Social History

Photo Detective – 1890s

Hazel Crawford recently sent me this lovely photo and asked if I could help with establishing a date. I’m always up for a photo detective challenge! The photo was taken outside Syringa House in Christ Church, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Hazel is particularly interested in the photo as she is currently undertaking a massive renovation project of the house. Syringa is an Early 19th century cottage built of local gault brick and with a pantiled roof.

Hazel made a guess that her photo was of a christening as two small children are being held up to the camera and therefore seem a significant part of the family. However on closer inspection I was able to establish that the photo is a late Victorian wedding photo. It is often easy to overlook a wedding group if a `white gowned girl’ isn’t taking centre stage.

Late Victorian Weddings

The White Wedding was not firmly established during the 19th century. White wedding dresses were a luxury. Brides often wore a coloured day dress, which could be worn again.  It was also common for brides to wear a hat instead of a veil. Photos and newspaper evidence tend to report on the highest levels of fashionable society and therefore give a false impression that a bride always wore a white dress and long veil. In this newspaper report from 1894 the bride wore a fawn travelling costume with a hat to match.

Western Mail 10 Aug 1894


On closer inspection our central lady may not be wearing white, but she is carrying a bridal bouquet and her clothes and hat are trimmed with white.


Some brides did choose to wear white. This fabulous photo of Alma Simmonds was taken in 1897 and demonstrates the latest style of dress for the ’90s. What an amazing waist Alma has! She must have had a good corset. In the 1890s waists were tiny and were combined with top-heavy sleeves and bell-shaped skirts.

Our photo is typical of the 1890s which saw a rise of larger group wedding scenes.  Outdoor settings for wedding photos were more common in the later part of the 19th century.

Women’s Dress 1890s

I have taken a lot of my fashion clues from this very informative book by Betty Kreisel Shubert, which I highly recommend purchasing. It is easy to read and has a wealth of information.


The biggest clues to dating a photo from the 1890s are women’s sleeve style variations.

1890 -1892 The vertical high-top sleeve cap that had begun in the late 1880s lasted through to 1892

1892 The sleeve cap was growing wider horizontally.

A small vertical puff at the shoulder was, a sign that the gigot or leg-o-mutton was developing

Skirts were flared and A-line.

The Bishop Sleeve also grew wider. This photo of Agnes Groboski was taken in 1892 to celebrate her wedding to Frederick William Polglass Perrett in Queensland, Australia.
1895 – 1897 Sleeves were at their most extreme. Huge leg -o’- mutton sleeves were named after their unusual shape. They were formed from a voluminous amount of fabric at the upper arm which tapered to a tight fit at the lower arm from the elbow to the wrist. They had been fashionable in the 1820s and then went out of favour. In this short period during the 1890s the over blown sleeves were designed to accentuate a tiny corseted waist.

Dundee Courier 24 April 1896

In 1896 Agnes Perrett wore the latest fashion in sleeve style when she posed for this photo with her two boys Frederick and Stanley.


 1897 – 1898 Beginning in 1897 there was a change of emphasis at the top of the sleeves. Huge leg o’ muttons were replaced with ruffles, double ball puffs and other top of the shoulder decoration. The sleeve puff began to deflate and withdrew higher up the arm. We see smaller caps and big fanciful ruffles.  


1897 The ball-shaped puff sleeve style arrived in 1897 and variations lasted through 1900. The sleeve was narrow, topped by a separately sewn-on, small (or large)  ball-shaped puff which resembled a lollipop on a stick. The younger fashionable lady on the right of the group is wearing these sleeves. It almost looks like she wants to emphasise that she is wearing the most fashionable outfit  as she has turned away from the camera to show off her puff-ball sleeves and narrow waist.

1898 -1900 The sleeve returned to more modest proportion and skirts had a tulip flare.  A narrower sleeve was fashionable with some detailing at the top of the arm. You might see a small puff, frill or epaulette. Tailor-made suits were worn and we begin to see shirt-waist blouses.


Women’s Hats – 1890s


It is more difficult to date a photo form the 1890s by looking at hat style. Vintage photos show women wearing the same shape of hat throughout the decade. Looking at the sleeve style is usually more informative.

The straw boater or sailor hat was universally worn. Masculine styled clothes became fashionable with the rise of sporting activities for women. It was quite acceptable for a women to wear a boater where once it had been considered too masculine.  


Platter Hats were common. These had slightly larger straight brims than a boater.

Hats tended to be flat with a shallow, wide crown and there was a general trend towards wider hat brims.They were worn straight on or tipping forward.

You often see high, vertical trims in the 1890s.

It was fashionable to wear a hat with a veil. Four of the ladies in our wedding party are wearing hats with veils, which provides a clue to their identity.


Hairstyles grew fuller around mid decade. Hair tended to be waved or rolled back from the face. You begin to see wider brimmed hats that rest plate like on the head and were ornamented with bows, feathers and flowers.

In the 1890s men in their twenties and thirties began to discard the beard in favour of a neat moustache. Older men retained their beards as they represented dignity and authority. The Walrus moustache was the look of the decade.

Men wore a variety of styles of hat including bowlers, boaters and hombergs. The cloth cap with a peak was popular among ordinary working men for country wear.

Identifying our 1890s Bride

I know from Hazel that the Berry family were living at Syringa House, Christ Church, Upwell in the 1890s. From various census returns I found Samuel Berry, a farmer, married to Mary and they had at least 7 children.

Samuel Joseph Berry b 1825 Upwell = Mary b 1829 Pluckley, Kent

Samuel Hugh Berry b 1854 U.S.A

Alice Berry b 1856 U.S.A

Ida Francis Berry b 1860 U.S.A = James Henry Hutchinson m 1905

Clara Elizabeth Berry b 1862 U.S.A = John Francis Corke b 1839 m 1898

Ann Ellen Berry b 1866 Upwell d 1871

Sarah Jane Berry b 1868 Upwell  = Frederick Hyde m 1891

Florence Lucy Berry b 1871 Upwell  d Autumn 1898 = Francis Lidington Corke m 1895

1871 census Christchurch, Upwell

From my research I am dating the photo as sometime between 1897 and 1900. One of the ladies has ball shaped puff sleeves which came in to fashion around 1897. Ida married in 1905 which is too late for our photo. Sarah married in 1891 and this is too early. The oldest ladies are wearing fashions which are at the tail end of Leg O’ Mutton Sleeve Era dating the photo to after 1896. I am making an educated guess that our bride is not Florence either as she married in 1895. I believe therefore that the photo is either of Clara Berry or her sister Alice. I can’t find any records for Alice in the locality. I therefore think our bride must be Clara Elizabeth Berry who married John Francis Corke in 1898 in Pockthorpe, Norwich.

Marriage of Clara E Berry to John Francis Corke – 20 Dec 1898

On closer inspection this is an interesting wedding. Clara was 36 and married John Corke aged 60, a widower with 5 grown-up children. One of John’s children Francis had married Clara’s sister Florence Berry in 1895! Florence and Francis had 2 young children Stanley and John Corke born in 1896 and 1897. Clara’s brother in law Francis had been left a widower a couple of months earlier when her sister Florence died. Clara married her brother in law’s father. The two boys were brought up by Clara and another sister Ida Berry after she married.

1911 census records for the 2 young boys

I would love to go back in time. Did Clara marry for love or duty? Her marriage to a man who was old enough to be her father meant she could look after her deceased sister’s children and her new husband ‘s grandchildren. Clara’s sister Ida and her son-in-law Francis were both witnesses at the wedding. Francis emigrated to the USA and left his children behind with his father and later re-married himself.

The photo is therefore not a celebration of a double baptism as Hazel presumed,  but a close-knit family wedding. The two children are being held up because they are a significant part of the celebration. Stanley and John have just lost their mother Florence and their Aunt Clara is marrying their grandfather John Corke.

I am guessing the photo was taken before the party set off for the marriage ceremony and that the elder groom is therefore not present. The four ladies wearing veils are the Berry sisters and Ida is the sister at the front acting as bridesmaid and dressed the same as her sister, but without the bouquet.

I love knowing the stories behind a photo and doing a bit of detective work.. What a wonderful thing to know the story behind the people that lived in your house. I was very pleased to be able to help Hazel in her quest for information. Please do get in touch if you have an interesting photo for me to play detective with!



1920s – a Head for Fashion

Wedding gowns often reflect the fashions of their era and so photos from the 1920s can be dated by various clues such as sleeve style, neck line and dress length. Some brides did choose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown which can be misleading. However if the bride wore an older style dress she often updated her hair style and veil. In group wedding photos the attire of the bridesmaids and wedding guests can also provide useful information as to the date.

1920s Bridal Head-dress

1920s veil

Bridal Headgear

At the beginning of the Twentieth century Bridal Head-gear was worn much higher than later the in the 1920s.

