1794 after she became estranged from her husband, Prince Frederick. Her primary passion was for her pets and she created a dog cemetery in the grounds of the house in which were laid to rest over 70 treasured companions. She is remembered at the York column located on Monument Green in Weybridge, the inscription of which reads:

“This column was erected by the inhabitants of Weybridge and its vicinity on the 6th day of August 1822 by voluntary contribution. In token of their sincere esteem and regard for her late Royal Highness the most excellent and illustrious Frederica Charlotte Ulrica Catherina, Duchess of York.
Who resided for upwards of thirty years at Oatlands in this parish, exercising every Christian virtue and died, universally regretted, on the 6th day of August 1820.”

Although this shoe appears to be very plain and not befitting the status of a Duchess, simple pumps were the most popular evening and formal shoe for women throughout the first half of the 19th century.

Engraving depicting the Duchess of York
Historic postcard showing the York Monument at the foot of Monument Hill

Oberon Men's Best Garters

59.1970 Oberon Mens Best GartersAlthough most of the fashion accessories in the museum’s collection belonged to women, we were keen to include an example of an item owned by men.

This is the packaging for Oberon Men’s Best Garters in Boston Style which date from 1890 to 1925. The box includes a diagram of how the garters would be worn. They were an essential part of a gentleman’s wardrobe as stockings in the Victorian period were knitted and did not hold themselves up like the elasticated socks we wear today. This was only made possible due to the invention of Lastex elasticated thread in the 1930s. To prevent a gentleman from stockings sagging around his ankles, garters were adjustable to the wearer’s leg and helped keep his outfit neatly in place. Men’s garters were usually made of silk and came in a variety of colours.

59.1970 Oberon Mens Best Garters box59.1970 Oberon Mens Best Garters


58.1977/40 Handkerchief scarf

Handkerchief scarf

The next object is a handkerchief scarf in cream fine wool printed with the words ‘West Surrey General Benefit Society. Presented to Members at the Jubilee, June 1896’.

Benefit societies, sometimes called friendly societies, were founded during the Victorian period to provide financial assistance to members in need, for example, those affected by ill-health, unemployment or old age. These societies were set up all over the country and grew rapidly in popularity, so that by the end of the 19th century half of all adult males were members of a society.

This scarf was owned and worn by Miss Mitchell who married a local farmer in the 1880s, and it was produced to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee marking 60 years on the throne.

White Suede Gloves

These stylish white suede gloves belonged to Nesta Llewellyn, the daughter of John Llewellyn who co-founded Liberty & Co in 1875.

Born in 1895, Nesta enjoyed a successful creative career in music. She studied piano with Evelyn Howard-Jones at the Royal Academy and later, in the 1920s, joined Dorotha Vincent, Lilian Gaskell and other successful artists on the staff of the Howard-Jones (later, the Howard-Jones Sammons) School of Music. She remained a close friend of Howard-Jones throughout his life and, with her sister Enid, nursed him during his final days.

Nesta may have worn these gloves along with beautiful ballgowns to many of the glitzy parties, concerts and evening events she attended and performed at. She gave her first pianoforte recital at the Wigmore Hall in 1924, returning subsequently on numerous occasions and giving her last recital there in 1958.

She retired to St George’s Hill in Weybridge for the last 30 years of her life. Here, she concentrated on recording, in the form of both private Long Playing records and tapes, thereby creating for her many friends and admirers a permanent legacy of her long career and musical talent.

On the following pages you can see a selection of concert programmes and press notices relating to Nesta’a recitals in the 1920s and 1930s.

