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Dressing gown

From the Collection of Brighton Historical Society First Floor Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre (Old Brighton Town Hall) Corner Carpenter and Wilson Streets Brighton Victoria

A hand stitched purple pink silk quilted dressing gown with pale pink embroidery from circa 1894. The dressing gown is embroidered from the collar and shoulders though the centre front body to just above the hemline, on the cuffs and remaining pocket in a pale pink Perle thread embroidery featuring leaves and flowers. The entire gown is hand quilted with vertical parallel lines. The gown's neckline features a flat collar and the sleeve head fits on the neat shoulder line. The sleeve head is gathered and full tapering to a loose flat cuff at the wrist. The front of the garment is currently secured by fourteen decorative frogs of two different styles, none of which appear to be original. There is also evidence of a fifteenth toggle that has been removed from the base. The gown's original left hand pocket has been removed and attached to an area around the right breast presumably to patch a hole or obscure some damage. It is unknown when these modifications have been made. The back of the gown features a gathered pink and black concertina pleated silk insert panel from the neck through to the base of the garment. The garment is lined with a very fine pale pink silk over the woollen batting.
Object Registration
clara miller, woolbrook, septimus miller, henry 'money' miller, cantala, gwendoline miller, caulfield, brighton general cemetery
Historical information
This dressing gown belonged to Clara Johnstone Miller (nee Bell, 1866-1910). Clara was the only daughter of Mr James Bell, a councillor of the Shire of Leigh (today a part of Golden Plains Shire) and owner of Woolbrook Homestead in Teesdale, near Geelong. In 1888, Clara married prominent businessman, racehorse owner, racing identity and pastoralist Septimus Miller (1854-1925). Septimus was the sixth of seven children born to Henry 'Money' Miller and Eliza Miller (nee Mattinson). 'Money' Miller was a well known financier and politician and reputedly one of Australia's wealthiest people in his time.

In 1889, Clara and Septimus moved into the house 'Cantala' in Dandenong Road, Caulfield. They had one child, Gwendoline Stewart Miller, who died in 1902 at the age of thirteen of diabetes - a largely untreatable condition at the time (insulin would not be discovered until 1921). Clara died in 1910, aged only 44. Septimus subsequently married Helen (nee Henderson), with whom he had a son, Ronald (1915-1990). The Millers were buried in the Brighton General Cemetery in a large Gothic-style vault.

Upon Clara's death, Septimus sent much of her clothing and Gwendoline's to her mother Mary Bell. Some of these items were passed down to two of Clara's nieces, Miss Mary Bell and Mrs Lois Lillies, who donated them to BHS around 1973.
When Made
circa 1894
Last updated
11 Aug 2019 at 8:21PM