Historical information

A dress belonging to the family of George Ward Cole in the late 1800s; possibly his wife Thomas Anne Ward Cole or one of his daughters, Margaret or Agnes. George Ward Cole was an early member of the Victorian Parliament and the family featured prominently in Melbourne Society in their time. They established a substantial home known as “St Ninians” at 10 Miller Street in 1841. The family reportedly entertained Melbourne’s first Royal visitor the Duke Of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria’s second son at St Ninians in 1867. In later years St Ninians was subsequently subdivided and later demolished.

Physical description

A hand sewn, brown silk, evening dress, circa 1860, consisting of a bodice and skirt. The bodice features an off the shoulder neckline edged with cream lace. A chevron design of black velvet trim, passes from the shoulders to the centre front waist, then hangs loosely to the hip line. The black velvet trim on the sleeves and the skirt is edged with a black fringe. The bodice (.1) base is finished in a v-shaped front at the natural waistline. There are short puffed sleeves also feature the black velvet fringed trim and lace at the edge along with three epaulette style strips, which pass from the shoulder seam to the edge of the sleeve. Each strip finishes with a decorative bobble. The bodice lining is cream glazed silk with steel boning, cotton tabs sewn into both sides have four eyelets for lacing. The dress has a full, floor length unlined skirt (.2) which is slightly longer at the back creating a modest train. The skirt has horizontal bands of the velvet trim and finishes with a box pleated trim of the dress fabric. The dress is fastened at the back using two connecting rows of black velvet covered buttons.