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Brighton Historical Society Brighton, Victoria

Brighton Historical Society was founded in March, 1963 for the purposes of forming a historical society in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton. Today the Society has about 200 members.

Contact Information

location
PO Box 266 Brighton Victoria 3186 (map)
phone
+61 03 9553 8650

Contact

Opening Hours

The rooms are open to visitors & researchers on Thursdays, from 12 noon to 5:00 pm

Entry Fee

Entry is free. We undertake email and written research requests for a fee of $20 per hour which includes photocopying and postage

Location

First Floor Brighton Arts and Cultural Centre (Old Brighton Town Hall) Corner Carpenter and Wilson Streets Brighton Victoria

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The Bayside community is fortunate to have an extensive collection of costume, representing social life and fashions in our local area from early settlement through to the modern day. Our costume collection is of State significance and is the most comprehensive collection of costume in any historical society or small museum in Victoria. 

The collection includes children’s wear, evening gowns, dresses, hats, gloves, shawls, nightgowns, underwear, menswear, fans, shoes, swimwear and handbags. 

The Brighton Historical Society will loan costume to recognised organisations that use current conservation techniques. We have previously loaned items to the Bayside Council for an exhibition at the Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre and to the National Trust for exhibitions at Rippon Lea and Como House. 

We welcome donations to our costume collection. Items are assessed and accepted on the basis of their relevance to the ongoing history of the area, their connection to Brighton or their rarity.

History
Costume has been donated since the Society began in 1963. Some was even purchased in the days when Victorian items were still to be found on sale in local op shops. The origins and size of the collection are attributable to the foresight of the founder of the BHS, Mrs Rosalind Landells OAM. 

In the early days little was known of conservation techniques but as time progressed and we became aware of the treasures held, methods were implemented by volunteers to care for the costumes in the best way possible using available funds. 

Four conservation friendly wardrobes were purchased from the Performing Arts Museum to house the collection and later a Bayside Council Grant enabled us to have six more wardrobes built. Volunteers triple washed unbleached calico in pure Lux soap flakes before sewing covers for costumes and for coat hangers. Some acid free boxes were purchased from Zetta Florence to store our most important items. 

Thanks to a 2017 Local History Grant from the Public Record Office Victoria, we have been able to further improve our collection storage and records, and share more of our fascinating costume with the public. Items are continually being added to Victorian Collections, and a community workshop is being planned.

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Bonnet

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

A hand sewn ivory cotton, embroidery anglaise child’s bonnet from the late 1800s. The bonnet fabric design combines features a combination of narrow pin tucking and embroidered flowers on a vine. The bonnet edge is finished with a double-layered delicate gathered lace ruffle around all the edges. The bonnet secures under the chin with a delicate tie made of a similar but plain fabric.

Historical information

A cotton bonnet belonging to the family of George Ward Cole’s in the late 1800s. 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.

Dress - Day dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

A white, mauve, purple, red, and green paisley / floral printed cotton day dress from circa 1820. The day dress features a wide scooped neckline, with a dropped shoulder line. At the head of the sleeve is has three lines of gathering creating a narrow arm hole around the shoulder, flaring out into a leg of mutton sleeve. The sleeve finishes neatly at the wrist with a cuff that secures with two brass hook and eye closures. The dress bodice is open at the centre front and secures with six hook and eye closures to the empire line waist. Over the breast on either side of the opening are six diagonal pleats, pressed and secured facing towards the neck. This pleated detail is on a facing that extends from shoulder to shoulder and finishes with a bound edge. The remainder of the front bodice is plain and secures to the skirt at the empire waistline. The skirt pleats onto a binding, wrapping around the torso and securing to the bodice with eight hook closures. At approximately knee, height the skirt has an additional gathered flounce with the dress finishing at approximately ankle length. From the back, the bodice is plain and the skirt is gathered and sewn to the bodice at Empire line. Alterations to the garment have been made with the addition of hooks and eyes. The garment is generally in good condition although the skirt at the front shows evidence of damage and subsequent repair.

Historical information

This dress has had three owners documented by letters as it was passed between Reynolds family members as a family heirloom before being donated to the Brighton Historical Society. It was made in England circa 1820 according to one of these letters received with the dress from the donor. However, the dress style appears more indicative of the late 1820’s.

