A ‘gloving donkey’ from the South Somerset Heritage Collection (SSHC) took centre stage in the latest episode of the BBC’s Bargain Hunt as the programme’s ‘mystery item’.

Bargain Hunt filmed the episode at the Bath & West Showground Antiques and Collectors Fair in November 2022, and Joseph Lewis, Heritage Coordinator at Somerset Council brought along the item to discuss it with BBC presenter, Charlie Ross.

The object was selected as the episode’s ‘mystery item’ where it was shown to visitors and asked if they could guess what it was and its purpose.

The ‘gloving donkey’ was invented in 1807 and is a device that has clamps and brass teeth to hold the fabric of a glove together for sewers to sew more evenly and quickly.

The SSHC, which is part of Somerset Council, is an archive based in Yeovil – a town which has been home to the glove-making industry since the 14th Century and in the 1950s, the town produced 50% of England’s leather gloves.

Cllr Peter Seib, Ward Member for Brympton, where the SSHC is located, said:

“I was amused to see one of our ‘gloving donkeys’ featured on Bargain Hunt. It demonstrates that our collection is of significant local and national interest.

“The SSHC archive is a great resource for Yeovil and South Somerset and has been fascinating historians and interested groups since it was established in 2004.

“Preservation of Somerset’s heritage is a key priority for the Council and the items entrusted in our care are in safe hands thanks to the dedicated and knowledgeable heritage staff and volunteer team.”

The collection has more than 30,000 objects and 6,000 photographs reflecting the heritage of Yeovil and South Somerset. It includes costumes and textiles, gloves and gloving, fine art, industrial items, archaeology, ceramics and glassware, and coins and medals.

The public are welcome to view the ‘gloving donkey’ and the rest of SSHC’s archive by appointment only, by emailing heritage.services@somerset.gov.uk.

Learn more here: www.visitsouthsomerset.com/listings/museums/south-somerset-heritage-collection.htm.

Interested viewers can rewatch the latest Bargain Hunt episode which aired on Monday, 1 May 2023, on BBC iPlayer here: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001llpt/bargain-hunt-series-64-shepton-mallet-27.

Heritage is an important part of Somerset Council’s Corporate Plan. Providing access to heritage and highlighting the significance of Somerset as a tourism destination are corporate priorities of the Council.

Joseph Lewis, Heritage Coordinator at Somerset Council (left) and Charlie Ross, Bargain Hunt presenter (right) and Gloving donkeys featured on Bargain Hunt as 'mystery item'

About this article

May 2, 2023

Jade Chant


Press Release