Historic Royal Palaces bought this waistcoat for the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection in 1995, and it is currently in storage at Kensington Palace.
The waistcoat is an interesting early example of clothing adapted for illness. In the last months of his life George III was very ill and pieces of fabric were inserted into the waistcoat sleeves to give more mobility to the sleeves to make dressing the King much easier.
The waistcoat was first acquired by the Rev James Drake, Vicar of Warmfield in Yorkshire, a few months after the death of King George III. In a letter of 19 July 1821 Rev William Monsell, a chaplain to King George IV, writes to his friend Rev James Drake:
‘… you expressed a desire to be in possession of some article worn by the late King. I am now happy to inform you I have procured you a part of his attire which I consider rather interesting as I have no doubt it was the last article he wore in this world.’
Monsell explains that during his last illness the king always wore a dressing gown and waistcoat with sleeves made of damask. The King was given a new gown and waistcoat every three months and Monsell assures Drake that ‘there can be no mistake about this article. It was the identical one worn by the late King.’
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