A toilet service which was given to the Museum by the late Margaret Roper in memory of her husband Brian Roper in 2016 is now on display on the top floor outside the Wirth gallery until Friday 8 June.
This grand set contains a pincushion, candlesticks, cosmetic pots and flasks for scented water. It would have been displayed on a dressing table draped with a light linen cloth (toilette), which gave its name to the ceremony of preparing for the day. The toilette was a social occasion, and toilet services were often given as gifts from husbands to their wives.
The set is engraved with the coat-of-arms of Jane Bickerton (1643-93), mistress, and later wife, of the 6th Duke of Norfolk. Silver plate was valued for its aesthetic qualities, but was a store of wealth in place of currency. The underside of a number of the pieces have ‘scratch weights’, showing the weight of silver used and therefore their literal worth. Inventories showed Bickerton had over £1,675 worth of gold and silver in her collection.