How and where was the Reigate cache discovered?
Left: The Reigate doublet in a purpose made mount and a replica now displayed at J. Stoneman and Sons showroom
The Reigate cache of two concealed objects was discovered in 1990, in a shop in Reigate. The funeral directors and monumental stonemasons, J.Stoneman and Sons own the shop. The shop was undergoing a re-fit at the time the cache was found concealed: a doublet and an inkwell.
The cache was located above the ingle-nook fireplace behind the main beam, between the ground floor and first floor. The fireplace is a common location for concealed objects to be found. When found the doublet was crumpled and dirty; it was first thought to be a sack, but recognised as a garment because of the buttons.
What reaction did the discovery of the cache provoke?
The owner luckily recognised that the doublet and inkwell may be of some significance and took them to curator Kay Staniland of the Museum of London for identification. The Textile Conservation Centre was contacted by the Museum of London for advice. Conservator Dinah Eastop examined the doublet and later took the doublet on as a student research project. The interest in the doublet was primarily founded on the fact that it appeared to be an item of working class dress, of which there are very few surviving examples. In the area above the ingle-nook fireplace the doublet would have been protected from some of the environmental conditions that cause textiles to decay; the area would have been dark and dry and the surrounding stone and wood, would have buffered temperature changes.
Susan Stanton undertook the research project at The Textile Conservation Centre from 1994-1995. Examination of the materials and construction of the doublet confirmed the preliminary dating to the early 17th century. Research into the age of the building in which the doublet was found supports this conclusion. Despite the doublet’s crumpled, dirty and degraded state, careful research was able to identify that it was made of three layers of linen; an outer, an interlining and a lining, all of a brown/grey colour.
Where is the cache kept now?
The doublet and the inkwell are currently displayed in the J.Stoneman and Sons shop in Reigate where they were discovered. When deciding how she would approach the treatment of the doublet it was important for Susan Stanton to consider how and where it would be displayed, and how the object’s history and context could be represented. To preserve the fragile doublet and support it in the best possible way, some of the dust and dirt was carefully removed and it was placed in a custom-made, fully supportive mount. It was not unfolded and placed on a mannequin, although this may have made it easier to recognise the doublet’s original shape and construction, because it was too delicate. Instead Stanton constructed a replica, after taking careful measurements from the original. The replica is display alongside the doublet and inkwell.