The Costume Rooms – Bude’s Unique shopping experience …

Pre-Christmas, I asked people to recommend their favourite shops in Bude, places that go over and above the call of duty in providing consistently good service to customers.

The plan was to visit the winning shop, interview the owner and write an article. I’m well aware that I have not yet had time to do so and it is now March, so I’m writing something anyway, without the visit.  The visit will come later, as this shop is indeed fascinating …


The winner was The Costume Rooms owned by Michelle Barker, whose passion is creating accurate replicas of Georgian costumes.

I first encountered Michelle some years ago at a Bude Castle exhibition on Heritage Day, fascinated by her work on the authentic-looking costumes she was creating as we watched. The workshop has been researching and studying eighteenth-century costume for over 6 years now. She is intrigued by three questions:

  1. How was Georgian costume made?

2. What variations are there in the patterns as the fashions changed throughout the century?

3. Why on earth did they sew that item like that?

On the website, Michelle writes: from Edinburgh to Totnes, we have visited costume museums and had countless study sessions. We have studied over 20 pairs of stays, have looked at over 100 garments, have taken actual patterns from about four 1760s sack backs alone (in a desire to see if there’s a similarity between pattern shapes) and have looked into the development of  inner tailoring techniques between the 1760s and 1780s in menswear. We also have well over 30 patterns in our ever-growing collection that have been taken from original garments. It’s become a bit of a passion really.

You don’t say, Michelle!

Just look at these dresses – photo from Michelle’s Facebook page

More amazing stuff about the fine details of the costumes on the Handbound Costume site.

Situated on the Strand in Bude, the idea of this quirky gift shop, combined with a costume workshop,  was born from a passion for fashion history and classical literature, a life-long love of sewing and all things crafty allied with a desire to share the joy that can be found in the gift of giving. Michelle loves stationery and it shows – her shop is full of it. MY big issue everywhere is that it is really hard to get letter-writing stationery these days as I guess no one writes letters any more.

So beautifully elegant!


For those who have recently seen Emma, there are a lot of Jane Austen themed gifts, from colouring books to soaps, mugs and bookmarks, things you don’t often see elsewhere.
Visitors to Bude and locals can drop in to witness the creation of replica period costumes in the on-site workshop whilst having a browse; a very unique shopping experience indeed.


  • Dave Mitchell says:

    I have never had a problem finding presents for my granddaughters and daughter here. Michelle has got everything in this little ol’ shop!🙂
    If you don’t believe me, may I suggest you drop by and have a look, see for yourselves.🙂
    For me, it is a real privilege to support and encourage this girl to live her dream in every which way I can and what she is doing is providing an essential part of the community Bude. Long may this business flourish and prosper in the ebb and flow of retail.😊

  • Merryn says:

    Michelle not only runs a great shop but she is a kind and sunny individual. Always welcoming, always smiling.

    Her shop has helped out Father Christmas for the last few years as she often stocks the quirky items that children love. Great for presents and cards as well as stationery.

    I cannot recommend her shop highly enough. Also, she will always try and get something in for you if you can’t find that particular something.

  • Liz says:

    Michelle’s shop is lovely. So many treasures there from bits for kids (finger puppets, unusual colouring sets and all sorts), to decorations, history books, beautiful stationary and much, much more including a card for just about everyone you know! Definitely worth popping in for a browse.

    Once you meet Michelle you’ll want to pop in just to say ‘hi’, she’s so lovely! Her costumes are wonderful and she’s so passionate.

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