2004 was a year that Henry Cullander will never forget. It was the year he claimed an entry in the world-famous Guinness book of records for having the largest collection of Spats in the world.
He remembers it vividly,
‘I was invited all over the world to talk to fashion people about the possibility of Spats making a comeback. I gave lectures to Colleges of Design and for four wonderful weeks there was a display of part of my collection at the London Museum of ‘footwear through the ages’. It was a wonderful time and I will never forget it. I travelled the world without spending a penny (?) and made lots of new friends. So, you can imagine my surprise when it happened again but this time with my collection of Royal Tea Towels’.
Henry allowed the Stratfordian into his garden sheds (of which he has four. Surely a record in itself?) where there are over 5,000 tea towels each portraying a member of (and here’s the difference) various Royal families.
There are the Kings and Queens of Siam, the various rulers of Saudi Arabia, the King and Queen of a Pygmy tribe (the Fukarwi) in Central Africa each and everyone pictured on a tea towel.
There are of course too many to list here so, The Stratfordian asked Henry, the obvious question…
‘The Spats thing began just before my wife divorced me. I remember I had nearly 250 different pairs of Spats at the time and she said in court that I was spending too much time with them. She pleaded mental cruelty but that was thrown out. (I suspect because the Judge in charge was a fellow collector) but she left anyway. I just carried on as normal’.
Asked about the present value of his Tea Towel Collection…
‘I have been offered thousands for this collection but of course I will never part with it. And besides, who else do you know who has a Queen Victoria tea towel personally signed by her ‘friend’ and servant John Brown?’
There was one other question that this reporter was dying to know…’What did Henry do in his spare time?’
Henry’s reply? Apparently, he’s a keen member of Stratford upon Avon’s Over-50’s Whistling Club and spends as much time as possible wild-water swimming and collecting empty deodorant spray cans.