Tom Heslewood Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains designs and reference material scrapbooks compiled by Tom Heselwood, as well as a copy of the play-text of Charles I (author unknown).

Administrative / Biographical History

Tom Heslewood, born in 1868, was a British actor and costume designer. His fist stage appearance was at London's Shaftesbury Theatre, 1893, as Wilton Ken in Sheridan Le Fanu's Uncle Silas.

During his career as a designer he designed such costumes and scenery as those for Where the Rainbow Ends, General John Regan and Anthony in Wonderland for Charles Hawtrey and Princess Clementina, The Grand Seigneur and Hamlet for H.B Irving.

Heslewood knew the great actor Henry Irving personally, and was also well aquianted with both of Irving's sons; Harry Brodribb (H.B) and Laurence Irving. He was eventually to acquire most of Irving's stage costumes after his death. Upon the 50th anniversary of Irving's death (1938) he presented a selection of the costumes to the Museum of London, the bulk having previously gone to the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford. In 1955 it was decided that the costumes at Stratford would also be moved to London on a permanent loan. In 2011 all of Heslewood's Irving costumes were acquired by the V&A's Theatre and Performance department.

In the latter part of his career Heslewood acted in films including Peg of Old Drury (1935) and Victoria the Great (1937).

Tom Heslewood died in 1959.


The original working order of the archive has been maintained where appropriate and some items have been grouped according to subject. The archive has been divided into the following series:

  • THM/128/1 - Costume Designs
  • THM/128/2 - British Monarchy and Assorted Subjects Reference Scrapbooks.
  • THM/128/3 - Garnerey Costume Reference Prints
  • THM/128/4 - Flag Reference Prints and Designs
  • THM/128/5 - Reference Ephemera
  • THM/128/6 - Charles I Play-Text
  • THM/128/7 - Queen Henrietta Maria Print

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

This collection combines two separate gift donations from 1989 and 1990.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.


No further accruals are expected.