Visitors are guided around three floors of costumes and accessories by experienced staff that have a wealth of knowledge about the history of costume and the contents of the Store.
Customers select costumes from rails and boxes, mostly ordered by period and colour, although some things can be difficult to categorise - where do you store a green devil with a pigs snout, or items which combine different periods, such as dresses from Merry Wives, the Musical with Elizabethan styled bodices and 1950s skirts?
The team needs to know exactly where all these items are kept.
As well as being stored in basic periods there are sections devoted to servants and peasants, global and fantasy costumes and an array of accessories. There is also a 'bloodied' section, with gore-stained dresses and costumes rescued from productions of bloody plays such as Titus Andronicus and Julius Caesar.
Costume store facts and figures:
- Over 30,000 costumes and accessories
- Over 550 metres of rails over 3 floors
- Some costumes may be only a few months old, most are a few years old, others could have been in the Store for 25 years
- All our costumes are made to last – many will have survived over 100 performances
First Floor – Classical World to 16th Century
This floor houses an assortment of Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan costumes, as well as peasants, leathers and the 'Classical' rails of Egyptian, Greek and Roman costumes.
Second floor – 17th Century, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian, Fantasy and Global
The main focus of this floor are the stylish clothes from the 17th to 19th Centuries. However, some of the strangest and most brightly coloured creations can be found in the Fantasy and Global rails, including a pink bumblebee outfit and the disturbing pig suits from Marat/Sade.
Third floor – 20th Century, Religious, Military and Footwear
Here you'll find 20th Century clothing, from the 1920s upwards as well as a vast range of religious robes. We also have a military collection with period and modern uniforms. The rails are surrounded by hats, armour and footwear of all eras. And don't forget our extraordinary rail of paddings and body suits.