Dame Vera Lynn’s personal wardrobe and memorabilia are showcased in an exhibition honoring her life

Dame Vera Lynn’s personal wardrobe, paintings and memorabilia are showcased in a new exhibition celebrating her life.

The beloved of the Armed Forces, who died last year at the age of 103, possessed treasured outfits, including the chic cream suit she wore to marry her husband Harry in 1941.

A khaki shirt and shorts set worn by Dame Vera during her wartime travels through the Far East, and beautiful ball gowns worn on stage are also on display at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, in the village of East Sussex where the beloved of the armed forces to called 60 years.

Dame Vera Lynn's personal wardrobe, paintings and memorabilia are showcased in a new exhibition celebrating her life.  The beloved of the armed forces, who died last year at the age of 103, preserved valuable outfits, including the suit she wore to marry her husband Harry in 1941.

The suit on display

Dame Vera Lynn’s personal wardrobe, paintings and memorabilia are showcased in a new exhibition celebrating her life. The beloved of the armed forces, who died last year at the age of 103, preserved valuable outfits, including the suit she wore to marry her husband Harry in 1941 (pictured)

A khaki set of shirt and shorts, worn by Dame Vera during her wartime travels through the Far East, is also on display at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, in the East Sussex village she called home.

The outfit on display

A khaki set of shirt and shorts, worn by Dame Vera during her wartime travels through the Far East, is also on display at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, in the East Sussex village she called home.

One of the most fascinating items is a letter sent to inform the singer that she was to perform at Princess Elizabeth's 16th birthday at Windsor Castle in 1942, even though she was already booked for a separate engagement.

One of the most fascinating items is a letter sent to inform the singer that she was to perform at Princess Elizabeth’s 16th birthday at Windsor Castle in 1942, even though she was already booked for a separate engagement.

A poster for the Royal Variety Performance in 1957

Other highlights include photos from Dame Vera's 1944 trip through Burma and the pocket diary she kept documenting her journey.

A poster for the Royal Variety Performance in 1957. Other highlights include photos of Dame Vera’s 1944 trip through Burma and the pocket diary she kept documenting her journey (right)

The exhibition, set up with the support of Dame Vera's daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, 76, also showcases the singer's private love of painting, featuring 20 of her never-before-seen landscapes, portraits and botanical watercolors.  Above a selection of Dame Vera's paintings

The exhibition, set up with the support of Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, 76, also showcases the singer’s private love of painting, featuring 20 of her never-before-seen landscapes, portraits and botanical watercolors. Above a selection of Dame Vera’s paintings

One of the most fascinating items is a letter sent informing the singer that she was to perform at Princess Elizabeth’s 16th birthday at Windsor Castle in 1942, even though she was already booked for a separate engagement.

The letter, labeled “secret,” informed Dame Vera that she was “compulsory to a private commando performance” staged by King George VI on the occasion of his daughter’s personal birthday.

The exhibition, set up with the support of Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, 76, also showcases the singer’s private love of painting, featuring 20 of her never-before-seen landscapes, portraits and botanical watercolors.

Other highlights include photos of Dame Vera’s 1944 trip to Burma to perform for the ‘Forgotten Army’ and the pocket diary she kept documenting her journey.

Mrs. Lewis-Jones said: ‘The war has opened up so much to women, like working in armaments. She paved the way for women to do more adventurous things. She led the way by going to Burma and singing in the middle of the jungle.

, Dame Vera Lynn wears the dress at an event

An elegant powder blue ball gown with a nipped-in waist and embellished neckline is on display

An elegant powder blue ball gown with a nipped-in waist and embellished neckline is on display. Left, Dame Vera Lynn wears the dress at an event

A flattering black velvet dress worn by Dame Vera on The New Musical Express in 1952

Dame Vera dress on display

A flattering black velvet dress worn by Dame Vera on The New Musical Express in 1952

Vera Lynn during rehearsals for 'Christmas Night With The Stars' at Shepherds Bush in 1971

The beautiful flowing magenta dress on display in the museum

Vera Lynn during rehearsals for ‘Christmas Night With The Stars’ in Shepherds Bush in 1971. Right, the beautiful flowing magenta dress on display at the museum

Dame Vera in a floral dress in 1980

The dress seen next to Dame Vera .'s dresses

Dame Vera in a floral dress in 1980. Right, the dress seen next to Dame Vera’s dresses

Personal belongings, including the artist's travel case and accessory cases

Personal belongings, including the artist’s travel case and accessory cases

“She wasn’t supposed to keep a diary in case she got caught, but she hid it. She wrote things like “slept on a stretcher between two chairs in a mud hut”… them.

‘I think the jungle is terrible. She was wearing a nice dress for a show and the men said to her afterwards, “I wouldn’t wear that again Vera, you were sweating so much you can see right through it!” Then she performed in army clothes.’

A flowy orange frock worn at the Morecombe and Wise Christmas Show in 1971 and a feather dress handmade by her mother also feature prominently in the museum.

Ms Lewis-Jones added: ‘I think the museum has done a wonderful job. I think it gives more of an overall picture of what Mom did, including with her artwork.

Vera's framed gold discs and her cover of NME, as well as a chart documenting her success

Vera’s framed gold discs and her cover of NME, as well as a chart documenting her success

Dame Vera's daughter shared some candid snaps of her mother she's taken over the past year

Dame Vera’s daughter shared some candid snaps of her mother she’s taken over the past year

The intimate photos offer a glimpse into Dame Vera's life offstage, including time with her family

The intimate photos offer a glimpse into Dame Vera’s life offstage, including time with her family

The Armed Forces darling touring frontline camps and acting for troops has also been documented

The Armed Forces darling touring frontline camps and acting for troops has also been documented

“I’ve known that mummy painted and drew since I was little, but I don’t think it was really known to the public. She was very good. I think a lot of artists are often very good artists, it’s another side of their creative field.

‘There is also a beautiful tapestry, unfortunately not quite finished, which she always did when waiting to go on stage. We hope it will bring a lot of interest and joy to the people who come to visit.’

Dame Vera was the patroness of the museum for a long time.

Director Steph Fuller added: “This has been an incredibly exciting exhibit to put together to commemorate our former patroness Vera Lynn.

A museum employee straightens out one of the botanical watercolors created by Dame Vera.  are painted

A museum employee straightens out one of the botanical watercolors created by Dame Vera. are painted

An unfinished tapestry begun by Dame Vera is one of her daughter's personal highlights

An unfinished tapestry begun by Dame Vera is one of her daughter’s personal highlights

The displays, including the one above, give Dame Vera fans the chance to learn more

The displays, including the one above, give Dame Vera fans the chance to learn more

A glass display case houses the exhibit's key pieces, including concert memorabilia

A glass display case houses the exhibit’s key pieces, including concert memorabilia

“Displaying her personal items, including the diaries and correspondence, really brings Dame Vera to life for a new generation, and it was a privilege to be able to work with her family to do that.

‘It has been a real voyage of discovery for us. We all feel much closer to Dame Vera by getting to know her through objects that represent her life. I think one of the real revelations is her paintings.

‘The diary of Burma is a very special piece. She wasn’t supposed to keep a record while there, but she kept succinct, cryptic notes that show what a traumatic journey it was for her.”

The exhibition runs until April.

.

Leave a Comment