White Suede Gloves
1.1980/110d Recital programmeProgramme for a pianoforte recital by Nesta Llewellyn at the Howard-Jones: Sammons School of Music, on 4th July 1934. Works include Mozart, Tomasi, Hugo Wolf and Chopin.
1.1980/109a Press NoticesA publicity leaflet, entitled 'Nesta Llewellyn - Press Notices'.
1.1980/109a Press NoticesThe leaflet contains press notices from the following publications - The Daily Telegraph, Western Mail, Daily Express, Era, The Lady, Northern Whig, Belfast News Letters, Irish News and Belfast Telegraph.
1.1980/109a Press Notices
1.1980/110a Wigmore Hall programmeProgramme for the first pianoforte recital by Nesta Llewellyn at the Wigmore Hall, London, on 15th December 1924.
1.1980/110a Wigmore Hall programme
1.1980/110b Wigmore Hall programmeProgramme for the reappearance pianoforte recital of Nesta Llewellyn at the Wigmore Hall, London, on 19th April.
1.1980/110b Wigmore Hall programmeProgramme detailed on reverse and includes works by Rameau, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy and Chopin.

Victorian Parasols

Elmbridge Museum cares for approximately 50 parasols in its collection, the majority dating from the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

Parasols were introduced to Europe in the 17th century. At the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, parasols were quite plain, however by the 1850s they had become increasingly elaborate and often incorporated tassels and frills. They were not made to withstand adverse weather but instead acted as a fashion accessory, often matching the wearer’s outfit, and were designed to protect women’s skin from the harmful effects of the sun and maintain a pale complexion, which was desirable at the time. Many parasols at this time were made of delicate materials such as silk, lace and paper which were vulnerable to damage through repeat use or poor storage, and the remarkable condition of the parasols in the museum’s collection is testament to their place as prized possessions of the original owners.

Bamboo parasol This example dates to the 1890s and was made in Japan.

It must have been owned by a wealthy Victorian lady and rarely used as it is in excellent condition.

It is made of bamboo and paper and features a design of two cream roses, a butterfly and a wide cream band.

The parasol has a double lining in cream satin with a pink scalloped edge and two cream silk tassels.

The stick is of carved light oak with a crook handle and it also has a crooked carved ferrule.

Lace parasol This example dates to the 1880s. It is made of cream lace, with net embroidery and a cream cut-work frill.


  • History
  • Gill family brooch
  • HMS Victory brooch
  • Sweetheart brooch

It was difficult to choose which brooches to present to the Bargain Hunt team as there are around 50 beautiful examples in the museum’s collection. These date mainly dating from the 19th and 20th centuries but there is also a Roman and a medieval example.

Brooches were originally an exclusive accessory for men and were used to fasten garments and items of clothing. It was not until the Middle Ages that women also began to wear brooches, and Queen Elizabeth I is thought to have popularised the wearing of brooches as a fashion statement.

During the Victorian era Roman-style cameo brooches became popular with designs featuring a mythological scene or a face in profile. Queen Victoria frequently wore jewellery and had a number of favourite pieces including a sapphire and diamond brooch given to her by Prince Albert in 1840 to celebrate their wedding. Following Albert’s death, it is widely known that Queen Victoria remained in mourning for the rest of her life, her wardrobe consisted of black clothing and diamond jewellery.

The Gill family moved to Apps Court, Walton-on-Thames in 1855. They left behind a fascinating collection of artwork, domestic items and personal effects which together tell the fascinating story of a complex family living locally during the Victorian period.

This piece of jewellery has both a pin at the back and a ring at the top for use as a brooch or pendant. The piece consists of a sheet of blue enamel with a pattern of dots and wavy lines showing through from beneath. The enamel is edged with a row of colourless, faceted, diamond-like stones. Upon the enamel are the initials ‘J.N’ created with similar, but much smaller, stones.

We don’t know who within the Gill family owned this piece, but its luxurious appearance and personalisation would have certainly displayed the wearer’s wealth and status.

Discover more in the Treasures of the Gill Family online exhibition

This brooch dates from 1905. It was given to Elmbridge Museum in the 1980s by a resident of Weybridge.

