Britain's largest collection of Kimonos are being sold - 20 years after a woman brought them to the UK from Japan.

Masayo Long is hoping to fetch up to £800 per garment at the sale - featuring a staggering 140 pieces dating back 100 years.

The languages teacher moved from Japan in 1999 and brought the set with her, which was previously owned by her parents, who were kimono traders.

Incredibly, the intricate designs on the kimonos are not printed but woven into the fabric - and even contain threads of 18-carat gold and silver.

Masayo said: "Until the middle of the 20th century, when Japanese people adopted a Western style of dress, the kimono was what everyone – from the Emperor to the farmers – wore.

"There were kimonos for housework and kimonos for social functions."

Masayo added that some of the kimonos might only have been worn once or twice in her lifetime and were made more than a century ago.

One garment, which carries an estimate of £250 to £350, was owned by 'Lady Kanao' - a relative of Masayo and friend to the Emperor Taishō, who reigned from 1912 until 1926.

She lived near the Emperor's second home in Kobe and would visit him to play music or read poetry.

Another kimono – in orange with a spinning top design – was worn by Masayo as a three-year-old and again at the age of 11.

Some of the older kimonos were also part of a much larger family collection which lost many vintage pieces during the war.

Some were destroyed by bombing while others were traded with farmers for rice when food was in short supply.

Masayo's parents, Masao Sasaki and mother Fukuyo, were kimono merchants in the 1970s and 80s.

They would buy rolls of woven material from Kyoto and sell it to rich clients in Hiroshima to support the family.

The kimonos will be sold at Moore Allen & Innocent's Oriental sale in Cirencester, Glos., on November 15.

The collection also features uncut silk ready to be turned into tailor-made garments.

Auctioneer Philip Allwood said: "Kimonos are often offered for sale here and at other UK auction houses in ones and twos, but I can't recall anyone offering anything like 140 in one go.

"While they are traditional Japanese attire, there is a market for kimonos among European Japanophiles and fashionistas, with Gucci, Zara, and even New Look at Topshop offering their own take on the garment.

"These, though, are the real deal, made from handwoven Japanese silk over weeks or months, and in some cases originally costing many thousands of pounds to buy.

"The craftsmanship is incredible and they are a real thing of beauty to behold, whether they are bought to be worn or displayed."