Honiton charity bids for Wallis Simpson’s nightie

Glamorous gown, featuring Victorian Honiton Lace, could attract American visitors to the town.

HONITON could become a magnet for American tourists if Allhallows Museum secures the purchase of a nightdress worn by Wallis Simpson.

The scarlet chiffon gown, featuring a capelet and flower sprays made of Victorian Honiton Lace, goes under the hammer at an auction in Pall Mall, London, tomorrow (Thursday).

The museum’s trustees last week agreed to bid for the nightdress, which is being sold by former Harrods boss Mohamed al Fayed to raise cash for an international children’s charity set up in memory of his son, Dodi, who died alongside Princess Diana in Paris in 1997.

“It would be a very prestigious item for the museum to have,” said Pat Perryman, the world’s leading authority on Honiton Lace and chairman of the museum’s trustees.

“It would make a wonderful display and bring in lots more visitors, particularly Americans.”

Although the guide price for the nightdress is �600, it could fetch much more than that - meaning the museum would be happy to accept donations towards its purchase.

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“We would welcome donations,” said Mrs Perryman.

Allhallows Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Honiton Lace. The addition of a piece once worn by American Wallis Simpson, who became The Duchess of Windsor when she married former King Edward VIII, is expected to generate worldwide interest.

Dating from the late 1940s to early 1950s, the gown features white zig-zag embroidery edging and lace flower sprays.

Mr al Fayed acquired the gown when he bought the late duchess’s home and all its contents in Bois de Boulogne.

It is being sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions at the Passion for Fashion and Fine Textiles sale at La Galleria, in Royal Opera Arcade.

To make a donation towards the cost of the purchase, contact the museum’s archivist, Margaret Lewis, on (01404) 42002.