The speaker for the March meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society was Mrs Valerie Wilson, Curator of Textiles at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Cultra.
Her talk was entitled The way we wore – a history of clothing and was illustrated by slides of superb lace and other needlework with photographs of people at the turn of the 20th Century wearing garments which demonstrated the styles of which she spoke.
Mrs Wilson pointed out that there was a lack of examples of mens clothing which rarely survived owing the custom of making down mens trousers and jackets for the young males of the family. One slide shown illustrated how two coats had been sewn together to act as an extra blanket for the bed, the traces of pockets still being easily seen.
Slides were shown of a great variety of items – aprons made of raw linen, caps for all occasions (a woman seldom went with her head uncovered and the cap demonstrated her status, widow, for example) and elegant wedding dresses which could be mauve or grey, rather than white, if there had been a recent bereavement in the family.
The arrival of the bustle for fashionable dresses altered the posture of the wearers causing them to lean slightly, forward and giving the cartoonists of the day an opportunity to parody them as pigeons in their newspapers.
The Museum at Cultra is currently completing a programme of equipping each guide at the different buildings reconstructed there with costumes appropriate to the date of the building for which he or she is responsible. Mrs Wilson brought along some examples which included a mans working shirt, ladies shawls and a very elegant cloak all of which had been cut and sewn to the exact specifications of their time from evidence that had been researched.
Thanking the speaker for her very interesting talk, Mrs Mary Breslin, Chairperson, reminded members of the next meeting when Mr. Bob Foy, local historian from Antrim, will speak on the colourful character Bumper Squire Jones of Moneyglass and his family.
Mrs Valerie Wilson, guest speaker at the March meeting.