1900 Rosina Nelson
1907 Rose Merry
1910 Bridal Veil
1918 Dorothy Carter


In the 1920s Mob caps were  fashionable as bridal headdresses. A mob cap was a large cap or bonnet covering much of the hair, typically of light cotton with a frilled edge. Sometimes it was tied under the chin with ribbon and was worn indoors by women in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the Victorian period, mob caps had become the head covering of servants and nurses. However the 1920s saw a resurgence of the mob cap in bridal wear.




 1921 Dorothy Greaves – Mob Cap style headdress and veil

Later in the 1920s brides favoured lace cloche headdresses, some of which would be encircled with flowers. Veils were usually made of silk materials and decorated with flowers and leaves. Orange Blossom was often used to decorate the head-dress.

Tiaras, veils and headbands were all worn low over the forehead in the 1920s.


1922 Double Wedding with veils worn low over the forehead.

A Juliet cap was a small open-work crocheted or mesh cap, often decorated with pearls or beads and worn with evening gowns and bridal wear. The cap was named after the heroine of  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and was often worn with a long cathedral-length veil in the 1920’s. 

1929 People's Home Journal

1929 People’s Home Journal


Western Morning NewsMonday 10 December 1928

1928 Juliet Cap of lace and pearls



In the 1920s White Russian emigres fleeing revolution and civil war influenced the fashion scene. Thousands of Russians fled to escape the Bolshevik revolution and many immigrant women found work in French couture houses using their skills in embroidery and knowledge of traditional Russian patterns. Designs influenced by Russian peasant costumes became popular. One fashionable design was based on a Russian girl’s headdress called a kokoshnik.


In 1922 the heiress Edwina Ashley married Lord Louis Mountbatten  and wore a Russian inspired pointed coronet.


Miss Irene Hill was noted as having a `fashionable wedding’ in India and wore a Russian coronet of orange-blossom.


Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 25 August 1925

I am fascinated by this wonderful photo taken of Helen Fry Kingston wearing a most impressive Russian kokoshnik style headdress at her wedding in Queensland, Australia in 1929.

1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding

1929 Helen Fry Kingston and Francis J Perrett

At another 1929 wedding Minnie East has a much simpler headdress. However it is still worn low down 1920s style.


1929 Minnie East


Western Morning NewsFriday 01 April 1927

1921 Bridal Veil
1922 Bridal veil
1922 Edwina Ashley
1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
1925 Bridal Veil and Orange Blossom
1927 Louisa George Bridal Veil
1929 Minnie East Wedding Veil
1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding Head-dress


Picture Hats


Alternatively a hat was worn by the bride and or bridesmaids. We often see wide-brimmed picture hats until mid decade when the neat cloche became the most fashionable style.

Larger picture-hats were often called vagabond style.


Dundee Evening TelegraphWednesday 12 October 1927


Chelmsford ChronicleFriday 20 August 1920 



1922 Wedding party with wide-brimmed Picture hats


1923 Picture hats


At this wedding reported in 1929 the bride wore a black velvet picture hat and the bridesmaid wore the newer style cloche hat.


Cloche hats


The cloche hat or simply cloche was a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented in 1908 by milliner Caroline Reboux. They became popular from about 1922 to 1933. The name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. A Cloche hat had a basic bell contour with a bulbous crown which if correctly designed could add inches to the height of the wearer. The hat had to be all but pulled over the eyes, making the wearer have to lift up the head, whilst peering snootily down the nose. Brims became smaller as the decade progressed.

1926 Cloche Hats
1927 Cloche Hats

I have found references to not only ivory and black coloured cloche hats worn by brides and bridesmaids, but also a lot of colour.


1925 Edith Punchard wore an ivory lace cloche with clusters of pale yellow flowers


Exeter and Plymouth GazetteThursday 21 May 1925

1925 Bride Hilda Webber wore a blue & silver shot cloche hat trimmed with forget-me-nots.


Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 28 April 1925

1924 small blue cloche hat trimmed with tuft of paradise feathers.


North Devon JournalThursday 12 June 1924


Blue seemed to be a popular colour choice influenced by the royal weddings in the early 1920s. Princess Mary chose blue as the colour for her bridesmaid dresses and the colour became known as Princess Mary blue.


Grantham JournalSaturday 25 February 1922

Many brides wore a veil for the marriage ceremony, but chose to wear a cloche hat to go on honeymoon.

Bridesmaids veils

Another interesting feature of 1920s weddings is that bridesmaids sometimes wore veils! This can make it difficult to distinguish the bride in photos.



1922 Princess Mary’s bridesmaid veils

Nancy Davidson chose veils of primrose-coloured net for her bridesmaids to tone with their primrose coloured chiffon dresses fastened with blue sashes. They carried bouquets of blue delphiniums. I was delighted to have found these descriptions. Black and White photos look so drab and give no impression of the colours.


Sheffield IndependentThursday 20 June 1929

Winifred Griffiths also favoured blue as a colour. Her bridesmaids wore blue  satin dresses with head dresses of blue net fastened with wreaths of forget me nots.


Buckingham Advertiser and Free PressSaturday 25 May 1929


In the 1920s bridesmaids did sometimes wear white veils which were very similar to the bride. While in modern times a bridesmaid is expected to assist the bride, her duties were regarded as of a more serious nature in earlier days. A custom once existed where maidens dressed similarly to the bride would accompany her as her protectors on her way to the groom’s village. This would deflect spurned suitors from kidnapping the bride or from stealing her dowry. Roman law once required witnesses to come to weddings in order to confuse evil spirits as to the identity of the bride and groom. This meant that female wedding attendants came to a marriage ceremony in garments very similar to the bride’s, This supposedly threw off bad luck that could be directed towards an easily identifiable bride and groom. In the 1920s it seems to be more of a case of fashion being influenced by the past than superstition influencing fashion.

Bandeau Headpieces


During the first half of the 1920s women wore decorative bands across the forehead with evening and party dresses and this head decoration was reflected in bridal headpieces. Bridal Fashion introduced Bandeau headdresses in the later 1920s.



Derby Daily TelegraphFriday 07 December 1928 

However clearly this Derbyshire vicar had strong views on `Modern Wedding Attire’. I’m therefore sure that Lady Edith would have kept her veil on for her wedding and not just worn a bandeau.



Flower girls – mob caps and dutch caps

There was also a fashion to have young flower girls in addition to bridesmaids. Little girls carrying flower baskets might wear puff-sleeved dresses and mob caps, emulating  the historical Kate Greenaway style.


Western Daily PressMonday 24 June 1929





1927 Wedding Louisa George

Not only the small flower girls, but also the chief bridesmaid is wearing a simple mob cap at this wedding. I must admit they look like  shower caps to me!


Western Morning NewsWednesday 11 June 1924


1926 Edith Amelia Polglass Wedding


1925  I much prefer the flower girls bonnets chosen by Dorothy Jones

Dutch Caps

Another distinctive bridesmaids head wear was the wired cap with horizontal wings that resembled a Dutch head-dress. This style looks like a fashion faux pas to me. However Edwina Ashley chose Dutch caps for her bridesmaids dresses when she married Louis Mountbatten so maybe I’m missing something!


Western Morning NewsTuesday 18 July 1922







Western Morning NewsTuesday 13 December 1927 

Hopefully I have given a few clues to identifying 1920s wedding photos from the headgear worn.  Next time I will be looking at the dresses themselves.


1922 Double wedding of siblings William and Jane Pomfret




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Victorian Florist-Gardeners

Victorian Epergne

The Victorian Era turned away from the elegance of the Georgian Era and brought houses jam-packed full of clutter. From simplicity and elegance we moved to richness and opulence. At no other time had flowers and foliage been used in such abundance.

Victorian Gardens

The Victorian’s love of order and control influenced a more formal style of gardening. Bedding schemes with plants laid out in rows and colour patterns were seen as the height of style in the mid 19th century. Mid Victorians liked brilliant-hued flowers and strong colour contrasts rather than harmonious colour schemes. Garden design was brash and bold. With the rise of the middle classes and their neat suburban villas, this ‘bedding boom’ reached even the small suburban garden with brash displays in island beds placed right in the middle of lawns.

Waddesdon Victorian Bedding

The removal of tax on glass in 1845 meant that there was an increase in the building of glasshouses and conservatories which coincided with growing and collecting of exotic, tender plants.

Plant hunters and the Wardian Case

The entire 19th century was a period of great enthusiasm for flowers, plants and gardening.  People became avid collectors of certain plants, specializing in popular plants such as geraniums, fuchsias and camellias. A whole range of plants which had never been seen before were introduced. These included South African Gladiolus,  Mexican dahlias, nasturtiums, azaleas, camellias, tree peonies, roses from China, chrysanthemums and fuchsia.  It was the Era of ferns and houseplants.

