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Textiles and costumes

The Oxfordshire Museum Service has been collecting textiles steadily since the 1960s.

The Oxfordshire Museum Service cares for a collection of around 5,000 textile items owned by Oxfordshire County Council and its partner museums. We hold a growing collection of 19th and 20th-century items, with a few rarer examples from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Items include:

  • Items from Oxfordshire’s textile industries, including Witney Blankets, plush, Spencer’s corsets and gloving
  • woking dress; farmworkers’ smocks, fire and police force uniforms, Aluminium Foundry workers' protective clothing and servants' dress
  • friendship, union and society banners
  • ceremonial costumes which include Coronation robes, court dress and academic gowns
  • a varied collection of hats and shoes
  • rare fragments of a medieval cloak or hair shirt
  • mourning clothes of the 19th century
  • domestic items such as quilts, carpets and curtains, samplers and samples of sewing techniques produced by children

We are actively seeking to add to our collections with these items:

  • Oxford Bags – men’s trousers from the 1920s favoured by University of Oxford undergraduates
  • working dress – worn by men and women
  • men’s clothing as worn in everyday life
  • all textiles from the 18th-century items and earlier

Washing symbols for textiles

Wash code labels in garments are primarily used to guide us to the appropriate cleaning methods. Symbol-based wash codes have evolved since 1966 and, because they are standardised, these codes can be used to help date our textile from this period onwards. Before this time there was little or no instruction provided. Download our factsheet (pdf format, 970Kb)

More information

For more information and to arrange a visit, contact us.