Object Record

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Object Name Dress
Description Mid brown /tan silk bodice of wedding dress with 20 exquisite little buttons. Matches 977/44.3 skirt and other bodice 977/44.1

NECK Small standup collar 40mm high and slightly rounded at opening. One hook/eye on collar. Stain on inside right hand side.

FRONT Bodice of midbrown silk has centre front opening with 20 tiny buttons of brass with inset of mother of pearl (?) held in place by tiny brass flower design. Buttonholes are stitched by hand. Two vertical waist darts each side. Front has point that finishes below the waist.

BACK has princess shaping with centre back seam and 2 seams each side from the armhole to give the shaping. Centre back has point that finishes below the waist. Back centre seam is 490mm long.

SLEEVE is long straight and set in. Gathers at top of the shoulder giving slight puff to sleeve. No cuff or decoration. Two seam construction.

CONSTRUCTION Bodice is lined with brown twilled cotton which is sewn in at all seams. Boned in 9 places including both vertical seams each side front, the side seams, the back shaping seam near the side seam each side and the centre back. Inner waistband of tweed material has 2 japaned hook/eyes. Machine sewn main seams but buttonholes and seam edges carefully over sewn by hand. See photo 977442e.

Inside on back centre seam is small white label 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.


DATING CHECKLIST silhouette 1870s and 1880s bustle skirt, fitted bodice and small waist.
1870s jacket style with peplum(?), high collar, front button closure, lined with cotton, set in sleeve, vertical waist darts, boned but does NOT have straight sleeve with deep cuffs or natural waistline. Inner waistband later feature.
1880s jacket style pointed front and back, long straight puffed at shoulder sleeve, front button closure, lined set in sleeve, vertical waist darts, boned and inner waistband.
This bodice could have been made at later date (1880s) to fit changing fashions while bodice 977/44.1 was worn at wedding - style matches date better.

ilk, long sleeves, plain, Storage re hung on padded hanger Needs new cover
USE Exhibition has been exhibited Fits Wedding exhibition
Date 1873-1885
Catalogue Number 977/44.2
Dimensions W-74 L-46 cm
People Groundwater, Catherine
Groundwater, Thomas