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Tom Heslewood Collection

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This material is held at V&A Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128
Dates of Creation undated
Name of Creator Tom Heslewood
Language of Material English
Physical Description 12 boxes (122 items, 3 folders and 1 volume)

Scope and Content

This collection contains designs and reference material scrapbooks compiled by Tom Heselwood, as well as a copy of the play-text of Charles I (author unknown).

Administrative / Biographical History

Tom Heslewood, born in 1868, was a British actor and costume designer. His fist stage appearance was at London's Shaftesbury Theatre, 1893, as Wilton Ken in Sheridan Le Fanu's Uncle Silas.

During his career as a designer he designed such costumes and scenery as those for Where the Rainbow Ends, General John Regan and Anthony in Wonderland for Charles Hawtrey and Princess Clementina, The Grand Seigneur and Hamlet for H.B Irving.

Heslewood knew the great actor Henry Irving personally, and was also well aquianted with both of Irving's sons; Harry Brodribb (H.B) and Laurence Irving. He was eventually to acquire most of Irving's stage costumes after his death. Upon the 50th anniversary of Irving's death (1938) he presented a selection of the costumes to the Museum of London, the bulk having previously gone to the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford. In 1955 it was decided that the costumes at Stratford would also be moved to London on a permanent loan. In 2011 all of Heslewood's Irving costumes were acquired by the V&A's Theatre and Performance department.

In the latter part of his career Heslewood acted in films including Peg of Old Drury (1935) and Victoria the Great (1937).

Tom Heslewood died in 1959.


The original working order of the archive has been maintained where appropriate and some items have been grouped according to subject. The archive has been divided into the following series:

  • THM/128/1 - Costume Designs
  • THM/128/2 - British Monarchy and Assorted Subjects Reference Scrapbooks.
  • THM/128/3 - Garnerey Costume Reference Prints
  • THM/128/4 - Flag Reference Prints and Designs
  • THM/128/5 - Reference Ephemera
  • THM/128/6 - Charles I Play-Text
  • THM/128/7 - Queen Henrietta Maria Print

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Acquisition Information

This collection combines two separate gift donations from 1989 and 1990.


No further accruals are expected.


Costume Design -- Great Britain
Costume Designers -- Great Britain

Personal Names

Irving, Henry. Sir ( 1838-1905)
Heslewood, Tom. ( 1868 - 1959)

Cataloguing Info

Title Tom Heslewood Collection
Creation Created by Veronica Castro using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2011-07-21

Costume Designs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128/1
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 1 box (92 items)

Scope and Content

92 original Haslemere costume designs for various productions; some signed, all undated. Designs are pencil, ink and paint sketches on cartridge paper and tracing paper, and range in size from 19x28cm - 29x44cm. Most are full colour with 6 being pencil sketches only.

They vary in style from classical to caricature, and feature lone garments, lone figures in costume and groups of characters.

A select number are annotated with character names and act numbers. A few also have fabric swatches attached.

Administrative / Biographical History

These folders contain Heslewood original costume designs.

Reference Scrapbooks

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128/2
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 9 boxes (29 items)

Scope and Content

29 scrapbooks all containing some or all of the following costume reference material; colour and black and white image plates, articles, sketches and related ephemera. The front cover of each book is labelled in pencil.. All folders are 39x59cm.

The folders are split into two groups:

British Monarchy

These folders consist of 24 scrapbooks, each covering a different period in the history of the British monarchy. The front cover of each is labelled in pencil, and most have surviving numbers on the 'spines'. Together they span from 1066 until the 1860s. Some monarchs such as Richard II, Henry VII and Elizabeth I have their own dedicated books.

Assorted Subjects

5 scrapbooks covering the following subjects; 'The Clergy', 'Children', 'Louis IV & Court' 'Stuart Furniture 1603-1714' and 'Georgian Furniture 1714-1800'. The front cover of each is labelled in pencil.

Garnerey Costume Reference Prints

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128/3
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder consists of 23 costume design prints, all undated and labelled 'Dessine par Garnerey'. All are full colour and depict French characters of high military or political rank.

Flag Reference Prints and Designs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128/4
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 2 folders

Scope and Content

These folders consists of:

  • 8 reference prints of examples of battalion insignias and penants; all black and white, unsigned and undated.
  • 25 flag designs; all full colour, unsigned and undated. All designs feature the flags being held by a soldier in French uniform. Some are annotated in pencil with dates or names.

These items were originally kept in a folder entitled Flags of the Revolutionary Period .

Reference Ephemera

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128/5
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains the following:

  • 4x black and white photo postcards from the National Portrait Gallery featuring portraits of the following: Henry Irving, Thomas Henry Huxley, Frederick Lord Leighton and George Meredith. All undated.
  • 7x costume reference image plates. All images are black and white and all are undated.
  • One black and white print detailing the products grown for export in France including flowers, spices and foodstuffs. Unsigned, the print covers the years 1789-1792.

Charles I Play-Text

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128/6
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 1 box (1 volume)

Scope and Content

Typed text of the play Charles I (possibly by W.G.Wills, but uncredited) pasted into a volume, each page faced with reference images of dress in his reign. Volume features a full colour book plate on first page.

Reference images consist mostly of sepia prints but do include a small number of sketches and photographs. The volume also includes a number of newspaper clippings of articles on the King Charles statue in Whitehall. These are from unknown publications and are undated.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Volume measures 36x46 cm.

Queen Henrietta Maria Print

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/128/7
Dates of Creation 1929
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

This folder contains a sepia-tint print of Queen Henrietta Maria, measuring 39x48cm. The print features a cloth covering with the following written in ink: "The portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria used by Dame Ellen Terry to make up from. Given me by Edie Craig, 1 Nov 1929. TH."

Personal Names

Terry, Ellen. Dame ( 1847-1928)
Craig, Edith. ( 1869-1947)