Significance

The donor of this dress donated this dress accompanied by three letters between family members as the dress was passed from generation to generation. These letters paint a picture of the significance of this dress within this family and its journey from England to Australia. In these letters there are also comments of gentle guidance as to how to dress your hair and accessorize appropriately with this dress. The letters are also held at Brighton Historical Society.

Smock

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Agricultural worker's hand-loomed linen smock, dyed brown. Fully hand-stictched with smocking details on front and back and sleeves. Opening at front and back neck area fastened with now missing buttons.

Dress - Wedding dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Wedding dress made from cream silk purchased in China. The bodice is made of fine silk embroidered tulle with a vest of cream silk that floats over the top. The skirt has been permanently pleated, has has floating side panels of tulle and features a large butterfly-shaped bow at the back.

Historical information

Worn by Elizabeth Goodwin of Liverpool, England, who married Horace Book at St Andrew's Church, Brighton. The fabric was purchased by her father, who was a ship's captain when he was in China. The bride had her dress made in Liverpool and made to a Butterick's pattern. Elizabeth was very active in public life and a well-known member of the Book family.

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Three quarter length chamois dress circa 1974. Machine stitched with a v-neck and full length sleeves and an uneven raw hem, the dress is decorated with narrow thongs of chamois embellished with red beads and blue feathers. The open-fronted bodice is laced with red ribbon and the skirt is decorated with a large blue wool cross stitch and a combination of blue wool and purple ribbon cross stitch. Made in the style of an Indian 'Wild West Dress'.

Historical information

Worn by Councillor Di Lopez when she was Mayor of Brighton to the Mayoral Ball held at Brighton Technical School c.1976.

Significance

The dress is significant because it was worn by the Mayor, Di Lopez, to the Brighton Mayoral Ball. In wearing such a radical dress Di Lopez was making a public statement, breaking away from the tradition of wearing stuffy, formal gowns and bringing the Mayor's office into the 1970s.

Inscriptions & Markings

None

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Cream coloured raw silk dress. Lower part of skirt hand-embroidered with floral design. Black and white striped silk collar and placket at front opening with 17 black decorative buttons. Two rows of thick cording insetred into casings around waist area which control the gathering in the skirt.

Scarf - Victory scarf

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Victory scarf with the flags of France, the United Kingdom, USA and the USSR. 'Victory' printed in yellow in the centre surrounded by names of countries and regions.

Historical information

The scarf belonged to Olga Black who was born in Melbourne in 1930.

Hat - Top hat

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Black plush silk top hat with cream silk lining and leather and padded cloth interior bands. Black wool band.

Historical information

Established in 1773, Christys' still manufactures men's hats.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, printed in blue on crown silk lining: ENGLISH MANUFACTURE / CHRISTYS' LONDON'

Head dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

A hand sewn cream lace cap from late 1800s. A silk satin ribbon that encircles the back of the crown of the head, creates the structure of this cap. Towards the front it also has a net and wire-reinforced peak. Over the top of this support is a central diamond shaped lace piece of seven and a half centimeters diameter to which is attached a fine lace net that is gathered and stitched around the edge of the central lace. Two decorative bows of the same silk satin fabric are positioned on the support over the top of the lace at either temple of the wearer.

Historical information

A lace head dress belonging to the women of the family of George Ward Cole’s in the late 1800s. 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.

Inscriptions & Markings

W-COLE hand stitched on inside of band. It is unknown when and by whom this inscription was made.

Jacket - Evening jacket

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Evening jacket made of gold metallic fabric. Deep cross-over front with curved peplum and flared cuffs. Peplum and cuffs feature 7 rows of pale blue stiching. Lined with pale blue silk.

Dress - Evening dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

A hand and machine sewn cream, pale blue, orange and gold embroidered satin formal dress, the bodice dates from circa 1890. This dress shares a skirt with T0004.3, which dates from a different period. The bodice features a high scoop neckline with gathers at the base of the scoop and directly below where the bodice finishes creating fullness over the bust. The bodice front encloses the bust with a right panel over the top of a left panel and securing with two hook and eye closures over the left shoulder. The panels are secured together with 15 hook and eye closures. The sleeves are set neatly on the true shoulder and are elongated full puffs to just above the elbow. The fullness is created by nine pleats from the top of the shoulder over the back of the shoulder. At the base of the sleeve the fullness is gathered just above the elbow. At the centre back of the bodice are four inward facing pleats running from the centre neck to the waist. The bodice is secured around the waist with a tape and four hook and eye closures. The bodice is boned around the sides and back of the torso with eight bones. This bodice is finished at the waist with a pleated cummerbund of the dress fabric that is designed to appear to be a sash with two decorative bows. One front left of centre and one back right of centre. The skirt secures at the waist with an opening to the left of centre at the back. The skirt gathers tightly at the centre back with a dart on either side. The skirt has a front central panel and the skirt falls to floor length. At the back, the skirt is also floor length. The back of the skirt may have been modified at some time and may have originally finished in a train. It would be more appropriate to the period of the bodice, and the believed use of the dress with a train.