Victorian Interior

The Wardian case was an early type of sealed protective container for plants invented by botanist, Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward.  It found great use in the 19th century in protecting foreign plants imported to Europe from overseas.  Wardian cases soon became features of stylish drawing rooms. In the polluted air of Victorian cities the craze for growing ferns and orchids owed much to the new Wardian cases.

Wardian Case
Victorian Plants

Primrose in Wardian Case 1858 Greenock Advertiser

1858 Greenock Advertiser

In grand houses the Head Gardener had the important task of arranging large quantities of flowers for the house with flowers from the cutting garden. The Head Gardener often had a Flower Room amongst a group of buildings in the walled garden attached to the glasshouses. The room contained a table close to a window, a sink with a water tap and large cupboards with broad shelves for vases. Sounds like my ideal room for all my flower arranging paraphernalia! This is the first time we saw specific cutting gardens where flowers were grown for pleasure and not just medicinal purposes. In smaller houses the mistress and daughter would arrange the flowers.

Flowers in a Glass Epergne by E. H. Stannard, 1889

Eloise Harriet Stannard, A Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Epergne on a Marble Ledge with Gloves, Wicker Basket and Scissors, oil on canvas, 1889.

George Spice

My great, grandfather George Spice was a gardener. When he married in 1878 George was a gardener living in Sittingbourne, Kent.

1878 George Spice & Maria Coom

In 1881 George had a young family and was gardener at Hempstead House in Bapchild village, near Sittingbourne, Kent. In 1891 he was still a domestic gardener at Hempstead, living in one of the cottages attached to the house.

1891 census George Spice

Bapchild Map

Hempstead House
Hemstead Cottages

During the 19th century rural cottage gardens didn’t really change. I imagine that George would have had a cottage garden at Hempstead where he grew a mixture of flowers and vegetables.

At the latter end of the Victorian Era George moved with his family to Lower Clapton, Hackney in London. It is likely that George started work at the Pond Lane Nursery on Millfields Road.

1868 Lower Clapton

Lower Clapton 1868

Charles Booth Poverty Map 1898

Pond Lane Nursery 1898

The Pond Lane Nursery was sold in 1898.

The First Florists

Until the second half of the 19th century the majority of land close to cities was in use by market gardeners. Nurserymen grew outdoor flowers for market or specialised in growing and selling exotic, greenhouse plants.

Clapton Nursery. London Evening Standard 19 May 1898

  London Evening Standard 19 May 1898

The Early Florists were working men like my Great, Grandfather George Spice.


The newspaper article lists greenhouses in Springfields, Clapton which were growing vines, orchids, palms, acacias, gardenias and ferns. Looking at the photo George may have even worked at Springfield Park.

Gardener Springfields, Clapton Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette 14 Dec 1895

 Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers’ Gazette 14 Dec 1895

Springfield Park Upper Clapton

Springfield House

At the latter end of the 19th century large areas of land which had been market gardens for fruit and vegetables became housing. It was the newly well off middle classes who bought villa type houses in these suburbs. A lot of the growers moved further out. However some nurserymen who didn’t need large amounts of land on which to grow remained. Pond Lane Nursery is an example of a business that was sold to make room for new housing. Interestingly George Spice moved to the area and is at Rushmore Road in the 1911 census. My Grandma was brought up nearby in Elmcroft Street by George’s daughter Ethel and went to school in Millfields Road. The house she grew up in was built on the Pond Lane Nursery land.

George and Maria Spice


28 Elmcroft Street, Clapton 1915
28 Elmcroft Street, Clapton 1915
Millfields Road Infant School, Clapton, London
Millfields Road Infant School, Clapton, London
Big Bows in the hair were fashionable
Bus Horses 1920
Playing bus-horses at Millfields Road School 1920

1911 George Spice

George found new work with the florist and garden contractor Owen Charles Greenwood of 27 Upper Clapton Road, Hackney, London. The householders of the new suburban villas would have been good customers purchasing bedding plants, pot plants and flowers. These suburban nurseries often sold from a bench in an outbuilding, but some nurseries had a shop. Owen C. Greenwood had a shop from which he sold flowers to theatres in London.  Florist Shops would sell seed, plants and a few cut flowers. There would have been more pot plants than cut flowers on display as evidenced by this advertisement. Pot plants were hired out.

Owen C. Greenwood


My Grandma remembered the Greenwood’s florist shop where she used to visit her Grandad George at work.  She described `a large shop with an enormous fountain in the middle’ which she thought was amazing.

Nursery Hackney

Owen C Greenwood gardeners Essex Newsman 14 April 1923

Owen C Greenwood

Owen’s son Stanley Fielder Greenwood took over the business and was still listed as a Nurseryman and Florist in 1939. George Spice always took pride in his appearance and even when retired wore a flower in his buttonhole.

It’s likely that George exhibited some of his employer’s prize blooms at various Flower Shows. Messrs Low from Clapton Nursery had exhibited at the Crystal Palace Flower Show in 1860 showing their recently introduced, exotic plants.

Crystal Palace Flower Show 1860

Crystal Palace Flower Show 1860 p2

George may even have entered the Borough of Hackney’s Chrysanthemum Society Competition himself.

Hackney Chrysanthemum Society. Shoreditch Observer - Saturday 12 April 1879

 Shoreditch Observer – Saturday 12 April 1879

George Spice

Apart from nurserymen florists the Victorian Era is famous for the Covent Garden Flower girls, epitomised by Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

My Fair Lady

Flower girls

By 1851 there were 400 basket women or flower girls on the London streets. Before they set out to sell their flowers, the flower girls sat on the steps of St Paul’s church at Covent Garden and divided the bunches of flowers from the flower market in to small posies. They also made up buttonholes.

5 June 1885 Flower Sellers Pall Mall Gazette

Pall Mall Gazette – 5th June 1885

1891 Patrick Costello attempted murder

Western Daily PressTuesday 30 June 1891

31st July 1891 Hard labour

1904 Hackney Station

Flower sellers worked outside Hackney Railway Station

I like to think that George passed a love of roses onto his daughter Ethel whilst arranging flowers for the lady of the house at Hempstead.

Ethel Spice

Ethel Spice

Flowers in a Glass Epergne by E. H. Stannard, 1889





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April Posy

April Posy

`From Sultans of the Ottoman Empire and Dutch Merchants of the Golden Age, to gardeners today, the tulip has captivated people around the world for centuries. This fascinating flower has inspired artists and brought great wealth and even economic ruin to people who have fallen under its spell.’ The Tulip Museum, Amsterdam.

There are at least 16 different divisions of tulips. My favourite are the more flamboyant, frilly double ones and those that are bi-coloured, rather than the simple single tulips. However single tulips do look great when planted in groups. I had several sumptuous red tulips in bloom in April and they inspired the creation of my Posy of the Month.

Double Late Red Tulip

Red Tulip


Double Late Tulip

Single Early Tulips

Single Early Tulips bloom early in the season (compared to other tulips). They are known for having very strong stems. This means that they will stand up extremely well to wind and rain, unlike some other types of tulips (for example, Parrot Tulips).

April tulips

April tulips

April tulips

Apricot Beauty – Single Early Tulip


Viridiflora Tulips

I have both `Groenland’ and `Spring Green’ Viridiflora tulip varieties. The term Viridiflora is derived from two Latin words: viridis meaning green and flos meaning flower.  All Viridiflora Tulips have a streak of green somewhere on each petal. This contrasts dramatically with the basic flower colour (white, pink, gold, etc.). In addition to this beautiful colour contrast, Viridiflora Tulips are also known for their exceptionally long flowering capability. Some of mine have been known to flower in June!

April tulips

April tulips

Tulipa `Groenland’

April tulips
April tulipTulipa `Spring Green’


Fringed Tulips

Other tulip divisions include the Fringed Tulips. These tulips have petals which are topped with fringes that look like the frayed edge of a piece of satin fabric.

Fringed Tulip
Lily Flowered Tulip
Lily-flowered Tulips

Then there are Lily-Flowered Tulips. These tulips have long single flowers with pointed petals, often curving out at the tips. They flower in late spring.


One of my favourite colour schemes this April has been these jolly orange tulips against the blue of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ and the bluebells.

April orange tulips

April tulips


Double Late Tulips

I have had quite a few double varieties in bloom this year. The blooms of Double Late Tulips have so many petals that they are also known as Peony-flowered Tulips. They flower in late spring.  The blossoms are extremely large; when fully open they can be as much as 4 inches (10 cm) across. The large showy flowers, resemble peonies. They often have weak stems which will not support the large flowers in wind and rain.

April Tulip

Lilac Perfection Tulip

Double Tulip

Double Tulip

Double Late Tulip

Parrot Tulips

Parrot tulips have large, often bi-colored, flowers with frilled and/or twisted petals. They flower in mid and late spring. Their stems are often too weak to support the large flowers so staking is sometimes necessary.

