An English Lady’s Wardrobe exhibition shows the true extent of one woman’s fascination with shopping in Liverpool

22/10/2019

Emily Tinne’s clothing and accessories collection was so vast, it took almost three years to clear her Aigburth home, with items found in the cellar and in countless tea chests.


The Walker Art Gallery will display more than 70 outfits in a new exhibition that explores shopping and style in Liverpool from 1910 to 1940. An English Lady’s Wardrobe opens on Friday 25th October and runs until 1st March 2020. The exhibition offers a fascinating insight into the life of the wealthy Tinne family by showcasing clothing and accessories belonging to Mrs Emily Margaret Tinne.

The Tinne Collection is the largest collection of a single person’s clothing in any UK gallery. The Walker has displayed numerous items from the collection of the years, but An English Lady’s Wardrobe will be the largest exhibition yet. In addition to Emily Tinne’s clothing it will feature clothing belonging to her children and outfits worn by the family’s servants.

The Walker Art Gallery has also been given access to a large number of letters written by members of the Tinne family. These letters reveal new information about their lives, including what it was like in Liverpool during the Second World War Blitz.

Pauline Rushton, Senior Curator at National Museums Liverpool said: “The Tinne Collection provides a wodnerful snapshot of life in a middle class Liverpool family between the First and Second World Wars. The inclusion of photographs of the family home, along with personal letter, means that visitors will really get to know the Tinnes through the exhibition.

“Emily Tinne’s love of shopping was extraordinary, and her vast wardrobe transports us back to a very different Liverpool. The the prestigious, Parisian-inspired department stores providing made-to-measure services, to the highly skilled tailors, milliners and shoemakers. Liverpool was well equipped to cater to the needs of the wealthy elite living in Britain’s greatest port city.”

What makes this exhibition even more interesting, is that Emily’s family never knew the true extent of her shopping until after her death in 1966. Born in Calcutta, Emily Tinne spent her early childhood living in India where her father was a Presbyterian minister. She later trained to be a domestic science teacher in Edinburgh and moved to Liverpool to live with her uncle, who was a surgeon.

Emily married Dr Philip Frederic Tinne, a Liverpool GP in 1910. Dr Tinne’s family were Dutch sugar merchants and ship owners who had amassed vast amounts of money through the trade. Together Emily and Philip raised 6 children together and spent most of their lives living in Clayton Lodge on Aigburth Road.

The reason for Emily Tinne’s passion for shopping is unknown, but her marriage would certainly have offered new levels of financial freedom as well as more leisure time. Emily was a regular at great Liverpool stores – names which will still to this day associate with the city centre. George Henry Lee’s, Owen Owen, Lewis’s, Cripps and Bon Marche all feature heavily in the exhibition time line – gone but not forgotten.

The exhibition features daywear, evening dresses, outdoor wear, underwear and accessories including jewellery, shoes, hats and handbags. Sumptuous velvet, and fashionable machine-made lace feature in a number of outfits, while others show an Art Deco influence. Emily Tinne’s fascination with shopping in Liverpool was so great, she even bought dresses that weren’t her size.

Fashion lovers, culture vultures and local history fans alike are in for a real treat with this local story that pairs changing trends with family life in Liverpool.

An English Lady’s Wardrobe opens at The Walker Art Gallery on Friday 25th October 2019 and runs until 1st March 2020. Tickets are priced at £9 for adults, £8 for concessions, £2 for children and under 5’s go free. For more information and to get your tickets, head this way. 


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