Open gown, 18th century

17th century gown

Fabric woven about 1736-38, possibly in Spitalfields, London, the gown made about 1770-80.

Petticoat, quilted silk, lined with calamanco, mid-late 18th century.

Apron, cotton muslin, with cotton thread embroidery in stem stitch, satin stitch and chainstitch, mid-late eighteenth century.

Some of the earliest costume in the collection dates from the 18th century. This gown is a good example of the informal dress worn by a middle class woman at that time. It originally belonged to Agnes Freeland (1749-1825), a doctor's wife from Kirkcudbright, Scotland. She married the Reverend Dr Robert Muter in 1773 and they had 13 children. The gown was probably Agnes' 'Sunday best' garment, worn for church-going and for visiting friends or neighbours.

Open gowns were often worn with muslin aprons of the kind displayed here. Quilted petticoats kept the wearer warm in draughty 18th century houses.

We do not know why a silk of an earlier period has been made into a gown some 30-40 years after it was first woven. During the 18th century, people were careful not to waste precious materials. Silk was very expensive, so perhaps Agnes Freeland was simply using up some spare fabric when she had this dress made.

Gown given by Miss M Leadley-Brown, 1950

Petticoat given by Mrs FR Hill, 1953

Apron given by Mrs MG Willis, 1960