Jay Blades and the team mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee by bringing four treasured heirlooms with a royal connection back to life.
Amongst the barn’s arrivals today are a royal pair in their own right. Diane Gould and her son Terry come from a long line of London pearly kings and queens. The pearly tradition of sewing decorative patterns of buttons on to suits to help raise money for charity started in Victorian times, but grew out of a much older custom. In each London borough, market traders, or costermongers, elected coster kings and queens who would collect money to help those who had fallen on hard times. Diane has brought in a suit that belonged to her late father Alf, and now her son Terry is keen to carry on the family tradition and make his first suit. Unfortunately, Alf didn’t have time to finish this suit, so Diane and Terry are hoping the admirable sewing skills of the barn’s teddy bear duo, Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell, can create something fit for royalty!
Next, a treasured item that has kept watch over royal treasures for over 100 years. Peter McGowran is chief of the Tower of London Yeoman Warders, also known as the Beefeaters. He has brought with him a very special lantern steeped in royal tradition that is still in use every day at the tower. The lantern is a key part of the Ceremony of the Keys, during which the warders lock up the tower, and the Crown Jewels, every night. But now the lantern is beginning to show signs of its daily use for over a century, and the huge responsibility for restoring this national treasure falls to horologist Steve Fletcher and stained-glass expert Matt Nickels.
Ceramics conservator Kirsten Ramsay works on a hand-painted commemorative plate made to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. The plate arrives with Helen Ringland, part of a pair that have been in her family for as long as she can remember. The plates are believed to have been painted by a distant relative to be displayed in Newcastle’s Royal Jubilee Exhibition over 130 years ago. These plates are one of the few things Helen has from her father’s side of the family, but an unfortunate decorating accident left this one in several pieces. Although Helen’s father attempted to glue it back together at the time, it needs the talents of Kirsten to repair the damage and restore the plate back to pride of place on display in Helen’s home.
Finally, a bicycle made for two is wheeled in by John Phillips. This unusual tandem was created by welding two normal bikes together back in 1977, the Queen’s silver jubilee year. To mark the occasion, John painted the bike red, white and blue before embarking on a tour of France with his wife Deborah. The bike hasn’t been ridden for many years, but after Deborah’s recent death, John wants to restore the bike to working order and get back in the saddle to raise money for charity in her memory. With so much work to do, both the barn’s bike expert Tim Gunn and metal maestro Dominic Chinea have a job on their hands to get this bike back on track in time for this year’s jubilee celebrations!