Historical information

This is an elegant chemise formerly owned by the grandmother of Mrs Janet Amess and dated approximately 1850. It is made of Limerick lace embroidered on to square net (which is now unprocurable) and it opens at the front. The chemise was an undergarment worn against the skin and underneath the corset therefore fine fabrics were favoured. Limerick lace originated in Ireland with tambour lace which was applied on to net using a very fine hook with chain stitch. A later development was run lace where the design was marked out on net using a needle with cotton thread. The design was then filled using darning and decorative stitches. The Limerick lace industry began in the Irish city of Limerick and blossomed in the first Golden Age of Irish lace making (1820 – 1860) before the onset of the depression and the Potato Famine.

The handwritten note included with this garment clearly illustrates their ongoing interest and the value that the Amess ladies placed upon the history of lace garments.


Churchill Island has a large lace collection, which was added to by three successive generations of the Amess family - Jane, Janet, and Unity. The Amess family owned Churchill Island from 1872 to 1929. Jane was wife of Samuel Amess, who was the first Samuel Amess to own Churchill Island. The examples of lace are notable for their variety, and provide respresentative examples of techniques from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

Physical description

Limerick lace, open at front. Square net.

Inscriptions & markings

Packed with note"Real Limerick Lace undergarment" and two notes in Janet Amess' writing see 0036