Historical information

The donor and family of these gowns were long term Brighton residents, and the gowns were held by them as family heirlooms prior to donation to Brighton Historical Society. The gowns are believed to have been brought to Australia by a half brother James Smith Adams or a younger sister Sophia, of the understood original owners of these dresses, Elizabeth Emma Adams and Cecelia Elizabeth Adams, although they travelled to Australia separately. Elizabeth Emma Adams and Cecelia Elizabeth Adams were the daughters of James Smith Adams (a Squire) and Elizabeth Emma McTaggart of Tower House, Woodchester in Gloucester. A property which Elizabeth Emma later inherited. Elizabeth Emma Adams was born on 30th June 1828 at Tower House, Woodchester, Gloucester, England and died on 1st May 1909. Elizabeth created a scandal when she eloped with her first husband, Thomas Charles Gardiner at the age of 18, a marriage thats validity was later formally investigate and confirmed as valid but a second church wedding was also held. Thomas Charles Gardiner died in 1878. She subsequently remarried Rev. R.E. Blackwell but was widowed again by 1889. Cecelia Elizabeth Adams was born on 17th December 1826 and died in 1902 a spinster recluse in England. At the inquest into Cecelia's death in 1904 it was revealed that she had clearly come from a family of means as her home was filled to the brim with highly valuable goods, many in boxes. She was buried in the family vault at Woodchester. James Smith Adams was christened on 25th December 1780 at Woodchester and died 19 March 1860. His wife Elizabeth Emma McTaggart was born on 21st April 1793 in Calcutta and died on 23/12/1843. Elisabeth Emma's second son, George Henry Somerset who inherited the Adams family estate dropped the i in Gardiner and added the maiden name of his grandmother. Therefore the family name has now become Gardner McTaggart. Tower House, originally a monastery was converted into a stately home after The Reformation. Sophia Adams became a nun in England in 1851 before migrating to Australia. In 1883 Sophia went to Adelaide and founded a Dominican Priory there (Believed to be St. Dominic's Priory in North Adelaide), using her inheritance to build the Priory's Chapel.

Significance

According to information originally provided by the donor, these two gowns were made for Elizabeth Emma Adams and Cecilia Elizabeth Adams, to be worn at the young Queen Victoria’s first “Drawing Room Ball” following the end of court mourning in 1838 for her uncle William IV who died in 1837. In 1838 Cecelia would have been 12 years old and Elizabeth Emma would have been 10 years old. It is possible that the dress T0004.2 was worn by one of the girls to this event. The dress is of appropriate dimensions for a child of that age although it’s design is very formal and adult. However, it is unlikely that either of the girls wore dress T0004.1 due to the size and styling of the dress. It is likely that the dress belonged to one of the girls but was worn at a later date. After the death of the girls mother their Uncle James McTaggert gave the girls much of his attention and may have taken one or both of them to such an event. These Adams family entries have been updated by information provided by Dr.Herbert Gardner McTaggart, great-grandson of George Henry Somerset in April 2016. Mr McTaggert contacted the society after finding our entries online. Some further information is held by the society.

Dress - Evening dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Full-length knit dress of blue, green and silver patterned lurex with Georges box and receipts. High neck with metal zip centre back. .1 - dress .2 a-b - Georges box with lid .3 a-c - envelope & 3 layby & alteration receipts stapled together & separate delivery invoice .4 - Receipt for dress alteration & delivery charge

Historical information

Belonged to a Mrs E. Hill of 6 Webb Street, Brighton. The dress is an excellent example of mid-1970s evening wear and comes with its original box and dockets.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, woven black on white acetate, centre back: PRINTED BY HAND / Pelilla / MADE IN ITALY Label, printed black on white acetate, centre back: 65% RAYON / 35% POLYESTER / MADE IN ITALY

Bag and coin purse

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Woven cane oval bag with small spherical metal feet and leather handles. Hinges open at top. Inside there is a separate small brown leather coin purse with metal clasp.

