Lady Vera Lynn’s personal wardrobe, paintings and memorabilia have been displayed in a new exhibition celebrating her life.
The forces’ girlfriend, who died last year at the age of 103, grabbed precious clothes, including the smart cream suit she wore to marry her husband Harry in 1941.
A khaki shirt and shorts set, worn by Dame Vera on her war travels in the Far East, and stunning ball gowns worn on stage are also on display at the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, in the East Sussex village, which the Armed Forces’ girlfriend called home for 60 years .
Lady Vera Lynn’s personal wardrobe, paintings and memorabilia have been displayed in a new exhibition celebrating her life. The forces’ girlfriend, who died last year at the age of 103, grabbed precious outfits, including the suit she wore to marry her husband Harry in 1941 (pictured)
A set of khaki shirts and shorts, worn by Dame Vera on her war travels in the Far East, is also on public display at the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, in the East Sussex village she called home
Among the most fascinating objects is a letter sent to inform the singer that she was to perform at Princess Elizabeth’s 16th birthday celebration at Windsor Castle in 1942, even though she was already reserved for a separate engagement
A poster for the Royal Variety Performance from 1957. Other highlights include photos of Dame Vera’s trip across Burma in 1944 and the pocket diary she kept documenting her journey (right)
The exhibition, which was staged with the support of Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, 76, also shows the singer’s private love of painting, with 20 of her unprecedented landscapes, portraits and watercolor plants on display. Above a selection of Dame Vera’s paintings
Among the most fascinating objects is a letter sent to inform the singer that she was to perform at Princess Elizabeth’s 16th birthday celebration at Windsor Castle in 1942, even though she was already reserved for a separate engagement.
The letter, with the headline ‘secret’, informed Dame Vera that she was ‘required for a private command appearance’ organized by King George VI to mark his daughter’s personal birthday.
The exhibition, which was staged with the support of Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, 76, also shows the singer’s private love of painting, with 20 of her unprecedented landscapes, portraits and watercolor plants on display.
Other highlights include photographs of Dame Vera’s journey through Burma in 1944 to perform for ‘Forgotten Army’ and the pocket diary she kept documenting her journey.
Mrs Lewis-Jones said: ‘The war opened up as much to women as working with weapons. She paved the way for women to do more adventurous things. She took the lead by going to Burma and singing in the middle of the jungle.
An elegant powder blue ball gown with a cut at the waist and an ornate neckline is displayed. Left, Lady Vera Lynn wearing the dress at an event
A figure-flattering black velvet dress worn by Dame Vera on The New Musical Express in 1952
Vera Lynn at rehearsals for ‘Christmas Night With The Stars’ in Shepherd’s Bush in 1971. Right, the beautiful flowing magenta dress on display in the museum
Dame Vera in a floral dress in 1980. Okay, the dress on display together with Dame Vera’s dresses
Personal belongings including the artist’s travel suitcase and accessory cases
‘She was not allowed to keep a diary if she was caught, but she kept it a secret. She wrote things like “sleeping on a stretcher between two chairs in a mud hut” … and about having to move the flies that landed in her soup, because you could not stop them from going in, so she just had to eat around. them.
‘I think the jungle was awful. She wore a beautiful dress to a show, and the men said to her afterwards, “I did not want to wear it again Vera, you sweat so much that you can see right through it!” Then she appeared in the army gear ‘.
A flowing orange dress worn at the Morecombe and Wise Christmas Show in 1971 and a feather dress handmade by her mother also take an honor in the museum.
Mrs Lewis-Jones added: ‘I think the museum has done a brilliant job. I think it gives more of a versatile picture of what mom did, also with her art.
Vera framed gold discs and her cover of NME, as well as a chart documenting her success
Dame Vera’s daughter shared some honest photos of her mother taken during the year
The intimate images provide a glimpse of Dame Vera’s life off stage, including time with her family
The forces’ girlfriend, who tours in frontline camps and performs for troops, is also documented
‘I have known since I was little that mother painted and drew, but I do not think it was really known by the public. She was very good. I think a lot of artists are also often very good artists, that’s another side of their creative field.
‘There is also a lovely tapestry, unfortunately not quite finished, as she used to do when she was waiting to go on stage. We hope it brings lots of interest and joy to the people who come and visit. ‘
Lady Vera was a long time patron of the museum.
Director Steph Fuller added: ‘This has been an incredibly exciting exhibition to put together in memory of our former patron Vera Lynn.
A museum employee straightens one of the botanical watercolors painted by Dame Vera
An unfinished tapestry started by Dame Vera is among her daughter’s personal highlights
The screens, including the one above, will give Dame Vera fans a chance to learn more
A glass display case holds key parts in the exhibition, including concert memorabilia
‘Showing off her personal belongings, including diaries and correspondence, really brings Dame Vera to life for a new generation, and it has been a privilege to be able to work with her family to do so.
‘It has been a true 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 Burma Diary is a really special piece. She was not supposed to keep records while she was there, but she kept short, cryptic notes that bring home what a traumatic journey it was for her. ‘
The exhibition runs until April.