As a child I spent many an hour sitting in my Grandmother’s shop in Pimlico. The shop sold all sorts of curiosities, antiques, bric-a-brac and lots of Victorian lace items and clothes. The shop had been passed down to my grandmother by her mother who had been a market trader, then shop owner and avid collector of Victorian clothing.
Gertrude Lee, born 1886 my great-grandmother had a very interesting life. She started her working life as a variety artiste, singer and dancer on the stages of London in the 1910s and continued on the stage until after the first world war. She used the stage name ‘Betty Lambert’ I have this early picture of her with the other stage girls, it’s so fascinating to see her and be related to her.
One of the most amazing pictures we have of her is this postcard from the first world war, which was sold to raise money for tobacco for the men on the front line.
Following the first world war Mrs Lee supported her family with her love of costume and antique clothing by trading under the famous clock tower in Caledonian market, and in the markets of East Street, London.
By the 1950s she had expanded her business and was running three London shops in Camberwell, Covent Garden and Pimlico. The shops specialised in fine lace from Honiton and Bruges as well as antique clothing, and costume from stage and screen.
Here is a picture of her in her shop in 1953 with the actress Jean Marsh, who later starred in Upstairs Downstairs
And another picture from the 1950s