Dress - Afternoon dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

A c1878 two piece dress consisting of bodice and skirt. The eau de nil (green) corded silk dress features a high round neckline that secures with hook and eye fastenings and decorative buttons through the length of the princess line bodice to the band around the hem. A watch pocket sits just below the waistline on the left hip. The three-quarter sleeves are narrow with kilted pleat trim on the lower edge and decorative buttons. At the back of the dress is asymmetric in its cut. The dress splits along the right hand side and finishes shorter with pleating and has a decorative pocket. A bow sits at the top of the split. The underskirt fastens on the left hip and features kilted pleats along the base of the skirt and train. The train features additional fullness created by a section of gathering in the centre.

Historical information

This dress is believed to have been worn on the Goldfields of Victoria. The discovery of gold in Victoria ranged between 1851-1879.

Significance

This dress is believed to have been worn on the Goldfields of Victoria. The discovery of gold in Victoria ranged between 1851-1879. There are few remaining examples of clothing worn on the Victorian goldfields.

Skirt

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Pink floral patterned quilted polished cotton circular skirt with two patch pockets.

Historical information

The Malbourough Classic label was a house label of David Jones Department Store.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, woven grey and yellow on white acetate, centre back: A Malborough Classic

Parasol

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

A c1878 eau de nil (green) silk parasol. The parasol canopy features a decorative gathered frill, a pale green silk lining and a scalloped edge. The wooden handle is painted pale beige with a bone ferrule.

Historical information

This parasol is believed to have been used on the Goldfields of Victoria. The discovery of gold in Victoria ranged between 1851-1879. May have been worn with T0011.1.1-2, Afternoon dress.

Significance

This parasol is believed to have been used on the Goldfields of Victoria. The discovery of gold in Victoria ranged between 1851-1879. There are few remaining examples of similar items used on the Victorian goldfields.

Outfit - Three-piece woman's outfit

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Three-piece woman's outfit comprising double-breasted cape, cropped sleeveless top and skirt; cream wool woven with silver lurex. Top is decorated with a centre front fabric bow and is decoarated with fake pearls. All items lined with cream polyester. .1 - cape .2 - top .3 - skirt

Historical information

Overend collection. The Overend family lived at the heritage listed 'Chevy Chase', 203 Were Street, Brighton, built in 1881.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label printed black on white acetate, centre back cape, top and skirt: DESIGNED AND HANDWOVEN / BY / Robert Maltus

Jacket

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Dior-inspired suit jacket. Unlined. Six cloth buttons with bound button holes. Inside hip pads.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, woven brown on cream acetate, centre back neck: Ponce De Leon. Handwritten on label in black pen:43 LANDELS

Dress - Child's dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

White cotton cutwork child's dress, hand stitched. Back opening with drawstring neck and waist.

Cloak

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Unlined taupe silk cloak with two wide horizontal bands of black satin and lozenge-shaped black cord detailing. Black satin tie collar with black tassels at ends.

Bag - Bag

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Oval shaped bag made from armadillo leather with head and feet attached. Leather straps may be a recent addition. Metal clasp. Mirror on inside of lid. Interior lined with blue silk.

Skirt

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Blue cotton circular skirt with white cord design of men and women dancing around the hem. Fastens with a metal sip in left proper side seam.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, printed red on cream cotton, centre back: Milton Harding / MELBOURNE / GUARANTEED TAILORED / & HAND FINISHED (image of skirt)

Dress - Day dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Two piece day dress of mulberry figured silk. The dress comprises a separate bodice and skirt. The bodice fastens centre front with fabric covered shank buttons and has twelve bones encased along the interior seams and darts. Two piece fitted sleeve and high stand collar. Bodice is backed with a caramel coloured printed cotton. The skirt has a slight train and is backed with a caramel coloured twill-woven cotton.

Historical information

Worn by Mrs Lilias Parker (nee Johnston), born 1820, died 1904.

