Object Record

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Object Name Dress
Description Mid brown/tan silk bodice of wedding dress with rust brown satin trim.

NECK Small standup midbrown silk collar with dark blue velvet lining (stitched on by hand). Has rounded edges with brass hook and sewn bar.

FRONT of mid brown silk bodice has centre front opening with brass hooks and hand stitched holes. Three small bows of the mid brown silk edged with the rust brown satin ribbon decorate the front. From the last bow down the front opening which finishes in a point,
is also edged in the rust brown satin ribbon.

Down either side of the front is a mid brown ruffle (with pleated part facing to the arms) and held in place by the rust brown satin ribbon which has a double pleat. Edges are pinked only and cut into van dyked scallops. This ruffle goes over the shoulder and ends at the back near the sleeve. At the hem of the front the ruffle continues towards the back with ruffle forming a scalloped hemline which gives a mock waistcoat effect. Front is shorter than back being only 440mm long.

BACK has no central seam but has princess shaping to the armhole. The side seam is further towards the back than normal. Ruffles come over the shoulder from the front and follow the line of the sleeve finishing at the side seam. Back has a peplum which flares out (to fit over a bustle) Two rust brown satin covered buttons sit on the princess shaping seams at the natural waistline. Peplum has central box pleat slightly overlapped by inverted pleat to each side. All is trimmed with ruffle and rust brown satin ribbon trim.

SLEEVE Long set in sleeve has 2 seam construction with sleeve slightly curved. Shoulder seems quite wide especially with rufflke which forms a small epaulette. There are no gathers at the shoulder. Just below elbow is ruffle as for front of bodice with pinked van dyked edge pointing upwards. It then follows the seam to the hem of the sleeve. This gives the appearance of a deep mock cuff. There is also a small bow like those centre front near the hem. Some of ruffle edge is caught in seam left hand side. Sleeve is 520mm long and hem circumference 230mm.

CONSTRUCTION Main seams are machine sewn but there is also alot of handstitching such all the ruffles are sewn on by hand. Garment is not boned. Garment is lined with starched brown cotton but sleeves and peplum are lined with the same brown twilled cotton as bodice 977/44.2. There are 2 vertical waist darts each side of front.

Inside garment is small white tag with E C 150.91 Hurdley written on it.

Wedding dress
belonging to Catherine Groundwater
c. 1873 with additional bodice c. 1885

Catherine McLean married Thomas Groundwater in 1873 wearing this tan-coloured silk dress. Little is known of the couple but they had at least eight children and are both buried in the cemetery at Geraldine. The dress was donated to the South Canterbury Museum by her granddaughter, Mrs Mary Nancy Flowers.

The skirt has been substantially altered with all the decorative trim expected of an early 1870s bustle dress removed. The bodice displayed with the skirt retains the original style and trim. Rust brown silk has been used as a contrasting trim on the bows at the centre front and on the ruffle that falls from the shoulder.

The wide shoulder line and the curved sleeve were typical features on late 1860s and early 1870s dresses. By this time the shape of the skirt had changed from the bell-shaped crinoline to the flat-fronted bustle dresses. The original dress may have had an overskirt with apron front, and draped bustle falling to a train at the back.

The other bodice, which is boned, appears to have been made in the 1880s and perhaps the skirt was altered to match the style of this later date. It is fastened with 20 exquisite little buttons and has the slight puff at the top of the sleeve which was common in the late 1880s.

Date 1873
Year Range from 1873
Catalogue Number 977/44.1
Dimensions W-64 L-55 cm
People Groundwater, Catherine
Groundwater, Thomas