Wedding dress; c1879; 1988/186/1


Wedding dress

About this object

Jane Grey wore this dress for her wedding to Walter Gow at her father’s house in Roslyn, Dunedin, on 23 April 1879. Jane was born at Waihola in 1857, the daughter of William Grey who had been a passenger on the Larkins to Otago in 1849. Her father was agent for a business partnership which had a monopoly on water-borne trade from Clarendon until the Taieri River was bridged in 1862. The Greys were thus a prosperous merchant family. Jane’s choice of a husband would have met with her father’s approval. Walter Gow was a son of the founding minister of St Andrews Presbyterian church. He became one of Dunedin’s mercantile elite, a life member of the Chamber of Commerce and heavily involved in the city’s business life. His business status was matched by activity in local politics – he was Mayor of Mornington for a time - and church organisations. The couple were married for 51 years and had seven children. Jane outlived her husband by 18 years, dying in 1948, aged 91.

This is a wedding dress befitting the social aspirations of the bride’s family. It follows the royal custom of a white colour for bridal gowns. The fabric in this case is an unusual silk/wool mix. It is a dress in the fashionable ‘Princess line’ with a tight bodice, dropped waist and narrow profile. The diagonal sweep of the buttoning is very stylish, complemented by the satin bows on the alternate diagonal and ruched panel between. The elaborate swathes of material to the rear are drawn back into a substantial train, complete with tapes for attendants to hold it up. Unfortunately the front panel has been badly stained but this appears to have happened through poor storage, rather than while the dress was worn.

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Bernard Pullon 04 Oct 2014 10:31 AM,UTC

We presently live in the property mentioned in this article so it is nice to think of this festive event happening here all those years ago.

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