Dress - Day dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

A grey green c1878 dress comprising of matching jacket and skirt. The jacket features a standing collar that gathers to a low point at the throat. This point is concealed behind a bow with raw edges which may not be original. The centre front of the jacket has been secured with nineteen concealed metal hook and button holes. The centre front features fifteen sets of single fabric covered glass buttons secured in a diagonal pattern and appearing as double headed buttons. From the shoulder through the body the jacket is shaped with decorative panels with grey silk detail. Beside these panels shaping into the waist and under the arm are a further two pleats. On the left side waist is a small pocket with decorative flap, grey silk trim and button. The base line of the jacket features a decorative horizontal panel that wraps around the jacket. The sleeve head is small and sits on the natural shoulder line with a slim fitting, curved, full length sleeve. At the base of the sleeve, there is a decorative panel reminiscent of a formal cuff, with a decorative turn back and two buttons. Secured underneath this turn back is a bow like decoration. From the back the jacket features a V shaped decoration, an extension of the front two decorative panels. From the shoulders the jacket is shaped by four panels curving tight into the waist and flaring out again to fullness of the bustle. These seams are also finished with decorative binding.This peplum like shape features two decorative flaps and six covered buttons. The skirt is shaped to the waist with pleats and secures on the front left hand side, the original waistband and fastenings have been replaced. The skirt front features a large decorative panel of the same fabric that curves from the front at approximately shin length, upwards towards the back securing underneath the bustle decoration. A second panel, plus a pleated panel finish the hem of the skirt continuing around to the back. At the back the skirt features two deep pleats with a large decorative bow that would sit out over the bustle. The skirt is long featuring a small train at the back. The dress is lined in a brown waxed cotton.

Historical information

Our records indicate that this dress was owned by Marion Jeanne Stokes (1877 - 1936) nee Wooling from Gisborne. Marion was married to Clive Devlin.

Significance

This dress is believed to have been worn on the Bendigo goldfields in c1878. This dress may have been worn as a wedding dress.

Inscriptions & Markings

n/a

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Printed cotton maxi dress with long sleeves. Print of red, navy, white and green spots. Shirtmaker front which fastens with three covered buttons.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, woven maroon on cream acetate, centre back: Imported / from Italy / BY GEORGES / OF COLLINS STREET

Dress - Wedding dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Ivory satin dress with train overlaid with machine made lace. High, gathered neckline, leg-of-mutton sleeves, In-built padded hip rolls. Front of dress is decorated with wax flowers.

Historical information

Worn by Edna Emily Seehusen when she married William Alexander McQuilten. Married September 1947 at Brighton Congregational Chruch, Black Street, Brighton.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, woven pink on cream silk, centre back neck: A / Dorothy Draper / Original / EXCLUSIVE TO / BALL & WELCH LTD. / MELBOURNE

Dress - Evening dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Two-piece evening dress comprising separate bodice and skirt made of gold-coloured silk damask woven with large curvilinear design in cream. Cream tulle trim around neck embellished with beads and artificial pearls. Similar trim down centre front and around lower edge of bodice. Short puffed sleeves Neckline trimed with wide gold satin riboon and bows. Bodice is boned and fastens centre back with hooks and eyes. Gored skirt pleated into waist. .1 - bodice . 2 - skirt

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, woven blue on cream, centre back bodice: George & George Ltd / Federal Emporium / Melbourne

Cape

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Black silk satin cape with corded design. Black fur trim on collar, centrefront openings and hem. Lined with quilted black silk. Watch pocket on left proper interior. Wool interlining.

Evening dress and bag

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

Black silk satin sleeveless full-length evening dress. The attached bodice floats over the top of the under-dress. Asymmetrical opening on bodice which features five large flat self-covered buttons. The black suede bag has chrome fittings and buttery cream coloured satin interior.

Historical information

The dress was worn by Mrs Dot Paroissien in the 1950s. She remembers wearing it to a ball at the Royal Exhibition Buildings for Wesley College. The black suede bag was bought in London for her by her husband David. Dot wore suede shoes with a medium heel with straps across the instep and long white kid gloves. She wore a baguette chocker and drop earrings.

Inscriptions & Markings

.1 dress - Label, woven black on white acetate centre back: CROYDE / MELBOURNE .2 - bag - Label, printed, black on cream acetate, interior pocket: Susan / HANDBAGS / LONDON; Label, printed, copper on black metal, interior pocket: MADE IN ITALY / FOR SUSAN

Dress

Brighton Historical Society, Brighton

White cotton high-waisted maxi dress printed with black spots and trimmed with red ric-rac. Elbow length sleeves. Fastens with centre back zip.

Historical information

Overend collection. The Overend family lived at the heritage listed 'Chevy Chase', 203 Were Street, Brighton, built in 1881.

Inscriptions & Markings

Label, printed black on white acetate, centre back: JILLIAN / OF / MELBOURNE