This 18th century tartan frock coat is fairly remarkable in its own right. But it becomes even more fascinating when you discover that it’s associated with Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.
I’ve been working on this jacket for the upcoming exhibition Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, which opens at the National Museum of Scotland on 23 June. It’s surreal to think I’ve worked so closely with an item linked to one of the nation’s most recognisable historical figures.
The jacket once belonged to a prominent Jacobite family, and was donated to the museum in 1979. But it was soiled, dusty and a bit sad looking when we first received it in conservation. The silk velvet was worn, areas of fabric had been cut off and the buttons were missing, so it needed a lot of work.
It’s crucial any conservation work we do doesn’t compromise the shape or appearance of the original garment, so before cleaning it I tested the velvet, the wool, the metal thread in the button holes and the colours in the tartan to ensure that none of the dyes would bleed. This enabled us to carry out a conservation cleaning treatment that really improved the appearance of the jacket.
Helping preserve these textiles for future generations has been brilliant. I’m certain visitors will be thrilled by the exhibition.
You can see the frock coat in the exhibition Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, kindly sponsored by Baillie Gifford Investment Managers. Visit www.nms.ac.uk/jacobites to find out more.