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Dress - Day dress

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

This c1872 grey and white silk pin stripe dress features a high round neckline with eleven decorative blue silk buttons and secured by a concealed line of fifteen hook and eyelet closure. The bodice has decorative blue and green braid over the shoulder and bust and across the base of the bodice. The dress features three darts shaping the dress to the body. The sleeve is cut high but relatively full and tapers to the elbow then flares again in Pagoda like style but ends at the wrist or hand. The skirt opens over the left hip and features a pocket over the right hip. The skirt at the front finishes at the ankle or just above the ground. At the back the bodice features panels shaping the dress into the body and pleated and flared from the waist. At the small of the back is a decorative bow with pinked edges and decorative braid. The skirt at the back is uncommon in shape most likely as the result of modification. It appears to have had panels removed reducing its original fullness. It has a tape inside the back of the skirt that would draw the skirt in creating a bustle like shape . It would appear that the dress had been modified in order to create a more fashionable silhouette most probably in circa 1872. There are three separate pieces of fabric. One is made up into a semi-circular over-skirt trimmed with blue braid and fringing. Two pieces are unpicked skirt gores, one still has its cotton lining attached.
Object Registration
annie elizabeth mclean, samuel renwick, the garrell, caulfield
Historical information
This dress was donated as having belonged to Annie Elizabeth McLean, who worked as a maid to the daughters of Samuel Renwick of Caulfield. Annie was born in Argyllshire, Scotland in 1853. This dress appears to have been originally made circa 1855 and then modified circa 1872. As Annie would only have been two years old in 1855, this indicates that the dress would most probably have been originally made for someone else and later acquired by Annie.

Annie Elizabeth McClean arrived in the Colony of Victoria from Argyllshire, Scotland with her aunts and cousins in 1867, aged thirteen and a half. She had been educated in Scotland and eventually became a personal maid and then companion to the Renwick girl, daughters of Samuel Renwick of Caulfield, Victoria. The Renwicks' home, 'The Garrell' on Glen Eira Road, was one of Caulfield's earliest residences, having been built around 1854. Samuel was a business partner of William Kerr Thomson, a well-known Brighton resident and the original occupant of the North Road mansion 'Kamesburgh'.

During her time with the Renwick family, Annie travelled with them to England, then to Scotland, then back to Victoria. She left the family upon the marriage of the youngest Renwick daughter, then went to the household of Sir William and Lady McCullough until she left to be married to Alfred John Ashfold in 1878.
When Made
Last updated
last Monday at 11:51AM