Cream velvet wedding dress

Contributed by: Glen Innes & District Historical Society

Dress front Dress back
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Object information

Significance statement

A beautiful example in excellent condition of a wedding dress worn by a bride from a prominent local grazing family of the Glen Innes district. The wedding was during the final years of the Second World War and the dress was made of fabric which would have been hard to come by at that time.

The bride, Beryl Foot, and her groom, Lionel Smith, owned and operated a local grazing property 'Oaklands' which was well know for its wool production. They were also highly successfully exhibitors in the local horse and cattle agricultural shows and were regularly featured in the local paper.

The bride was mentioned several times as a prominent sports person, prize winning horse rider and for her contribution to the community.

Her husband also was a prominent sports person and active member of the local racing community. There are a number of items in the collection of the History House Museum In Glen Innes which relate to this garment, including a back velvet coat and the business papers of their property 'Oaklands' which was located in the Graham Valley near Glen Innes.

Author: Wendy G.Watts, 17 th March 2011.


Long sleeved, cream velvet wedding dress with A line skirt and long train. It has a slightly medieval look .

Bodice Back- length at back below waistline, is shaped with 2 darts, has a small keyhole opening at back neck secured with metal hook and eye.

Bodice Front- one section gathered onto the other with seam line from midway down left armhole to centre front. 24 self covered buttons accentuate the line and are ornamentation.

Waist of garment higher at the front than the back.

Sleeves are long and close fitting until near shoulder - a small amount of gathering at the sleeve head. At wrist the sleeves end in a point with 3 same buttons and secured with small metal press stud.

The skirt falls from a small amount of gathering at the front and has 4 gores in the back skirt extending into a long train [The gores provide the fullness]

This garment is not lined at all and there is no indication that there was a lining or stiffening at any time

A wide 20mm piping is inserted between the bodice and the skirt. Has no cord in the piping.

Left side opening placket is secured with 11 small metal hooks and thread eyes.

A velvet head piece of the the dress fabric is trimmed with small coffee coloured seed pearls.

An accompanying photo show that the bride wore a long tulle veil attached to the headpiece

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Beryl Mary Foot born 2/2/ 1917 in Glen Innes

Parents - William Arnold Foot & Anita Clementina Rivers

Sister: Loraine

Brothers :Harry, Max, Eric

Married Lionel Lewis Smith - 26th August 1944

No children. Died 26th (?) March 1971

Lionel Lewis Smith born 29/3/1909 in Glen Innes

Parents: William Smith & Ethel Maud Lewis

Sisters : Sybil , & Mavis

Brother: David

Married 1.Beryl Mary Foot- 26th August 1944

2.Noel Ivy Davidson - 14th June 1974

No children from either marriage.. Died 25th September, 1999

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

The family of Beryl's husband [ Lionel Lewis Smith] have lived for several generations and are still living in the Glen Innes district, in an area known as Graham's Valley. Some descendants of the family still hold property in the Mt. Mitchell area. Lionel and his brother Dave were Devon Cattle breeders and wool growers. He won numerous wool & cattle prizes at shows

The History House has various documents to do with the properties they owned.

Lionel was also prominent in local sporting circles and mention is made in the Glen Innes Examiners of the day of his athletics, cricket, football and horse-event ability in the Graham's Valley, Dundee, Mt. Mitchell areas of Glen Innes.

He was also involved in the local P & A Show Society.

Beryl was a horsewoman and also a member of the local P & A Show Society Ladies Auxiliary

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

This garment is one of 2 that are in the museum and are related to the family mentioned. The other wedding gown which is also going onto the register came from the Fakes family. The Lewis /Fakes /Smith families are all very much associated with the local area and the other wedding dress from 1910 was worn by the aunt of Lionel Lewis Smith. She was Margaret Sarah May Lewis who married Walter Herbert Fakes of Stonehenge,an area close to Grahams' Valley.

These families are still part of the local community and play an active part in the ongoing life of the Glen Innes district.

Where did this information come from?

The niece of Beryl and Lionel, Mrs. Loma Wright nee' Smith donated the dress to the Glen Innes History House and has supplied various documents which have been copied and included in the archives of the Research Centre. The couple are mentioned many times over the years in the local newspaper, The Glen Innes Examiner and information on the electoral rolls, shire documents are also available

This garment has been exhibited

Only exhibited as part of a small exhibition held at the Land of the Beardies History House & Research Centre, Glen Innes NSW in Sept. 2010.

  1. Place of origin:

    Glen Innes, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:

    As Silk velvet [German] would have been very difficult to purchase at the time this garment was made, owing to war-time restrictions, I feel that there are 2 options concerning it's origin.

    1. The bride or a friend or family member had this piece of fabric stored away.

    or 2. It was bought from an old-fashion style Haberdashery Shop which always had pieces of unusual or difficult to acquire fabrics. Such a shop was trading in Glen Innes at that time.

    There is no indication of the cost.

  3. Owned by:

    Beryl Foot and worn by her for her wedding.

    This garment was then passed on to Loma Wright, a niece of Beryl's.

  4. Worn by:

    Beryl Foot

  5. Occasion(s):

    On her wedding day

  6. Place:

    Holy Trinity Anglican Church

  7. Designed by:

    Not known

  8. Made by:

    Not known, but it was made by either a dressmaker or the bride herself. As it was war-time I would imagine that the dressmaker was local. ie. in the New England area.

  9. Made for:

    Beryl Foot for her marriage to Lionel Lewis Smith

Trimmings / Decoration

24 Self covered cream velvet buttons accentuate the unusual styling on the front bodice

Also 3 buttons on the wrist of each sleeve.






Wide piping [20mm] inserted between waist & skirt of garment. No cord or similar inside piping







Fibre / Weave


1. Cream colour

2 Silk

3. Velvet

4. Entire garment is made from the silk velvet


1 Cream

2 Silk

3. Velvet

4 Decorated with coffee coloured seed pearls

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


This garment appears to have been made by either a local dressmaker, family member or by the bride herself. The finishing of the seams and the method of construction points to this. The buttons would have been professionally covered as all are still intact and are backed in the way that professionally covered buttons of that era were.


No label


No signs that any alterations have been done

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other


The bodice appears to have been cut on the straight as does the front skirt. The back skirt has four large gores. There are seams in the back gores indicating that the fabric wasn't wide enough for them to be cut in one piece

  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Buttons only as decoration.

Hook and thread eyes on back neck and left side opening

Small metal press stud on each sleeve opening

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

There is no evidence of any of the above - no lining in any section of the garment and no stiffening.

The garment may have been worn with a stiffened half slip but there is nothing to show that this was so.


Neck 520 mm
Chest 960 mm
Waist 840 mm
Hip 1040 mm
Cuff 220 mm
Hem circumference 5400 mm
Front neck to hem 1440 mm
Front waist to hem 1030 mm
Back neck to hem 2300 mm
Sleeve length 635 mm
Neck to sleeve head 140 mm
Cross back 380 mm
Underarm to underarm 460 mm
Convert to inches

The actual measurement of 'back neck to hem' includes the train as it is difficult to find the actual length of the back to the floor -approx 750mm from floor level to longest point.

Same with the cuff circumference -220mm including peak approx. 190mm without peak

The vertical measurements include the approx [750mm ] length of the train.

Sleeve length -from underarm 480mm- from shoulder including peak 635mm.

Velvet of that era was usually only narrow width 900mm but it is difficult to determine the fabric width of this garment.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

A photograph of Beryl Foot on her wedding day in this dress is included.

Copies of their marriage certificate and Lionel's parent's marriage certificate are in the archives at the History House.


Evidence of repairs

There is no evidence of any alterations or repairs to this garment and it is quite clean although I don't think it has been dry-cleaned.

Insect damage


Mould damage



  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor
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