The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2014 > Henry Poole & Co. Founder of Savile Row The Art of Bespoke Tailoring and Wool Cloth

Henry Poole & Co. Founder of Savile Row The Art of Bespoke Tailoring and Wool Cloth


21 September 2013 - 11 May 2014


Henry Poole & Co, the company that created the dinner jacket and which established Savile Row was the subject of the inaugural exhibition of men’s tailoring and craftsmanship at The Bowes Museum.

Founded in 1806, Henry Poole & Co was granted a royal warrant by Queen Victoria in 1869 and has continued to hold the royal warrant ever since.

In 1865, Henry Poole & Co made the original dinner jacket for the Prince of Wales, a garment which transformed men’s fashion and etiquette, and in the USA became known as the Tuxedo.

This exhibition, displayed in the Museum’s internationally renowned Fashion & Textiles Gallery, included a contemporary dinner jacket, a single breasted jacket in Churchill stripe, a tweed shooting jacket with waistcoat and plus twos and a sports blazer which bears the Napoleonic Eagle, all made by Henry Poole & Co using fine Merino wool fabric and wool tweed.

This exhibition was a celebration of the art of bespoke tailoring and looked at the history of high end British tailoring and the use of wool in fine clothing. The wool fabrics used in the exhibition were sourced from British mills and included a Churchill stripe; the fabric created for Winston Churchill, one of Henry Poole’s many famous clients. Complementing the contemporary clothing were ceremonial outfits from Henry Poole’s archive and garments from The Bowes Museum’s fashion collection never previously exhibited, including: court dress with an embroidered floral waistcoat reflecting Georgian taste by Henry Poole & Co; hunting dress and a rare man’s wedding suit of 1842. A 19th Century portrait of Emperor Napoleon III by Jules Vignon from The Bowes Museum’s permanent collection were also displayed. Napoleon III is depicted in full ceremonial outfit tailored by Henry Poole & Co. Napoleon III was Henry Poole & Co’s first warrant holder in 1858.

Supported by The Woolmark Company; The Drapers’ Charitable Fund; The Daphne Bullard Trust and Kathy Callow Trust


Related Events


Savile Row Tailors Henry Poole & Co. - Demonstration
6 December, 7 March, 11 April, 2 May 1.00 – 4.00
Free with Admission
Enjoy a demonstration by tailoring staff to complement the current exhibition Henry Poole & Co. ­~ Founder of Savile Row, The Art of Bespoke Tailoring and Wool Cloth.

Gallery Talk
28 November, 23 January, 27 February, 27 March, 24 April, 2.30 – 3.00,
 Free with Admission
Join one of the curators for an introduction to the current exhibition Henry Poole & Co. ­~ Founder of Savile Row, The Art of Bespoke Tailoring and Wool Cloth.

Supported by:


The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.