In March 1844 Sarah Fletcher and James W. Kenyon were married in Bury Parish Church. 120 years later, in 1964, Sarah’s wedding dress and James’s waistcoat were donated to the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection at Gawthorpe Hall, near Burnley.
Over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd November both of these beautiful items returned to Bury Parish Church as part of the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection-curated ‘A Victorian Wedding Revisited’ project, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. We were lucky enough to meet up with the curators during the exhibition and they very kindly allowed us to photograph the display; it was such a privilege to examine the detail of these garments up close.
Prior to the event, curators from Gawthorpe Hall visited Bury Archives to undertake research into the Kenyon family and were accompanied by James and Sarah’s great-grandson, Mike Hopkinson – we met Mike again during the exhibition and he was more than happy to pose beside the bride and groom!
A wedding dress would have been an expensive purchase so they were designed to be worn more than once. On this particular dress the skirt and cape could be detached and worn separately with different outfits.
Mr Kenyon’s family were drapers with premises in Market Place, Bury, so they would have had access to good-quality cloth and haberdashery for the elaborate buttons, trims and fringing. Originally the dress would have been a paler pink colour but has changed over time, gradually transforming into its present deeper, rose-gold hue, which happens to be very on-trend!