Every costume tells a great story

Doris Holland at Morpeth Antiquarian Society with clothes from the early 20th century which had belonged to her mother.
Doris Holland at Morpeth Antiquarian Society with clothes from the early 20th century which had belonged to her mother.

Morpeth antiquarian society

The general theme for the short talks on Members’ Night was Clothing of the Twentieth Century.

This got off to a great start with Doris Holland showing a range of clothing, most of which belonged to her mother and had lain for years undisturbed in a large drawer.

Beautiful handmade underclothes, dresses, aprons and lace work, all in white or cream, delighted the members. Doris was wearing a prim blouse worn by her mother when she was a young teacher early in the century.

This was aptly followed by Chris Hudson’s talk on the 1914 Christmas boxes sent by Princess Mary, the 17 year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary to soldiers and sailors fighting in the Great War.

Supported by public appeal, millions of brass boxes were despatched to soldiers and sailors of the Empire, containing ‘home comforts’ and accompanied with notes of love and sympathy. During his illustrated talk Chris handed around the actual box, with some contents, which belonged to a distant relative in the Tyneside Scottish Battalion.

Although Charlotte Houlton believed her mother not to be of a sentimental nature, she had kept baby shoes from the 1930s belonging to Charlotte and her sister. Her sister’s knitted bootees, trimmed with swans’ down, were greatly admired by members. Charlotte also produced a pair of tiny, red leather, buttoned shoes in which she had taken her first steps. A marvellous family photo album showed Charlotte, her mother and the very shoes.

Don Cassells’ Scout shirt from the 1950s, complete with badges, inspired his talk on the Scouting Movement.

From the first Baden-Powell Camp on Brownsea Island, Scouting is now a global movement in 216 countries, with a membership of over 31 million, male and female. Don was pleased to report that his son Alex had been a scout in Morpeth and that his grandson Paddy is enjoying scouting in Sheffield.

A cardboard box hidden in the loft for over 50 years contained the tiara worn by Evelyn Hudson on her wedding day. Evelyn’s amusing descriptions of wedding preparations and clothes culminated in her showing and trying on her tiara and veil. An accompanying photo of Evelyn and her husband David proved that she had indeed been ‘a princess for a day’.

Three dresses from different eras were shown by Pamela Cassells. The original owner of the late 1930s evening dress went on to wear it on special occasions for two decades. This illustrated the austere period around the Second World War when a shortage of labour and materials led to clothes rationing.

Her second dress, a crocheted mini dress, typical of the 60s, had been made and worn by Pamela herself. The purple wool had been purchased from Marie Tweedie’s Wool Shop in Morpeth’s Newgate Street.

The final item of the night epitomised the enormous change in clothing over the century. This was an evening dress in one of the ‘new’ fabrics, polyester. The dress and huge sleeves contained yards of material in vibrant hues of blue, green and purple.

MAS members and visitors were most appreciative of this excellent evening provided by six members of the society.

Visitors will be welcome at the next MAS meeting on February 27, at 7.15pm in St James’ Centre, when Chris Hudson will talk on The Renwicks of Springhill.