April Posy

April tulip

Rembrandt Tulips

Another variety are Rembrandt Tulips. These tulips are named after the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt  (1606 – 1669), who lived and worked in Holland at about the same time that tulips first became enormously popular. Actually Rembrandt himself is not known for painting flowers! Many other Dutch Masters of the time did include tulips in their paintings.

Jacob Marrel 1640

Jacob Marrel Tulips 1640

Jacob Marrel was a German still life painter active in Utrecht during the Dutch Golden Age. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

During this time, tulips became all the rage in Holland, particularly the ones with streaks and stripes of colour. These types of tulips were bought for huge sums during the so-called Tulip mania that occurred between 1593 and 1637.

We now know that these unusual markings were actually caused by a virus, which eventually caused damage to the tulip bulbs. Because of this, the original Rembrandt Tulips are no longer sold commercially. However, there are quite a few modern, virus-free, Rembrandt “look-alike” tulips available.

 History of the Tulip

Tulips are often considered a Dutch flower. However the tulip was originally a wild flower growing in Central Asia. They were first cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). The botanical name for tulip is tulipa and is derived from the Turkish word tulbend or turban which the flower resembles. Tulips abound in the design of Iznik ceramics. The elegant tulips of Iznik tiles are far removed from bulbous modern-day tulips.  They most resemble contemporary lily form varieties.

Iznik Tulips
Iznik Tiles


The tulip was introduced to Holland in 1593 by a botanist Carolus Clusius, who bought it from Constantinople. He planted a small garden with the aim of researching the plant for medicinal purposes. His neighbours broke into the garden and stole the tulips to make some quick money. This started the Dutch Bulb Trade. Tulip Mania followed. People bought up bulbs to the extent that they became so prized and expensive that the bulbs themselves were used as money until the market finally crashed. As the Dutch Golden Age grew tulips became popular in paintings and festivals. When I visited art galleries in Amsterdam I saw lots of tulips in paintings by the Dutch Masters.

Ambrosio Bosschaert GLASS WITH FOUR TULIPS c.1615 19 x 13 cm. Bredius Museum, The Hague
Ambrosio Bosschaert GLASS WITH FOUR TULIPS c.1615 19 x 13 cm. Bredius Museum, The Hague
Ambrosio Bosschaert – Tulips in a Wan-Li Vase c. 1619
Ambrosio Bosschaert – Tulips in a Wan-Li Vase c. 1619
Jan van den Hecke – Flowers in a Vase 1652
Jan van den Hecke – Flowers in a Vase 1652
Ambrosius Bosschaert Tulips
Ambrosius Bosschaert – Still Life with a Bouquet of Tulips

Ambrosius Bosschaert – Still Life with a Bouquet of Tulips

Beyond the Dutch Golden Age tulips remained a popular design motif in the Art Nouveau Period.

Art Nouveau Tulips

Nouveau Tulips

William Morris also included a lot of tulips in his wall hangings in the Arts and Crafts Movement.

William Morris Tulips
William Morris Tulips
William Morris Tulip Design
April Posy

My April Posy was inspired by looking at the work of the Dutch Masters. I don’t normally take photographs which are low-key as I prefer lighter high-key images. However I’m pleased with my images. I felt that a darker backdrop would show off my vibrant red tulips well. I have arranged them in two different vintage jugs. One is a traditional copper Guernsey milk can. The other was a jug which my Grandmother inherited. I don’t know it’s date or history. However I do know my Gran referred to it as `The Never Forgive Jug’. She felt it had some value and had been given to her grandfather by the lady of a big house where he was a gardener in Kent. It was called this name as no-one would be forgiven if it was ever broken! 

April Posy

April Posy


April PosyApril Posy

April Posy


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Downton Abbey Style Wedding Flowers

1925 Lady EdithI am a big fan of the period drama Downton Abbey and was delighted that Edith Crawley finally found happiness with her marriage to Bertie Pelham.

1925 Lady Edith

As I have been researching social history and 1920s wedding flowers I was particularly interested in Edith’s bouquet and wedding attire. The overall effect was charming. However I am not convinced that the flowers were typically 1920s in style. Edith is carrying a shower bouquet and newspaper articles from the 1920s do refer to `Shower Bouquets’ of roses, lilies and carnations. However over time fashions have produced numerous variations on the traditional shower bouquet.  I feel Edith is carrying a bouquet which is more typical of a late 1980s style shower bouquet, wired into a floral foam plastic holder, than a 1920s Shower Bouquet.

Shower bouquet
1992 Wedding Mandy Homer

Cascading bouquets were originally referred to as shower bouquets in the Edwardian period and replaced the fashion of neat Victorian posies.

1900 Robert & Sarah - Uncle Harry -bridesmaid -Groom Austin & Bride Rosina - bridesmaid & brides parents Mr & Mrs Robinson
Edwardian Wedding Group 5

Victorian Style Posies

Edwardian Shower Bouquets

This style became exaggerated by 1920, with much larger bouquets, so large they almost concealed the bride. They reached their peak from 1920 – 1930’s until WWII.

1929 Wedding of John Asquith and Doris Harrison

1929 Wedding of William Hathaway Jerrett and Theresa Shurrock

1926 Wedding of Edith Amelia Polglass and Charles Arthur Furley

1920s Shower Bouquets

In shape a wired shower bouquet is softly roundish at the top but pointy at the bottom and is designed to spill over the brides hands in a cascade. The shower bouquet also became known as the Princess in honour of the late Princess Diana and her impressive 1980s bridal bouquet.

1981 Lady Di Shower Bouquet

1980s Shower Bouquet

Lady Edith’s bouquet is much neater in shape than any of the shower bouquets I have seen in  original 1920s photographs. The wired shower bouquet was originally made on a moss ball. Sphagnum moss was made into a ball about the size of a golf ball and into this was poked a long hairpin-like wire. Every flower or piece of foliage was then mounted onto a suitable wire and the wires were then made into a handle. The shape was large and loose with trails of foliage.  The trails were bound together with binding wire. Some florists used green silk-covered wire. Gutta tape wasn’t used. Most of the photos I have seen show 1920s shower bouquets to be big, loose round shapes with cascading foliage.

1929 Wedding

1929 wedding of Minnie Ratcliff and Leslie East

1929 Wedding

1929 Leslie and Minnie East

1921 Wedding-1

1921 wedding of Dorothy Greaves and William Shaw

These two 1920’s shower bouquets are reminiscent of my Grandma’s wired 1930’s bouquet with white carnations and Asparagus setaceus fern trails. The whole effect is much more round in shape and sparse, being less tightly packed then Edith’s bouquet.

Asparagus setaceus

White Carnation wired shower bouquet

1920s fashion

Flowers and Foliage used in a 1920’s Bouquet

My research has shown me that the vast majority of 1920’s shower bouquets were made with either carnations or roses. The blooms were usually white or pale pink in colour and mixed blooms didn’t tend to be used in the same bouquet. I have found only one reference to red flowers and newspaper reports suggest that most bouquets were just one colour. I think it is very unlikely that a 1920’s bouquet would contain red, white and pink roses as depicted in Edith’s bouquet.  Apart from the ubiquitous carnations and roses I was surprised to be able to compile quite a long list of flowers mentioned in 1920s bridal bouquets – orange blossom, lily of the valley, white heather, pink tulips, white sweet peas, chrysanthemum, white lilac, orchids, gladiola, aster, belladonna delphinium together with both longiflorum and arum lilies.

1929 People's Home Journal


Bridal roses tended to be white or pink. From my research I was amazed at the number of references to named varieties of garden roses. When I got married I was advised that `garden roses shouldn’t be used in a bridal bouquet as they are not bred for the cut flower trade.’ I thought this was such a shame. Roses grown for bridal bouquets are now often bred on a large scale to maximise stem length and longevity, but they often lack the beautiful fragrance of garden blooms. Named varieties included Niphetos, a white `bridal rose’, pink Dorothy Perkins and Catherine Mermet.

Blush pink rosesNephetos RoseCatherine Mermet

1929 roses and fern1922 roses and smilax1920s rose bouquet

Grantham JournalSaturday 03 September 1927

1927 Ophelia Rose Bouquet

CornishmanWednesday 07 September 1927

1927 sheaf of white roses


Carnations have gone out of favour largely due to the wide availability in supermarkets at competitive prices. However they were viewed completely differently in the 1920s. Malmaison Carnations date back to the 1850s.  They were originally bred in France in 1857, and because of their quartered flowers looking similar to the bourbon rose, Souvenir de la Malmaison, they were named Malmaison Carnations. Malmaison Carnations (Dianthus) were richly clove scented and were prized for cutting. There were 40 cultivars in the carnation’s heyday and sadly now only five remain.

Carnation 1888Duchess of Westminster pre 1902

1929 carnations1920s carnation bouquet1921 carnations

Burnley ExpressSaturday 02 June 1928

1928 shower bouquet of pink carnations

Orange Blossom

In the 1920s orange blossom was used extensively. However at that time a lot of big gardens had an orangery and great care was taken in the care and cultivation of orange trees. Scented English orange blossom was therefore much more widely available.

