Playing by the rules: Childhood, dress and imagination
- 31 January 2023
The new fashion exhibition will draw on the Killerton collection and explore children's clothing of the 19th and 20th centuries, many of them part of the Margaret Bodley collection of children's clothes which was acquired by the National Trust in the early 1980s.
The 'Playing by the rules' fashion exhibition at Killerton
The fashion exhibition opens daily with the house from 10 February until 3 November 2024.
‘What I envy the little girls of today is the fewness and simplicity of their garments...’ (Eleanor Acland, Goodbye for the Present, 1935)
As well as 19th and 20th century children’s clothes drawn from the extensive Killerton collection, there will be a chance to spot dolls, toys and games from more than a century ago, there will even be activities for the little ones to get involved with too.
The exhibition outlines how attitudes to children’s fashion has changed over two hundred years, including dressing boys and girls almost alike in petticoats until the age of four or five. We also tell some astonishing stories connected to the some of the children who wore the clothing on display, one grew up to be Admiral of the Fleet, another a star of West End musicals and movies!
This year we've been helped by local Girl Guiding Units - our Young Curators. Broadclyst and Cranbrook Brownies, aged from six to ten, share their designs for Future Fashion for children, while the Guides and Young Leaders, aged ten to sixteen, select photographs from the collections reflecting children’s clothes for different occasions.
The free is exhibition is included with entry.
Entry prices for non members are displayed on our home page. National Trust members visit for free.
The fashion exhibition is on the first floor of the house which is only accessible via the main staircase (no lift).
Killerton is home to the National Trust’s biggest fashion collection, with more than 20,000 items of historic clothing and accessories, some dating back to the 17th century.
The Acland family, who gave the estate to the Trust in 1944, did so for the benefit and enjoyment of everybody. Here's a brief history of the family who called Killerton home.
Explore the garden, woods and parkland at Killerton. With an estate that covers 6,400 acres, you'll find fun and adventures for children of all ages. Join in the fun during the Summer of Play, from 22 July to 3 September 2023.