Summer memories of childhood – places to visit and activities for the school holidays
Whilst preparing a summer promotion for my childrens nightwear, I remembered some of the places I used to visit in the long school holidays with my children when they were younger. One of our favourite museums was the V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA. Open daily 10 – 5.45, admission free. www.vam.ac.uk/moc/
They have a programme of activities and exhibitions and children will love the range of toys, old and new including some lovely dolls houses and there are plenty of hands on activities.
The Museum holds a collection of around 100 dolls’ houses, models and shops, we can learn a lot about how people used to live by looking into these miniature worlds.
Mr Potato Head
The invention of New York born George Lerner, Mr Potato Head was launched by the toy company Hasbro in 1952. the original Mr Potato Head contained only parts, such as eyes, ears, noses and mouths, and parents had to supply their children with real potatoes for the head. Over the next three decades, a variety of Mr Potato Head products were sold including Mrs Potato head and two children, Spud and sister Yam.
Mr Potato Head has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, due in part to his appearance as one of the characters in the enormously popular animated feature films Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. The Mr Potato Head pictured is the British version was made by Peter Pan Toys in 1960.
They also have a wonderful clothing collection which includes over 6000 garments and accessories worn by children from birth up to their teenage years. One of my favourite is this beautiful smocked dress because it is reminiscent of the beautiful hand smocked dresses my mother made for my sisters and me – we have kept some of them as they are now heirlooms, our own daughters have worn them and they are now waiting to be passed down to the next generation!
Patchwork dress, 1942 V & A Museum collection
Another passion of mine is patchwork and quilting, a selection of quilts are available on the Damask website: www.damask.co.uk
One of the dresses in the museum’s collection is a patchwork dress made for a little girl called Jane by her mother in 1942 after an unexpected invitation to a children’s party. By this stage of the Second World War, parties were unusual as there were significant food shortages and many children had been separated from family and friends after being evacuated.
At this time, new party dresses would have been very difficult to obtain as clothing was rationed, and cost money as well as precious coupons.
The night before the party, after Jane had gone to bed, her mother collected every spare scrap of fabric she could find. In the morning, Jane’s patchwork party dress (pictured) was ready: her mother had cleverly made a dress using all the scraps of fabric.
This also reminded me of some of the classic children’s books by Mary Cicely Barker my daughter Lucy used to enjoy, featuring fairies and wood land creatures – a perenially popular theme with little girls. Inspiration for the embroidery on my nightwear designs, ‘Titania’ and ‘Tinkerbell’ came from some of these delightful books and illustrations including:
‘Wee Forest Folk – Fairy Circle’
‘The Fairy Orchestra’ by Cicely Mary Barker
‘Titania’ fairy embroidered pure cotton nightdress available from: http://www.damask.co.uk
Until the end of August, Damask have a 30% off sale on their traditional childrens nightwear.
Damask specialise in beautiful childrens nightwear. Our exclusive embroideries feature perenially popular themes such as fairies, ballerinas, racing cars and aeroplanes.
We use fine quality fabrics in white cotton lawn for girls and wovens for boys.
All nightdresses are treated with flame retardant finish to comply with BS5722. All nightwear is finished to a high standard using only the best quality trims and buttons and is machine washable at 40°C. Styling is traditional with generous sizing that starts from age 3 upto 8 years. The nightwear collection comprises nightdresses and pyjamas.
Another museum dedicated to children is:
The Museum of Childhood. 42 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TG.
Open 10 – 5 Mon – Sat, Sun 12-5pm. Free entry.
The Museum of Childhood is a fun day out for the whole family. Young people can learn about the children of the past and see a fantastic range of toys and games, while adults enjoy a trip down memory lane.
They will enjoy finding out about growing up through the ages, from toys and games to health and school days. Hands-on activities, including a puppet theatre and dressing up area, together with our fantastic museum shop, help to make your visit a memorable one.
The Museum of Childhood’s costume collection contains over 2,500 items of clothing. These range from dainty christening robes to sturdy sandals and dressing up costumes.
The costume collection covers baby clothes, boys’ and girls’ ‘best’ clothes, school uniforms, society uniforms and all sorts of other clothes and accessories.
Visitors to the Museum can see ‘children’ dressed in their party clothes, school uniform and fancy dress. These outfits are only a fraction of the collection, which covers everything from sailor suits to cowboy hats.
They have lots of baby clothes from the period 1880 to 1930, including beautifully-made christening robes. Baby clothes were often kept for sentimental reasons, and many of their christening robes have been passed down through families for generations.
Amongst clothes for older children, there are lots of party or ‘best’ dresses for girls and Highland outfits or sailor suits for boys. They have more girls’ clothes than boys’, as they tended to last longer, and their prettiness made them hard to part with.
In 1997, the Museum acquired a wonderful collection from a former television costume designer. It is made up of childrens everyday clothes and shoes from the early to mid-20th century – the sorts of things that weren’t kept, and so have become rare.
They don’t just have clothes in the collection. Their accessories collection includes fans, bags, purses, jewellery, muffs, parasols and hair ornaments, many of which reflect adult fashions.
A model aeroplane made from Meccano and inspiration for our boy’s pyjama called ‘Biggles’
‘Biggles’ aeroplane boys pyjama http://www.damask.co.uk
- The National Trust Museum of Childhood is a delight for all ages with something for everyone. Children can discover something new, or relive nostalgic memories by exploring the childhoods of times gone by, make stories and play with toys. You can be a chimney sweep, a scullion or a Victorian pupil, and enjoy interactive displays.