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FAN CLUB

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London's fan museum nabbed the top spot in The Telegraph's round up of London's 50 best alternative and quirky museums and it's not difficult to see why. Located in the heart of historic Greenwich, the museum (devoted in its entirety to the history of fans and the ancient craft of fan making) occupies two lovingly restored Grade II listed Georgian townhouses. Visitors can have afternoon tea in the Orangery which is home to beautifully detailed murals and overlooks a ‘secret’ garden in the Japanese style. And we haven't even mentioned the collection of 5,000 fans and fan leaves dating from from the 11th century to the present day. low res1 Their latest acquisition is yet another reason to visit. To cost £45,000 a fan needs to have some fairly special qualities and this embroidered example has several. Queen_Elizabeth_I_('The_Ditchley_portrait')_by_Marcus_Gheeraerts_the_YoungerDated c. 1590-1630, no other examples of this type of fan – that is to say a folding fan with sticks joined at the pivot end with a cord or ribbon – are thought to have survived. It has shaped sticks crafted from ivory and the outer guardsticks, set with tufts of silk, are pierced with minute holes through which fine threads connect monture to mount on either side. The silk mount is double and richly embroidered with polychrome and metallic threads in a style typical of the Elizabethan period. A charming panelled design of scrolling vines with assorted flowers, fruit (and snail) is repeated on both sides. Fans such as this were fashionable for a relatively short period, often worn in conjunction with wheel farthingale dresses – as popularised at the Court of Queen Elizabeth I. The fan is a remarkable survival and dates from a time when folding fans had only recently been introduced to Europe via trade with the East, thus replacing the fixed fan as the noblewoman’s essential costume accessory/status symbol. In early September 2015, the fan will go on long-term display within the museum’s permanent gallery and programme of events is planned to celebrate the acquisition. Though London's small museums will never mount blockbuster exhibitions they have a rare charm – add the Fan Museum and other to your 'to-do' list this summer..  The Fan Museum, 12 Crooms Hill, London SE10 8ER, Tues-Sat 11-5, Sun 12-5


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