In 2019, Marcia Reid Fotheringham made history to become the first black High Sheriff of Cumbria and only the third in England and Wales.
After the Crown, the position of High Sheriff is the oldest secular Office in the United Kingdom, and, as may be expected, comes with a particular dress code.
Just over a year after The Costume Collection opened at Tullie in July 2021, Marcia’s elaborate outfit from her time as High Sheriff joins the other dresses and accessories telling the story of Cumbrian women across 300 years.
Marcia’s outfit is the first new addition since the collection’s opening.
The High Sheriff outfit, kindly donated by Marcia, will be the second contemporary costume displayed in the gallery, joining scrubs worn during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic by Carlisle nurse Evelyn Charlotte Nakachwa.
Marcia Reid Fotheringham, High Sheriff of Cumbria 2019/20 said:“For me, having the outfit on display is a big deal. I know it may not have been such a big deal for some other people as High Sheriff, but for me to be acknowledged is fantastic.
“Tullie House has helped increase that acknowledgement and also helped increase the visibility of High Sheriffs.
“To my pleasure, and as a way of thanking Tullie, I’ve happily donated the outfit – the hat, the whole bit. For me the outfit is historic and needs to be somewhere other than my closet.”
On display from Tuesday August 16, museum visitors can take in the black velvet outfit, with its lace neck frill and feathered hat, and learn about its creation.
In addition to information presented on panels, visitors will also be able to access a short interview with Marcia, via QR code, shedding light on the role of High Sheriff and how she got her outfit made.
Melanie Gardner, Fine and Decorative Arts Curator, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery said: “Marcia’s High Sheriff outfit is a really important addition to the collection. It is a major step in helping the collection be more representative of people living in Carlisle and North Cumbria today. We are very pleased to be able to share Marcia’s story with our visitors through the display.”
Marcia was born to Jamaican parents in London in 1954, moving to New York as a child, later working as a clinical psychologist in mental health care as an adult in Massachusetts.
In 1997, she returned to the UK, settling in Brampton with her husband, Jim Fotheringham, a dentist, and mountaineer.
Since then, Marcia has managed her husband’s dental practice, worked as a psychologist and therapist for the NHS, and was a Magistrate for almost 20 years.
The Costume Collection is a permanent display within Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery and the first part of major capital development programme, Project Tullie which, among other things, aims to transform the museum and increase the number of collections on display.
It has been generously supported by funding from the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and the Northern Powerhouse, the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund and the Garfield Weston Foundation.
Exhibition and Architectural Design by Carmody Groarke.
You can see Marcia’s High Sheriff outfit along with a range of other historic fashion in The Costume Collection open 10am – 4pm Monday to Saturday.
Entry into the gallery is included with general admission/an annual ticket, under-18s go free.