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OU on the BBC: History Detectives - Gloves and a chest

Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2007

Silk gloves packed into a walnut and a fine old travelling chest. The History Detectives unpack the fascinating stories behind each of them.

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Claire Barratt Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: The Open University

The cases

Stuart Bond has two walnut shells with a fine leather glove packed in each. What are they for? And where did they come from? Claire Barratt analyses the unsettling source of the leather, traces their history and uncovers the truth behind their very fashionable purpose.

A large travelling chest sits in Rhona Ferguson’s hallway in Edinburgh. It has been in the family for over a hundred years. Neil Oliver leads the search for the original owner, which takes us into the world of frontier soldiering in imperial India, and reveals the surprising monument that stands in his memory in a Scottish glen.

The investigations also take in an accident on the London and North Eastern Railway and the story of footballer Patrick Boylan.

The clues

Some resources that the History Detectives used in the programme

The walnut shell gloves


Worcester City Museums for information about Worcester’s gloving industry


Oxford Journals online:

Notes and Queries, 1910; s11–II249
Robert Pierpoint
For a description of Limerick Gloves in a walnut shell.

Murad the Unlikely – The Limerick Gloves
Maria Edgeworth, Holerth Press
A short story about Limerick Gloves.


The Leather Conservation Centre
The Centre undertakes practical conservation, training, research and analysis, consultancy work, and produces a wide-ranging series of publications on all aspects of leather conservation.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Furniture, textiles and frames department examines stitching and style of gloves.

The Worshipful Company of Glovers in London
History and collection of gloves 1600–1900s.

Conservatoire des Créations Hermes
Where Louise Giffon, the seamstress, worked and where a copy of her birth certificate was obtained. The company holds some 2,000 pairs of gloves.

The Train Crash


Hull Evening News, Feb 14th 1927
Source: Hull Museum of Transport.

Ministry of Transport Inquiry (London and North Eastern Railway, 13th April 1927)
Source: Hull Museum of Transport.

Railway Ancestors Guide to Staff Records
David T Hawkings, Stroud, A. Sutton, in association with The Public Record Office, 1995.


Montgomerie's Chest


National Army Museum, Chelsea
For information on the history of the East India Company and how the native infantry enforced their rules. Also contains index cards of army records.


Directory to Gentlemen's Seats, Villages, etc in Scotland
James Findlay
Carnegie Library, Ayr


Glasgow Museums Conservation Department
Dollar Museum
Castle Campbell Hall
1 High Street
Dollar. FK14 7AY
Tel: 01259 742 185
Houses a plaque dated 1836 for Major Montgomerie.


Footballer Patrick Boylan

Arsenal Football Club have records of Patrick Boylan and Greenock Morton Football Club houses the Greenock and District Trophy.

1901 Census Records reveal where Patrick Boylan lived.

Scottish Football Museum,





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