Wedding gown to be worn as part of cup day

Amelia Brockhurst wears the wedding gown of her great-great-great-grandmother Sarah Hiley. It...
Amelia Brockhurst wears the wedding gown of her great-great-great-grandmother Sarah Hiley. It will be on show at the Mid Canterbury Federation of Women’s Institutes wedding dress parade in Ashburton. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Nine-year-old Amelia Brockhurst will wear the blue linen wedding gown of her great-great-great-grandmother this week at the Mid Canterbury Federation of Women’s Institutes’ (WI) annual Federation Cup Day.

The gown, which has a separate bodice and skirt, was worn by 20-year-old Sarah Ann Winifred Clark when she wed William Hiley, at the Tredegar parish church in Bedwellty, Wales on August 28, 1871.

At the cup day members vie for the Rugby Cup, a cup donated by the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union for the WI’s catering efforts during the tour game at the Ashburton Showgrounds on June 6, 1950.

The competitive nature of members shines in their cup day entries in sections of cooking, flowers, craft, knitting/crochet and photographs/colouring.

This year they will also be holding a wedding gown parade, which is open to anyone interested in coming along to watch.

Amelia is one of about 30 models who will take to the catwalk at the Ashburton Senior Centre in Cameron St in Ashburton on Friday, from 10.30am, wearing wedding dresses and bridesmaids’ gowns of yesteryear; many of them worn at the weddings of WI members themselves, but some from past generations.

There are other dresses registered from the 1930s, ’50s and ’60s.

Amelia’s heirloom gown is 1865-style and while some of the detail has worn, or been lost over the years, the quality of the dress belies its truly vintage age of more than 150 years.

The high round-necked bodice has a fringe feature running across it and bold buttons down the centre front.

It is boned, lined and has an original chemise underneath.

It has bell-shaped sleeves and a pleated skirt.

The bride went on to have 14 children, although only seven made it to adulthood and just four reached the age of 30 or older.

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