Orange Blossom
1922 Orange Blossom Corsage1922 Orange Blossom1924 Orange Blossom
Dundee Evening TelegraphFriday 08 July 1927

1927 sprigs of orange blossom

White Heather

White Heather
Western TimesFriday 19 September 1924

1924 shower bouquet of lilies and white roses


Sweet Peas
1920 sweet pea bouquet
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish AdvertiserFriday 22 July 1927

1927 sweet pea bouquets


1929 Chrysanthemum bouquet1927 Chrysanthemum Bouquet1920 chrysanthemum bouquet
Western Morning NewsMonday 10 December 1928

1928 shower bouquet of white chrysanthemum


Gloucester JournalSaturday 19 September 1925

1925 Asters and Gladioli

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the ValleyLily of the Valley Vintage Print
1920s Lily of the Valley
Bath Chronicle and Weekly GazetteSaturday 07 August 1926

1926 pink roses and lilies of the valley shower bouquet



1925 lilac and orchid bouquet



Pink Tulips


1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

1928 Tulip bouquet, pink dress


1922 Delphinium Sheaves1920 delphinium overarm bouquet
Sheffield IndependentThursday 20 June 1929

1929 bridesmaid bouquets of delphiniums



Western Morning NewsThursday 11 August 1927

1927 sheaves of gladioli

Orchid PrintOrchid PrintOrchid
1922 Edwina Ashley and Lord Louis Mountbatten1922 Orchid Sheaf Bouquet
Dundee Evening TelegraphFriday 08 July 1927

1927 American style bouquet of orchids

Compact 1920s bridal bouquets were more often seen in the USA.  In the UK  a 1920s shower bouquet tended to be larger with masses of foliage, yet relatively few flowers. British bouquets looked more disorganised and had long trails of green foliage compared to those seen in photos from the USA. American bridal bouquets had some greenery, but were more likely to be bulked up with an abundance of trailing ribbons, bows and attached sprays of flowers.

Longiflorum Lily

Lily longiflorumLily longiflorumLily longiflorum
1922 lily sheath bouquet21922 lily sheath bouquet1920s Arum Lily bouquet

Dundee CourierTuesday 05 January 1926

1926 sheaf of longiflorum lilies


Madonna Lily

Fragrant, trumpet-shaped pure white flowers 6-8cm in length. Flowers in the Summer.

Not to be confused with the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum), the Madonna lily (Lilium candidum) is believed to be the flower given to Mary, the mother of Jesus, by the Angel Gabriel when Mary found out she was pregnant. Paintings from the time of the Middle Ages often feature the flower in depictions of the encounter.

Lilium candidumMadonna LilyThe Annunciation


1925 sheaf of Madonna lilies

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 25 August 1925
 Lily Auratum

1929 lily sheaf bouquet

1920s sheaf bouquets

This old variety is white with a gold band in the centre of the petals, with brown speckles.

Calla lily

Arum lily
1920s Calla lily bouquet1924 Calla lily bouquet
Buckingham Advertiser and Free PressSaturday 25 May 1929

1929 Sheaf of arum lilies

In 1920s photographs I have seen several varieties of fern used as foliage including Asparagus setaceus, Asparagus asparagoides and maidenhair fern. Do check out my guide to ferns as there are a surprising number of different types. Myrtle was often used as an aromatic foliage.  It has became a royal tradition to carry a sprig of myrtle in the wedding bouquet. Kate Middleton’s bouquet contained a sprig of myrtle from Queen Victoria’s garden. In fact, every royal bride since Queen Victoria has incorporated myrtle into their bouquet. Edith’s bouquet does contain maidenhair fern. However I can’t decide if myrtle has been used or whether it is Eucalyptus foliage I can see. Either way I feel the foliage should have cascaded a bit more and we should have seen some trailing feathery plumes of Asparagus foliage.

Asparagus setaceusMaidenhair fern



Nottingham Evening PostThursday 22 April 1926

1926 myrtle


1920s Over Arm Sheaf Bouquets

1922 Double Wedding

The other style of bouquet that was popular in the 1920s was the arm sheaf bouquet. They first became popular in the early 1900’s under the name of Bernhardt bouquets; inspired by the presentation bouquets given to the actress of the day, Sarah Bernhardt. They were long stemmed flowers and foliages carried by the bride cradled in her arm. They could be single-ended, with stems showing at one end, or double-ended with no stems showing. Most typically they were made using longiflorum lilies, but any long stemmed flowers could be used. Popular floral choices for arm bouquets were calla lilies, gladiolus, orchids, long-stemmed roses, delphiniums, and larkspur.  Ribbons were sometimes woven into the design.

Dundee Evening TelegraphFriday 08 July 1927

1927 Huge sheaves of country flowers


1920s sheaf bouquets

Some of the photos I have seen show the bride carrying a different style bouquet compared to her bridesmaids.

Bath Chronicle and Weekly GazetteSaturday 11 September 1926

1926 sheaf of lilies and Victorian posies of roses

There were two important royal weddings in the 1920s – the marriage of King George V and Queen Mary’s daughter, Princess Mary in 1922 and that of their second son, Prince Albert, Duke of York to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923. Elizabeth was also a bridesmaid at Princess Mary’s wedding.

1923 Royal Wedding

1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

1922 Wedding of Princess Mary

Lord Louis Mountbatten married The Hon. Edwina Ashley on 18th July 1922 at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, London in a glittering social event, with all the Royal Family in attendance. The wedding was the social event of the decade and attended by a vast gathering of Royalty which included King George V.

1922 Mountbatten Wedding1922 Lord Louis Mountbatten

Edwina’s bouquet was a simple, elegant over-arm sheaf of orchids and her bridesmaids carried delphiniums. There is no foliage to be seen! Edwina’s bouquet is in stark contrast to the enormous fern filled bouquets I have seen in middle-class photographs.

What flowers do I think Edith would have chosen for her wedding in 1925? It was customary for the groom to provide the flowers. Constance Spry stated in 1934 `The bride’s flowers are the gift of the bridegroom – although, nowadays she often chooses them herself, and decides on the price. The old idea of the gift of flowers coming as a delightful surprise on the wedding morning unfortunately is dead. The bridesmaids flowers are also his gift.’

1926 Brown velvet wedding dress

As Edith Crawley mixed in High Society I presume she would have been influenced by the recent Royal Weddings and the Mountbatten wedding. When Edith was jilted at the altar earlier in the 1920s she was portrayed carrying a small pretty posy of roses. Edith’s sister Lady Mary opted for a much more elegant sheaf of calla lillies when she married Matthew in 1920. Edith’s earlier bridal bouquet also seems a bit modern to me. I haven’t found any images of simple hand-tied posies in the 1920s. Mary’s bouquet is similar in style to the 1922 Mountbatten wedding.

1920s Downton Abbey Weddings

Edith is portrayed in the costume drama as a modern 1920s woman who kept up to date with the latest trends and fashions. Mary tends to wear clothes which are elegantly cut and less girly than Edith. I personally think Edith would have included some foliage to soften her bouquet and a different style to her rival sister.

One high class florist warned that elegant, simple sheaves of lilies `connoted a dignity, an austerity even, which is a personal characteristic to begin with. Brides who have other charms but lack this, should leave Madonna lilies alone.’

I actually rather like the sound of the `golden bouquet’ described in this article for Edith as I think it would suit her colouring. I may well have a go at making my own `golden bouquet’ based on this description.

Hartlepool Northern Daily MailTuesday 26 April 1927

1927 Wedding Flower Guide

Yorkshire Post and Leeds IntelligencerFriday 12 November 1926 

1926 Bouquet Fashion

Lincolnshire EchoSaturday 08 August 1925

1925 fashion for sheaf bouquets replacing round bouquets

These last two articles seem to imply that a fashionable lady such as Edith Crawley with her social status would have had a sheaf of flowers rather than a rounder shower bouquet.

This my version of an Elegant 1920s inspired overarm bouquet which in the light of my research would have been a good choice for Edith even if I do say so myself!

1920s inspired Calla Lily bouquet

1920s style Bouquet Picture by Jim Holden



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February Posy

February Posy

I have some beautiful Hellebore flowers in bloom in the garden at the moment. The pretty nodding flowers can be hidden by the leaves in the garden. My aim this month was to produce an arrangement which showed off the blooms with their intricate markings and exquisite beauty. Once cut they do have a hard time taking up water and droop easily They can be quite difficult to arrange in a vase. However there are a few tricks that can help.

Using Hellebores in Floral Design Work

Cut the stems and then sear the ends in boiling water for a few seconds.

The age of the flowers play a very important role in the longevity of a cut hellebore. You need to wait until the ovary begins to swell and the stamens and anthers have fallen off. The more developed the seedpod the longer the flowers will last as cut flowers. For artistic purposes I have photographed my hellebore flowers with their stamens and anthers intact so you can see how beautiful they are. However 24 hours later these flowers were very droopy.



