The Royal face of merchandising over the years

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During her incredibly long reign – and even longer life – the Queen must have seen her face plastered onto every piece of merchandise imaginable.

From mugs and posters to coins and cushions, if there’s a Royal special occasion on the calendar, some one has jumped in and created a must-have item.

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Cuckfield Museum is celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday with a lighthearted exhibition honouring some of the stranger items local people have collected over the years.

Among them are die cast models of Her Majesty on horseback, a Coronation tea strainer, special edition newspapers, quirky china and a marvellously tacky pair of jubilee silk knickers.

Then there are the homemade gems, such as the photo frames made by Mrs Patridge.

Museum curator Phillipa Malins said: “Mrs Partridge was the very creative nanny of local resident, Dick Whidborne. She made two coronation frames for photos of the Queen and Prince Philip out of cut and folded Players’ cigarette packets.

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“We are told she would have smoked every cigarette herself involved in the huge number of packs needed to make the frames!

“The Coronation mug is a precious memento belonging to Cuckfield resident, Judith Aspinall. It is made by Wedgewood with a design by Eric Ravilious.

“Ravilious had already designed mugs for the Edward VIII and George VI’s coronations. Although he was killed during the war, his design was used again for the Elizabeth II mug.”

Among the other displays at the museum is the World War One Ditty Box and its contents.

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The box holds basic items such as soap and a razor, which was carried by soldiers during the war.

Cuckfield’s Ditty Box belonged to George Botting, who went to war shortly after marrying Dora May Wells.

A member of the Royal Marines Light Infantry, he was killed on August 23 1917 and his possessions were sent home to Dora. Her family, in turn, presented the Ditty Box to the museum in 2003.

In it was George’s diary, which was something of a no-no, as soldiers were not officially allowed to keep them.

His battalion was sent to Frevillers, France, on August 17 1917 for training.

The last entry – August 20 – read: “Day of rest. Go to Auchel in the evening for a walk, quite a nice place, actually boasting a bazaar after our style. Buy a pocket wallet for a photo of the best little girl in the world.”

Three days later, while carrying out his duties as an instructor, George was killed after a grenade exploded prematurely as one of his recruits went to throw it.

May received the news in a letter from Lieutenant Colonel RC Hawkins who wrote: “He was struck through the heart and died instantly. Fortunately he did not suffer any pain, and I honestly believe he knew nothing of the accident.

“Your husband was a magnificent instructor, and was much admired and loved by his men.”

The Royal display will be at the museum, in Queens Hall, High Street, until September.

The museum is open on Wednesdays from 10am-12.30pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 10am-4pm.

Log on to www.cuckfieldmuseum.org .

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