It takes the form of HMS Victory which was built in 1759 at Chatham Dockyard and became Nelson’s flagship in 1803. Nelson was famously shot and mortally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805, an important victory for the British over the French and Spanish in the Napoleonic Wars.

The reverse reads ‘Centenary Memento of the Death of Nelson. The Gift of the Lords of the Admiralty to British and Foreign Sailors Society. ER VII’. It is believed to contain copper from HMS Victory.

This is a love brooch, also called a sweetheart brooch. These were commonly given by soldiers to their loved ones, be it a partner, parent or child, when they had to leave for the front line. These brooches were mainly manufactured in London and Birmingham from the 1880s and peaked in popularity around the time of the First World War. They were worn by relatives as a symbol of good luck and a form of remembrance. We don’t know exactly when this example dates to or who wore it. It is silver hallmark with a cut-out flower design and features the words ‘Forget Me Not’ on the front.

Red velvet bag

22.1984/1 Red velvet bag

The 1920s was a decade of change and transition in between world wars with society opening up in new ways. In 1918 the Representation of the People Act extended the vote to all men over 21 and most women over 30, and finally in 1928 women aged over 21 were also granted the right to vote. During the First World War many women had contributed to the war effort, for example, by working in factories, and this newfound empowerment was reflected in post-war fashions. In the mid-1920s a dropped waist, shorter hemline and cropped haircut became increasingly common.

This red velvet bag from the 1920s was donated to Elmbridge Museum in the 1980s having been used by the donor’s grandmother and great-grandmother. It is an eminently practical accessory and was clearly much valued.

The inside is lined with red satin and it has pleated pockets on each side of purse, and an upright frame in between. One side contains a red satin clipped purse; while the other side is fitted with a mirror, bone and white metal propelling pencil, silver tipped glass bottle, bone and white metal boot hook, and a white metal thimble. Given the material this was probably an evening bag and may well have had a pair of gloves to match.

World War Two Footwear

265.1986/2 Civil Defence shoes

This pair of shoes were used by the donor in her role as an Air Raid Warden in the Monument Green area of Weybridge. They are made of leather and marked on instep “5L”. c.1941-42.

272.1989/2 Land Girls boots

A pair of size 6 black boots issued to Land Girls during the Second World War, manufactured by Stead and Simpson. They were owned by Mrs Ball. c.1945.

These two pairs of shoes were owned by women who contributed to the war effort in Elmbridge during the Second World War.

In December 1941 Parliament passed a second National Service Act which conscripted unmarried women between the ages of 20 and 30 to either work in industry or join an auxiliary service such as the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) or the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). During the course of the war 1.9 million people volunteered in the Civil Defence Service which changed its name to the Air Raid Precautions Service (ARP) in 1941. Some of the duties of an Air Raid Warden were to assist civilians in reaching shelters, ensure that blackouts were observed, and take turns fire watching.

Vast numbers of local women grew vegetables across the borough’s extensive farmland including at Bell Farm in Hersham and Rivernook Farm in Walton. Here the Women’s Land Army often worked alongside Prisoners of War who co-existed happily within the community.

The 1960s fashion scene presented a reaction to the austerity and rationing which had been experienced during the Second World War. By the end of the decade hats were no longer an essential part of one's outfit and were more commonly worn on special occasions. Elmbridge Museum cares for over 100 hats in its collection of many different styles including beret, turban, toque, panama, trilby, cloche, pillbox, bowler, homburg and baker boy!

1960s Hats

Ladies pink tulle hat - ruched and pleated over stiffened crown form. It is trimmed on front with individual and sprays of imitation material flowers of blue, mauve, pink and yellow c.1960s.

Black velour deep crown hat with black silk ribbon. Fortnum and Mason white oval hat box with gold band and yellow ribbon. This hat was donated by a Cobham resident whose mother-in-law had worn it while shopping in London c.1960s.

Ladies dark grey to beige shaded ruched and pleated tulle over net and stiffened crown.

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