Hellebore flowers look wonderful simply floated in a bowl of water. This was last year’s `posy’ of the month.

Hellebore Posy Bowl

This year for my `February Posy’ I chose a vintage teacup to float a few blooms in. I love the water lily effect of the fancy, frilly pink flower. `

February Posy

February Posy

February Posy

January Posy

To ring the changes I decided to also use a vintage flower bowl which belonged to my Gran to show off my hellebore blooms. Whilst I was clearing my Uncle’s house I found this lovely Amber Cloud Glass Flower Bowl Set which was given to my Gran as a wedding present in 1937 by Ethel Marsh. Unfortunately I threw the plinth out as I didn’t realise it belonged to the flower bowl! Cloud glass is a form of pressed art glass, created by applying streaks of dark coloured glass to paler glass, which creates a random swirled, “clouded” pattern. The cloud glass technique was invented by George Davidson & Co in 1923.  The Pattern number is 1910SD, 6.75 inches diameter.

George Davidson Amber Cloud Glassware

George Davidson CatalogueGeorge Davidson Glass Catalogue 1931

Ethel Marsh was a colleague of Betty at the Liverpool Victoria Insurance offices. The stories my Gran recounted about the Liverpool Vic are more to do with the social side than actual work! Betty made many good friends whilst working there, many of whom came to her wedding. In the 1930s a married woman was not expected to work. When Betty got married she was expected to give up her job. During the Second World War women were needed to work whilst the men were away at war. After the war it was more socially acceptable for married women to go out to work. My Gran recounted going on trips away with the Liverpool Vic to Brighton. The offices would be closed and they would all go off to the seaside in a charrabanc. I have pictures of the girls on the beach. Winnie Holland seemed to be a bit of a goer and is showing her knickers whilst paddling!

Liverpool Victoria Outing. Edna, Winnie Holland and Mary Gallimore. Edna married Henry Atwell, Mary's married name was Dean.
Liverpool Victoria Outing. Edna, Winnie Holland and Mary Gallimore. Edna married Henry Atwell, Mary’s married name was Dean.
Work's Outing to the Coast
Work’s Outing to the Coast
Betty Berry and Winnie Holland enjoying a paddle
Betty Berry and Winnie Holland enjoying a paddle

I am gradually building up quite a collection of Hellebores. I would highly recommend them as they do provide some interest in the garden before the other Spring plants come out in a Blaze of Glory.

Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Candy Love’

Helleborus Winter Sunshine and Candy Love are virtually indistinguishable both having pretty creamy pink flowers.  Candy Love does seem to have slightly smaller flowers.

Hellebore Candy Love

Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection Cinnamon Snow

Pink buds open to creamy white flowers suffused with warm rose and cinnamon. Dark cinnamon rose petal  on the reverse side. The large blooms face outward.

Hellebore Cinnamon Snow
Hellebore Cinnamon Snow

Helleborus niger Mini Blanc

This one is an early bloomer and can often be seen in flower at Christmas time.

Hellebore Mini Blanc

There is an unknown variety in bloom in our front garden.

White Hellebore

Helleborus Double Queen

Hellebore Double Queen


Helleborus × ericsmithii Ice Breaker Max

Large outfacing single creamy-white flowers, with a slight greenish tinge, appear in early spring.

Hellebore Ice Breaker Max

Helleborus  x  hybridus ‘Molly’s White’

Attractive green marbled foliage all year round with pure white flowers above the foliage. The white flowers turn to lime green with age from December through to early Spring.

Hellebore Molly's White


Hellebore orientalis Tutu

Pretty pale pink flecked flowers with double pleated dark burgundy anemone like centres that make a really eye-catching display over evergreen foliage from the end of December until Spring.This one is a such a beautiful frilly double form of Lenten Rose it really does remind me of a ballerina’s tutu.

Hellebore Orientalis Tutu

Helleborus (Rodney Davey Marbled Group) ‘Penny’s Pink’

Helleborus (Rodney Davey Marbled Group) 'Penny's Pink'

Hellebore Penny's Pink


I’d love to know if you have Hellebore flowers in bloom at the moment and if you have a favourite? I would also be interested to hear if you have used them in floral design work successfully.

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Dating Edwardian Photos

1902 Austin Coom & Rosina Nelson-1

1900 Wedding of Austin Coom and Rosina Nelson

The Edwardian era is the period covering the reign of King Edward VII 1901 to 1910, and is frequently extended beyond Edward’s death to include the four years leading up to World War I. I have chosen two photos to look at which represent the very beginning and end of this period in history.

1914 Wedding

1914 Wedding of Albert Arnold and Florence Birch

 Dress Fashion

1903 Silhouette

The sleeves of the early 1900s wedding dress are much fuller as are the skirts. The older members of the 1900 photo are wearing tailor-made suits typically late Victorian/Early Edwardian. The sleeve caps are less puffy than the earlier leg of mutton. After 1898 sleeves reverted to a more modest proportion for tailor-made suits. Interesting that for bridal fashion sleeves were fuller.

1902 Wedding


The later Edwardian wedding dress has closer fitting sleeves at the forearm. The sleeves have lost the bloused fullness of the early 1900s. Late decade styles simplified dresses and brought about a slimmer silhouette, with less fabric in the skirts, foreshadowing the changes yet to be seen in the 1920s. It’s not possible to see the waistline. However waistlines tended to rise in the period 1908 – 1913, reaching Empire line by 1913.

1910 Wedding   

Edwardian Hats

The first decade of 1900 saw a variety of hat shapes. In my 1900 photo the mother of the bride is wearing a toque – a brimless hat which is worn high.

Edwardian Toque Hat

1900 Wedding Toque Hat

Dundee CourierTuesday 14 October 1902

1902 Wedding toque

In the Edwardian period it was quite common for bridesmaids to wear hats as shown by our two photos.

1900 Bridesmaid Hat

The bridesmaids hats are very different to the toque worn by the bride’s mother. They appear to have a shallow, wide crown reminiscent in shape to this Platter hat from the Early Edwardian period. The hats have been draped in ivory material and are sporting feathers and a brooch. It is difficult to date hats because women often remodelled hats with new trimming.

Edwardian Platter Hat 

A very useful book on fashion is Out of Style by Betty Kreisel Shubert. These illustrations are taken from her book. This is a valuable guide to vintage style and very helpful when trying to date family photos.

The hairstyle can also be important when dating pictures.  The pompadour was typical of the early Edwardian era. The style was revived as part of the Gibson Girl look in the 1890s and continued to be in vogue until World War I. Hair was swept upwards from the face and worn high over the forehead.

Ethel Spice

Early Edwardian Hairstyle

Our two photos don’t show examples of Edwardian Picture Hats. A Picture Hat was a woman’s highly decorated hat with a wider brim. and was a fashion continued from the Victorian Age. Picture Hats were worn high on the head and held in place by a hatpin. They were elaborately decorated with fabric, feathers and flowers. Our 1900 wedding hats don’t have the typical high crowns. The high pompodour hairstyles worked well with the style of these high-crowned hats.

Edwardian Hats

Edwardian Hat 3
Edwardian Hats 2
Early 1900

1900 Black Wedding Dress

1913 hats aigrettes

Framlingham Weekly NewsSaturday 04 January 1913

Aigrettes were used in the Edwardian period. An Aigrette is the tufted crest of the egret used to adorn hats and head-dresses. During the late 19th and early 20th century a fad for wearing fanciful aigrettes resulted in large numbers of egrets and other birds being slaughtered by plume hunters for the milinery industry. Ostrich feathers were also popular.

Edwardian Wedding Group 4


1910 Edwardian Hats

Later Edwardian hats became wider. As the Edwardian Era progressed the trim on hats decreased as the brim size increased. A Cart wheel hat was a wide brimmed circular or saucer-shaped design. It was made in a variety of materials, including straw or felt and usually had a low crown unlike the earlier picture hats.  Typically it was worn at an angle to show off the curve of the brim, rather than being worn at the back of the head. The cartwheel hat became popular in the years leading up to World War I. They could be covered in velvet, taffeta or silk and had more modest decoration than previously.

Cartwheel Hat

Downton Abbey Hat 1

Cartwheel hats required a different hairstyle. The hair was drawn more to the side with less height. This style was secured with long hat pins up to 12 inches long.

Late Edwardian Hairstyle
Edwardian Wedding Group 4
1909 Hat


The movement toward smaller hats began around 1913 where hats still had high crowns but smaller brims. Straw boaters, small top hats and mini versions of picture hats were very common. High crown hats were worn often sporting a bow and with more modest hairstyles. Our 1914 bridesmaids are wearing more modest hats of the Era.

1914 Wedding Hat
1913 Smaller Hats

Edwardian Accessories

A typically Edwardian accessory is a bar brooch or locket brooch worn at a high neckline. Both our 1900 and 1914 weddings show typical brooches of the Era.

