The late Mrs. Betty Penny MBE founded the Blandford Fashion museum, located in Lime Tree House, in 1996. The house is a beautiful Georgian property in Blandford Forum, built by John and William Bastard after the town’s Great Fire in 1731.

Mrs. Penny’s collection of costumes, known locally as the Cavalcade of Costume, form the nucleus of the present collection. However, since then the collection has almost trebled in size and continues to grow thanks to generous donations from the public.

In 2024, thanks to Dorset Council for the Culture and Community Project Fund we were able to initiate Stage 1 of our digitisation project, which has enabled us to digitally record all of the paperwork and photography associated with the Cavalcade of Costume. We are looking at a way at making this available through our website but for now, if you are interested in studying this wealth of information please email

The Arts Council gave the museum accredited status in 2010, and renewed it in 2015. We receive a small grant from the Town Council, but no other public funding. As a result, all our members of staff are volunteers and we have a reputation locally for our friendly atmosphere.

We have 13 display spaces over two floors, and there is a rolling programme of exhibition changes. Exhibitions show visitors historic dress and textiles and the connection between fashion and social history. Additional facilities include a Resources Room for use by students studying fashion & textiles and a Lecture Room for study days.

12 Replies to “About”

  1. Hello,

    My name is Michaela Cardo, and I am a Ph.D. student at Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada). My dissertation examines the gifting of dress objects (dresses, shoes, jewellery, gloves, etc.) between British women in the mid-19th century. I was wondering if any of the items in your collection were originally given as gifts before they ended up at the Blandford Fashion Museum.

    I realize this is probably an unfulfillable request, but I hope that your knowledge of the collection may result in some useful leads. If you are able to think of any objects that might connect in some way to gift-giving, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your time,
    Michaela Cardo, M.A.

    1. Hello, we re-opened on 13th Feb and our open 10.00-4.00 on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

    1. Hi – Apologies for not seeing this message earlier. We are not open extra hours in the Easter holidays. Thanks

    1. Hi Tim
      Thanks for your message. Dogs are allowed in the tearoom and we have a small courtyard they can also go into. They are not allowed into the museum.

    1. Hi, Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately we are unable to take fur donations at the moment. They have to be kept in cold stores and ours are currently full. If you email I could send you some contacts for other places which may take it.

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