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Victoria's secret - queen's bloomers up for sale after man decides to sell heirlooms

Queen Victoria's bloomers will fetch thousands at auction Credit: Hansons

An outfit once worn by Queen Victoria has been unearthed in a cupboard after 100 years.

The clothes included the monarch's skirt and bodice, bloomers, stockings and leather boots.

The remarkable array of clothing, treasured for generations by the same family, belongs to 63-year-old electrical engineer Roderick Williams from Coltishall near Norwich.

He’s now decided to sell the collection, which could make more than £15,000 when it goes under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire in January.

In 2008, Hansons sold a pair of Queen Victoria’s bloomers for £4,500, a chemise for £3,800 and a nightdress for £5,200.

They sparked an international buying battle with bids coming in from Brazil, Russia, Hong Kong and New York, such is the fascination with the British monarch who reigned for 63 years.

Mr Williams with some of the clothing Credit: Hansons

Queen Victoria’s clothing and boots are family heirlooms which were originally given to my great-great grandfather, Alexander Lamont Henderson. “He worked as a royal photographer for Queen Victoria up to her death in 1901 and we think the clothes were probably given to him by servants in the royal household, perhaps in return for taking photographs of them.”

– Roderick Williams
Alexander Lamont Henderson in 1901. Credit: Hansons

The items include cream and red stockings, a chemise, black skirt, bodice, bloomers and two pairs of handmade leather ankle boots by J Sparks-Hall of London – a shoemaker credited with the design of the Chelsea boot.

The items are due to be sold at Hansons’ Derbyshire’s saleroom on January 21 with guide prices ranging from £800 for the red stockings to £1,500-£2,000 for a pair of boots.

Mr Williams said it's thought that Alexander caught Queen Victoria’s attention thanks to his experimental colour work with glass plate lantern slides and enamels.

She commissioned several coloured enamel pictures. These included portraits of her husband Prince Albert and her Scottish attendant John Brown plus views of the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore.

It’s also thought some tiny miniatures were donated for display in Queen Mary’s dolls house at Windsor.

In 1884 Alexander received a Royal Warrant and moved to London. The warrant allowed him to capture everyday royal life. He took photos of Queen Victoria and also worked with glass plate negatives taken by other photographers but much of his work has been lost or destroyed.

A portrait of Queen Victoria coloured by Alexander Henderson. Credit: Hansons

“When my great-great grandfather died in 1907, the clothing was passed down through the generations. It’s been kept in a wardrobe. I’m selling it now as I need to make some space. However, I’m not parting with Alexander’s glass plate negatives and enamel pictures which are of a very high quality. He was an extremely talented photographer.”

– Roderick Williams
The queen's black outfit has been kept in a cupboard for 100 years Credit: Hansons

Queen Victoria ruled from 1837 to 1901. After the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861 she wore black for the rest of her life.

As an auctioneer it’s always wonderful to handle living history. Though she was only 4ft 11ins and petite when she became queen at 18, she liked her food and her waist expanded to 50 inches over the decades – a fact demonstrated by the ample size of the bloomers.

– Charles Hanson
Hansons’ staff member Emma Carberry in the royal bloomers. Credit: Mark Laban/Hansons
Queen Victoria's boots were a size 4 Credit: Hansons

Edinburgh-born Alexander Lamont Henderson, who lived from 1837-1907, created a stir thanks to his experimental photography, enamel and colour work. His aim was to produce a photographic equivalent to the hand-painted miniatures commonly used in jewellery.

Queen Victoria’s clothing and boots will be sold at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, on January 21.