Something Else

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The Independent Culture
Now that Buckingham Palace has closed its doors for the winter, royal fanatics could do worse than head for east London where, in less splendid surroundings, the Ragged School Museum is showing The Tony Shephard Royal Collection. Shephard has spent the past 30 years amassing a historical tribute to the royals from a 250-year-old George II autograph to one from the reigning Queen Elizabeth II.

But the now-glorious collection started with a bang. Shephard explains: 'It all began when our house in the East End was bombed during the war. Literally all that survived in the house was a wooden box with my commemorative cup, plate and saucer from the 1937 Coronation.'

A turn-of-the-century nurse's journal is one of Shephard's favourite items. 'It traces her fascinating life and career from working in the deprived East End to nursing the Duke of York, who later became King George VI, at Buckingham Palace. She then went to Sandringham where she looked after Queen Alexandra, Princess Victoria and the Dowager Empress of Russia.'

Another highlight is a pair of Queen Victoria's stockings. 'They've caused a lot of comment,' Shephard says. 'People want to know where they came from and are amazed by a tiny bit of darning done either by a lady- in-waiting or by the Queen herself. She was supposed to be a good needlewoman.'

Exhibition runs to 6 Nov. Tony Shephard talks about his collection tomorrow at 7pm, Ragged School Museum, 46-48 Copperfield Rd, Bow, London E3 (081-980 6405)