1900 Bridesmaid Hat

1914 Wedding Choker



Edwardian Gold Bar Brooch

I found these examples of inexpensive gold brooches from the turn of the century in the book Understanding Jewellery by David Bennett and Daniela Mascetti.

It seems very likely that the brooches I inherited are of this Era as they are very similar in design.

Bar Brooch
Bar Brooch
Bar Brooch

In our 1900 photo the necklines are very high with no neck exposed. At the end of the Edwardian Era necklines were slightly lower. One of the ladies in the 1914 photo looks  like she is wearing a velvet choker. As high necked blouses gave way to a new fashion for slightly lower necklines the velvet choker appeared.

1914 Wedding Choker

1914 Wedding Corsage

The 1914 bridesmaids are modelling typical large Edwardian corsages instead of bouquets. A corsage originally referred to the bodice of a woman’s dress. Since a bouquet of flowers was often worn in the center of the bodice, the flowers took on the name “corsage.” Our modern sense of the corsage comes from the French “bouquet de corsage,” meaning “a bouquet of the bodice.” Corsages are made from a small bunch of flowers or a single bloom. The corsage was originally worn at the waist or the bodice of a dress.

I have written a more detailed blog post about Edwardian Bridal Bouquets. The Edwardian Era brought about a complete change of bouquet style from the neat Victorian Posy. In the above 1900 wedding the bouquets are still fairly round and neat in shape. Flowers with long stems and trailing plants became available at the flower market and the Edwardian Shower Bouquet became popular. This was characterized by long showers or trails of fern. Our 1914 bouquet is a neat wired shower bouquet by comparison and included a large statement Calla lily and Asparagus densiflorus and Asparagus setaceus ferns. The wedding was an early Spring wedding and the corsages seem to include Spring narcissi. The bride is wearing a traditional veil and wreath of orange blossoms in her hair.

1914 wedding

Edwardian Wedding Group

Some of the 1914 ladies are wearing shirt collars with either a tie, floppy artist bow or tie neck cravat with stick pin bar brooch. This was a typical later Edwardian look and was much more functional for all types of occupations.

1914 Wedding Choker

1905 School teacher

At the beginning of the century women wore the S-Bend corset, which was much more restrictive. The corset pushed the bosom forwards and the bottom backwards and constricted the waist to make it as small as possible.

S Bend Corset

Another clue in the 1914 photo is the boys wearing Edwardian Eton collars. I found a really useful site called the Photo Detective by Geoff Caulton and some of my information has been sourced from there.

Eton Collar
Eton Collars

1914 Wedding

I hope you’ve enjoyed my research. If you have any Edwardian  family photos I’d love to see them and maybe even replicate another Edwardian Bouquet!

Edwardian Style Bouquet









Edwardian Inspired Flowers

Edwardian Style Bouquet

I have no photographs of my great grandma’s wedding or bridal bouquet.  However I thought it would be interesting to research what flowers were available when Ethel Spice married in 1913 and then make my own version based on my research.

Ethel Spice

Patsy Smiles - florist Picture by Jim Holden

I have looked at original newspaper reports of Edwardian weddings and looked at wedding photographs from the Era.

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield HeraldSaturday 01 June 1912

1912 shower bouquet roses fern

Edwardian Wedding Group 3


Dundee Evening TelegraphTuesday 04 June 1912

1912 smilax asparagus fern shower bouquet

Edwardian Wedding Group 6

Edwardian Wedding Group 5

Cheltenham Looker-OnSaturday 07 June 1913

1913 blue dress pink roses


1902 Wedding of Austin Coom and Rosina Nelson

1902 Austin Coom & Rosina Nelson-1


Edwardian Bridal Bouquets

The Edwardian Era brought about a complete change of bouquet style from the neat Victorian Posy. In the above 1902 wedding the bouquets are still fairly round and neat in shape. Flowers with long stems and trailing plants became available at the flower market and the Edwardian Shower Bouquet became popular. This was characterized by long showers or trails of fern. The shape was large and loose.The shower bouquet was made on a moss ball. Sphagnum moss was made into a ball about the size of a golf ball and into this was poked a long hairpin-like wire. Every flower or piece of foliage was then mounted onto a suitable wire and the wires were then made into a handle. Late Edwardian bouquets were enormous. They were at least 40 cm in diameter at the top with three or more trails of asparagus plumosus reaching almost to the ankles. Hanging amongst the trails would often be roses or carnations. Stephanotis and lily of the valley were also sometimes interwoven. The trails were bound together with binding wire. Some florists used green silk-covered wire. Gutta tape wasn’t used in Edwardian times.

The other style of bouquet which was popular was a tapering, long arm sheaf. These were usually made with longiflorum lilies (otherwise known as bridal or trumpet) or with arum lilies. Often the stems were bound with ribbon, although they were sometimes left unbound. This was the precursor of the stylised arum lily sheaf popular in the 1920s. Miss Mason is noted to have a sheaf of lilies and pale pink carnations in 1913.

Naval Wedding 1914

Edwardian Bridal Flowers

The most popular bridal flowers were roses and Malmaison carnations. Ivory or white flowers were still a favourite for the bride’s bouquet. Bouquets often contained one or two varieties of flowers, but you didn’t tend to have mixed flower bouquets. A wide variety of flowers were available, but fashion dictated that flowers should be of the same kind. It was considered vulgar to mix flowers. Only with the publication of Constance Spry’s first book, Flower Decoration, in 1934 did the idea of `mixed’ flowers become acceptable. Flowers arranged in the house were largely single varieties. Gertrude Jekyll felt two flower arrangements could be tolerated but only by those with a keen and well trained color eye. In the History of Flower Arranging by Julia Berrall she says `Flower arranging suffered from over-simplification. One dozen carnations and some asparagus fern, placed in a tall cut-glass vase, sum up the state which flower arrangements had reached.’

From my research I was amazed at the number of references to named varieties of garden roses. When I got married I was advised that `garden roses shouldn’t be used in a bridal bouquet as they are not bred for the cut flower trade.’ I thought this was such a shame. Roses grown for bridal bouquets are now often bred on a large scale to maximise stem length and longevity, but they often lack the beautiful fragrance of garden blooms. David Austin is one rose breeder who is working hard to reverse this trend. It is difficult to breed flowers for both scent and lasting power. The oils that provide the scent have the effect of breaking down the flower more quickly than in roses without scent. David Austin English Cut Roses have the beauty of an English garden rose although they are produced under glass. When I got married I would have liked to have chosen roses for my bouquet which I could then grow in my garden as a beautiful memory. Apart from commercially grown David Austin roses there are a new wave of British Flower growers who grow flowers to be used in floral design work. I wish I’d known about them when I was getting married.

Dorothy Perkins Roses (Wichurana)

The Dorothy Perkins rose was the very first rose to be named after a person.  Jackson and Perkins was a company formed by Charles Perkins (1840 – 1924) and his father-in-law, Albert Jackson (1807 – 1895) in the USA. Charles Perkins had a Grand-daughter named Dorothy. Miller who worked for Jackson and Perkins developed this clear pink rambling rose in 1902 which was named after her.

The Dorothy Perkins rose went on to win first prize at the Royal National Rose Society in 1908. She was bred from the Wichurana roses which are very vigorous ramblers. Peter Beales still sells Dorothy Perkins with her colourful cascades of clear pink flowers.

Dorothy Perkins Rose

Dorothy Perkins Rose 2


1912 Dorothy Perkins roses carnations fern

Catherine Mermet Roses

The Catherine Mermet rose was introduced in 1869 by Guillot. This is a pretty double tea shaped rose, light pink colour and is very fragrant. Catherine Mermet was grown as a greenhouse variety, but can now be kept as a garden rose. A white rose was developed from Catherine Mermet called `the Bride’.

Catherine Mermet

1912 Catherine Mermet rose bouquet

Nephetos Roses

The Nephetos rose was often called the wedding rose. She has creamy buds opening up to blowsy white flowers and a delicate tea scent. This highly scented old climber was very popular in Edwardian wedding bouquets and was introduced as a French tea rose in 1889 by Keynes Williams & Co. Nephetos roses need cosseting in colder areas and are better placed in a warm position or under glass.


Nephetos Rose

1912 Nephetos roses and asparagus fern


`The Rose, it’s history and how to cultivate it’  – J. Johnstone 1897

Nephetos Hybrid tea rose 1897

Edwardian bridal roses tended to be white or pale pink. However I have found a few references to crimson roses. This article shows that this was a new idea as generally speaking white flowers were favoured as they symbolised purity and innocence. Interesting that coloured flowers are beginning to come in.

