The crown jewel of the Charles Dickens Museum collection is undoubtedly Dickens’s court suit; described by him as his ‘fancy dress’, this magnificent suit is the only surviving item of his clothing left in the world. Adhering to court dress code, Dickens wore it to a Levée at St James Palace on 16 April 1870, hosted on the Queen’s behalf by Edward, Prince of Wales. The ‘coatee’ style coat is made in dark navy wool with a black silk lining and gilt buttons made by C. Smith and Sons Ltd of Piccadilly. The coat is complemented by trousers of a similar fabric with gold trim, a waist coat and stockings.
With generous support from the Mercers’ Charitable Foundation and the Dickens Fellowship, the Museum are now able to conserve the piece and mount it on a costume mannequin in Dickens’s dressing room, allowing all the details of the suit to be clearly seen. This new presentation will more clearly embody the man who once wore it, giving visitors a unique sense of Dickens’s stature. The suit will be on permanent display in Dickens’s dressing room from April 2017.
Photo and text courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum.