Silk bodice worn by Hannah Henderson

Contributed by: Newcastle Museum

Wedding dress bodice worn by Hannah Henderson Bodice back detail Busk inside neck of bodice Busk detail Hook detail inside centre back Hook and eye detail Hook and eyes on bodice back Cuff detail Detail showing French knots
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Newcastle Museum
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

    Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

Hannah Henderson's bodice, worn as part of her bridal ensemble, is a good example of late Edwardian wedding fashions. It is beautifully made, and incorporates many elements which were popular in this period into its design. These include the high neck with lace edged hem, the puffy sleeves which taper into a fitted cuff at bottom, and a rising waistline. The pleats and tucks on the front (bretelles), embroidered flowers on the front panel and also French knot decoration down each side of the 'V' panel are all indicative of the type of flourishes popular in the early 20th century.

Hannah Henderson is just one of many Newcastle brides who have married at Newcastle's Cathedral over the years. Although her dress is incomplete (only the bodice remaining), it is a poignant reminder of her special day. Significantly, Hannah retained this memento of her wedding, while recycling her wedding dress skirt to make clothing for her children.

Author: Michelle A. Maddison, 1 February 2012.


Ladies white silk bodice with horizontal pleated sleeves and 'V' shaped bib. Sleeve cuffs are tightly fitted and trimmed with lace. The lace collar sits upright, and has metal stays inserted to keep it stiff. There are hard circular embroidered stylised flowers on front lace bib, and French knots running down each side of bodice front. The wide horizontal pleats run down from the shoulder seam to just above the peplum, and extend across the blouse front, where they sit over the top of the sleeves. The bodice is short in the body, and is gathered in at the waist, and has a narrow peplum beneath. The bodice is very feminine and 'floaty', being made from a lightweight fabric.

Link to further information about this object

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Hannah Maria Cook was born in Taree, NSW in 1886, to parents George and Sarah.

The parents of the donor (George and Hannah Henderson, nee Cook) were married at the old Anglican Cathedral in Church Street, Newcastle on September 7th, 1910. The wedding dress comprised a skirt and silk top with tucks, lace and covered buttons.

George and Hannah spent their honeymoon touring Gosford in a hired horse and trap.

When the donor's elder brother was born (15/4/1912, the day the Titanic sank) Mrs. Henderson made baby dresses from the skirt of the wedding dress.

Hannah died in Hamilton, NSW in 1967.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

This wedding bodice has many features which are indicative of late Edwardian fashion, making it a good example of clothing from this period. These features include the high neckline, the high waist and sleeves which is worked from tucks. A popular element of the late-Edwardian style bride was the bretelle. Bretelles were bands of fabric that rose up the bodice often in a 'V' pattern up to the shoulders and even sometimes down the back. The sleeves of the wedding gown were usually bloused at the shoulder and upper arm and then tapered to tighten at the forearm. The necklines of the 1910 wedding gowns were in a dog collar style with a very high ruffled neck.

  1. Place of origin:

    Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    Mrs Hannah Henderson (nee Cook)

  3. Worn by:

    Hannah Henderson

  4. Occasion(s):

    Worn as part of her bridal gown

  5. Place:

    Anglican Cathedral, Church Street, Newcastle

  6. Made for:

    Hannah Henderson

Trimmings / Decoration

French knots run down either side of bodice front.

Horizontal pleats across front of 'V' panel, and these are mirrored in the sleeves, which also have narrow horizontal pleats.

Large vertical pleats run down from shoulders to waist.


Lace collar and front panel (bib), also around cuffs


Embroidered flowers on front panel

Fibre / Weave

Ivory silk and lace

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


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


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

There are two fabric covered metal (steel?) busks inserted into the collar to make it stand up.


Back neck to hem 445 mm
Sleeve length 490 mm
Neck to sleeve head 230 mm
Convert to inches

Cuff circumference = 190mm

Fabric in garment was too fragile to take circumference measurements.

Additional material

Other related objects

A christening gown, made of fabric from Hannah's wedding dress skirt is also in the Newcastle Regional Museum (NRM) collection.


Blouse fabric is fragile, particularly around the lower part of waistline, where the fabric has shattered, leaving a large hole. Some small holes throughout garment, particularly on lower sleeves. There are spots of foxing and discolouration overall. Some loose threads at seams.


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


  1. Discolouration
  2. Brittle
  3. Frayed
  4. Holes
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