Wedding dress, 1853

White silk taffeta, trimmed with floral silk brocade ribbon and silk fringing

1853 wedding dress

Accession number 60.225.19

About the dress

This is the earliest white wedding dress in the collections of National Museums Liverpool. The plain silk bodice, lined with white cotton and lacing up the back, is decorated with applied bows and bands of brocaded and fringed silk ribbon.

The three-tiered pagoda shaped sleeves are typical of a style popular during the 1850s, and are finished here with engageantes or removeable undersleeves of Honiton lace. They are not original to the dress but are from the same period. The full skirt, lined with stiffened cotton muslin, is woven with several bands of narrow satin stripes. It would have been worn originally with a number of petticoats rather than the cage crinoline which was not commonly worn until after 1856. The bride would have completed her outfit with a bonnet and lace veil rather than a head dress.

History of the dress

Worn by Mary Plant for her wedding to Walter Wren Driffield, at Prescot Parish Church, on 12 April 1853. Walter was described as an 'attorney at law' and the couple were married by the groom's father, Reverend Charles Driffield, the vicar of Prescot. Mary's father, Thomas Legh Plant, was a surgeon, so the young couple were both from comfortable middle-class backgrounds.

Presented by Mrs P Radcliffe-Evans