Sunday, 10 January 2010

Definitely not all pants!

My attention was caught by this poster advertising a show next month in Budleigh's Public Hall. Surely a hoax? After all, there were objections at some stage to the recent setting up of the town's Film Society in the Public Hall on the grounds that pornographic works might be shown.

And this Knicker Lady show thing seems to be more seaside saucy postcard stuff than Budleigh Salterton's reputation as a genteel watering-place treated so unkindly by Noel Coward & co.

But no. It's a genuine show with an authentic pedigree in the person of classically-trained actress and vicar's wife turned fashion historian Rosemary Hawthorne.

In addition to winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as a RADA medallist, she was also awarded the coveted Costume Prize... which is where it all started, says her website. And actually, Budleigh is quite an appropriate location for the show, given our Fairlynch Museum's well-known reputation for its superb costume collection.
Above: Fairlynch Museum in Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton

Rosemary cultivated her passion for unusual historical clothing and its sociological link to the last two centuries, becoming a well respected fashion historian. With little being documented about the history of underwear, she emerged as a leading authority.

Her first book, Knickers: An Intimate Appraisal (1991), was a huge success and became the gospel on everything from pantaloons and pantalettes to divided drawers and bloomers.

Armed with her stage props of historical bloomers and bras, known as The Rosemary Hawthorne Collection and a large helping of wit, Rosemary’s reputation quickly grew and The Knicker Lady was born! Radio and television regularly request an audience with Rosemary and her box of surprises.

It's now described as "a hit show that romps through the history of the humble knicker with a tempo and hilarity that leaves audiences, both male and female, spellbound and dying for more!"

"Surrounded by old suitcases, boxes and hat stands, Rosemary delves through two hundred and fifty years of bloomers, briefs and bustles and presents the myriad of colourful characters that wore them, in a unique and enigmatic style of her own.

Audiences are transported back to the muslin clad elegance of Jane Austen’s England, the corset bound nineteenth century, the suffragettes and daring darlings of the roaring twenties. With charismatic vivacity The Knicker Lady scrutinises, like never before, the liberty bodice, school knickers, the mighty Y-front and much much more... there isn’t a brief left unturned!"

The Knicker Lady performs on Friday 26 February 2010 at 8.00 pm in Budleigh Salterton Public Hall. Tickets are £12 unreserved, available from Tourist Information Tel: 01395 445275
For more information see the website at

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