Museum Consultant Joan Kelly helps volunteers from Lawrence Museum to safely preserve a century-old wedding dress.
Museum Consultant Joan Kelly helps volunteers from Lawrence Museum to safely preserve a century-old wedding dress.

Delicate operation 156 years in the making

FOR some years, visitors to the Lawrence Museum have been admiring a 156 year old wedding gown. But the time has come, for the preservation of the garment to put into storage.

The wedding gown was worn by Elizabeth Dennis when she married Alexander McPhee in 1864. Elizabeth Dennis, was the daughter of Mr & Mrs John Dennis of Ulmarra. She was born on the Parramatta River and came to the Clarence around the time of her marriage to Alexander McPhee. The couple made their home at Lower Southgate, and had thirteen children.

 

Museum Consultant Joan Kelly helps volunteers from Lawrence Museum to safely preserve a century-old wedding dress.
Museum Consultant Joan Kelly helps volunteers from Lawrence Museum to safely preserve a century-old wedding dress.

 

Alexander McPhee died in November 1905 and Elizabeth died on 15th January 1920, at the age of 74. She is buried in the Lawrence Cemetery. At the time of her death, nine of Elizabeth's children were still alive, and she had 34 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

The gown was cared for by her son, Athol McPhee, until his death in January 2001, and was gifted to the museum by Athol's son, Stuart, and his daughter-in-law, Margaret.

The handmade gown is possibly raw silk and Norfolk lace. All fastenings are either press stud or hook and eye.

 

The 156-year-old wedding dress is carefully folded.
The 156-year-old wedding dress is carefully folded.

 

Packing and storing old textiles is a specialised process and Lawrence Museum volunteers were fortunate to have Museum Consultant Joan Kelly on hand to demonstrate the correct process. Museum life member Eulie Allen was delighted with the final result, " Now the wedding gown will be preserved for many more years to come."

While the Lawrence Museum is closed to the public at the moment, the volunteers are working hard creating new displays for the reopening.



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