Miss Sarah Griffiths' Victorian Wedding Dress

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Date:1879

Description:This is the wedding dress worn by Miss Sarah Griffiths on her marriage to Mr Daniel Browning. They were married on 18 May 1879 at the Wesleyan Chapel in Audley. Sarah's father and Daniel were both coal miners.
Their grandson Bertram Joseph Browning went on to found BJ Browning Ltd, retail chemists of Newcastle in the 20th Century.

The waist of this dress is incredibly small measuring just 20 inches (the average in Victorian times was 20-23 inches). A corset would have been worn underneath to help attain such a slender figure. The dress is actually a bodice and skirt ensemble that appears as one, this meant the skirt could be more easily replaced.

During the Victorian period wedding dresses were lavish and extravagant often decorated with lace and silk. The dresses were meant to showcase the bride’s wealth and her family’s status in society. The dress is moderately decorated with bows, lace and tassels enabling the bride to re-use it with ease.

For most of history many brides did not buy a new dress specifically for their wedding instead made do with their best dress.
The bodice and top are shaped at the front and back to accomodate a bustle which were fashionable 1870-1875 and 1883-1891. This suggests that when this dress was worn in 1879 it would not have been at the height of fashion, and therefore may well have been her 'best dress' which came out for special occasions. It wasn't unusual for those in small towns and villages to be a few years behind the popular fashions of London and Paris.

The colour of the dress was not unusual in Victorian England as many brides wore darker colours, as white was expensive and only the richest of brides could afford it.
Instead many women wore darker colours that could easily hide stains and could be worn again.


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Image courtesy of: Mr A Carbley

Donor ref:NM.1995.25 (22/27488)

Source: Brampton Museum and Art Gallery, Newcastle under Lyme

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