Yorkshire Evening PostThursday 01 May 1913

Crimson Roses 1913


Malmaison Carnations

Carnations have gone out of favour largely due to the wide availability in supermarkets at competitive prices. However they were viewed completely differently in the Edwardian Era. Malmaison Carnations date back to the 1850s.  They were originally bred in France in 1857, and because of their quartered flowers looking similar to the bourbon rose, Souvenir de la Malmaison, they were named Malmaison Carnations.

Souvenir de la malmaison rose

Malmaison Carnations (Dianthus) were richly clove scented and were prized for cutting. There were 40 cultivars in the carnation’s heyday and sadly now only five remain. I found these on the Allwoods Nursery Website.

Duchess of Westminster pre 1902

Duchess Of Westminster Pre 1902

Old Blush Pre 1857

Old Blush Pre 1857

Princess of Wales 1876

Princess of Wales 1876

Thora 1898

Thora 1898

Marmion Pre 1912

Marmion Pre 1912

The Edwardian Era takes it’s name from Edward VII. His wife Queen Alexandra made the Malmaison carnation fashionable.

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping GazetteWednesday 12 June 1912

1907 Malmaison carnations and Queen Alexandra

They were, and still are, a real challenge to grow. They are prone to viruses, red spider mite in summer and damping off in winter. Malmaison carnations were cherished Edwardian flowers, grown for their strong scent in walled garden greenhouses. They were used as cut flowers for country houses until the Second World War. In my Great Grandmas time a vase of Malmaisons would demonstrate the owner’s social and economic position in life unlike today when they tend to be viewed as cheap `garage flowers`. Looking at newspaper articles I have found that carnations were often used in bridesmaids’ shower bouquets or carried by the mother of the bride.  I must admit I have become quite fond of them. They do smell amazing and they can last for several weeks in the vase.

Edwardian Bridal Bouquet Foliage

Shower Bouquets of the Edwardian Era were large and trailing. They often had yard long trailing greenery of fern. Whilst researching this Era I have been amazed at the number of varieties of fern which were used. I have found at least 5 varieties of asparagus fern!

Dundee Evening TelegraphTuesday 04 June 1912

1912 smilax asparagus fern shower bouquet


Asparagus asparagoides. Common names bridal creeper, smilax, bridal veil

Asparagus setaceus

Asparagus setaceus. Common names asparagus fern, plumosa fern, asparagus plumosa

Asparagus densiflorus (Foxtail)

Asparagus densiflorus Common names foxtail fern, plume asparagus

Trailing Ribbons

The Edwardians loved bouquets with trailing ribbons. Ribbons streamed out of the bouquet featuring knots along their length which were known as `Lovers knots’ or Bridal Laces. They were meant to represent promises from the Groom. Interestingly I thought the ribbons would have always been white in colour. However my research has found pink ribbon trails and even electric blue! How very daring!

Western TimesWednesday 10 June 1914

1914 Electric blue ribbons and malmaison carnations

Western TimesFriday 21 June 1912 

1912 long streamers of pink satin ribbon


Having researched the period I was in two minds about what kind of bouquet my Great Grandma Ethel Spice would have had in 1913. Ethel’s father George Spice was a market gardener and worked for Greenwood’s florists in Clapton. The first florists were market gardeners and nurserymen and the Edwardian Era saw the rise of the market garden.

George Spice

Owen Greenwood

Part of me feels that Ethel would have had a bouquet provided by her dad with flowers he grew himself. Whilst Malmaison carnations, roses and lilies were the most popular and stylish flowers for wealthy households, many Edwardians had a love for modest cottage garden flowers. There was a developing trend for flowers to be used in a style more sympathetic to the plant’s growing characteristics. The neat Victorian concentric bands were no longer in fashion and the rise of the Arts and Crafts Movement favoured a more naturalistic style. For fun I made a `Market Garden Bouquet’ for Ethel. I included lots of trailing ribbons and used dahlias grown on a Cutting Plot. I also used myrtle which is often used in bridal bouquets as it symbolises `Endless Love’.

Patsy Smiles - floristPicture by Jim HoldenPatsy Smiles - floristPicture by Jim Holden

Patsy Smiles - floristPicture by Jim Holden

However much as this bouquet was enormous fun to make I really don’t think it would be Ethel’s cup of tea. Photos show her to be a typical demure Edwardian lady. I know Ethel loved roses as I have a picture of her in later life standing by her roses, looking very proud of her efforts.

Ethel Spice

Ethel Spice

Ocean Mikado Spray Roses

I decided to make a more typical Edwardian bouquet with pink roses, lots of trailing fern and streaming ribbons. Although this type of bouquet would have been made with a moss ball I was after the look and not an exact replica. Having gathered together my materials I wired all the roses first. I used modern pink roses, but chose ones which I felt would look authentic in photos. If you would like to see how to wire a rose do check out my Blog Post on making a traditional wired rose buttonhole.


Rose Buttonhole


I then wired my chosen foliage. I’d opted for Asparagus setaceus, ivy and Asparagus densiflorus. Each frond or leaf was individually mount wired and then made into long branching units. I made sure I had plenty of variety of length.

Wiring Techniques-6
Single Leg Mount

Edwardian Style Bouquet


I then started to construct the bouquet. In the same manner as I had made my 1970s wired posy I made a handle by binding the stems together with silver reel wire. I set the overall shape of the bouquet with long stems for the trail and stems either side to set the width. Shorter stems were attached at the top and slightly bent back to form a return. I then infilled with the flowers trying to create the shape I had seen in photographs. The wires were made into a ribbon handle and I included lots of ribbon streamers with lovers knots. I loved the finished bouquet, although Mr Smiles felt it was a bit messy and preferred the neat 1970s posy!

Edwardian Style Bouquet


The construction took several hours to wire all the components for the design. However I must say it was surprisingly light for such a big bouquet.


Having photographed my design I then wanted to make a watercolour to add to my art work of vintage bouquets. I was rather overwhelmed with inspiration and source material for my painting!

Edwardian Style Bouquet

Edwardian Bouquet Small-18

Surrounded by the bouquet and numerous photographs I decided to use pen and wash rather than go for a neat accurate replica. I felt that I already had a decent photograph so wanted to produce my own artistic interpretation of this Edwardian design. The bouquet has quite a formal construction, but gives the impression of something loose and unstructured. I tried to convey this looseness in my finished work. I hope you like it!

Edwardian Style Bouquet Painting Small-2

You might also like my Blog Post about Ethel’s Weddding in1913.

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Vintage Weddings – 1930s


Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 1937

George Mason Hills and Betty Edna Berry – 26 June 1937

My Grandma, Betty Edna Berry, was born in Clapton in 1914 and lived with her parents Henry and Ethel Berry at 28 Elmcroft Street, Clapton, London.

Elmcroft Street

My Grandfather George Mason Hills was born in Sheffield, son of George and Mary and brother to William and Ina.  The Hills family were adventurous hill walkers and loved mountaineering.

Derbyshire - 1930s

So how did a London lass meet a lad from `up North’ in the 1930s? At that time Betty’s Aunt Kate was seriously ill, suffering from renal tuberculosis. At the beginning of the 20th century, tuberculosis was one of the UK’s most urgent health problems.  Betty’s mother Ethel was looking after her sister in 1934 and Betty was shipped off out of the way. Kate died of `consumption’ in June 1936.

Kate Spice


As it was Christmas Betty went to stay with her Aunt Nell, Uncle Stuart and cousin Tom Turner in Sheffield. The Turners were friends of the Hills family and so they came to visit a lot that Christmas. Betty was introduced to George when Tom invited some of his former school friends to meet his cousin from London. George Hills was working for the Medical Research Council in London, but was visiting his parents in Sheffield for Christmas.

As George was also living in London, Betty and George travelled back together on the train from Sheffield. George lived in digs fairly nearby in Lordship Road, Stoke Newington, lodging with Miss Prickett. He made it clear he would like to see Betty again and the rest is history…

Engagement – Summer 1935 

1930s -4

George asked Betty if she would consider marriage in the coastal village of Beer in Devon as the Berry family were on holiday there. This was a favourite family holiday destination where they stayed in a Boarding house in the village. On a previous occasion Ralph, a local fisherman, had asked my Gran to go for a moonlight fishing trip after the village dance. The family felt he had other things on his mind other than fishing and the outing was declined!

Beer Beach, Devon with Betty wearing a very fashionable swimming costume

George come down on the train from London to see Betty for the day. I have the love letter George wrote to my Gran the morning he got back:-

`49 Lordship Road, London, N16. 15:vii:35

Most darling Precious, I want to tell you all about the most marvellous journey back which I had; I never felt as happy in my life before. I not only felt as happy, as when on a country bicycle ride on a frosty, but bright sunny morning or as when seeing the sunrise during an Alpine climb, but I also felt as if I should like every-one else to feel equally happy. I felt genuinely sorry for every-one less well of than myself, who can’t even afford a cheap excursion to Beer.

Very early in the journey I got the idea that there would only have to be a suspicion of an answer `Yes’ from you and I would come over to Beer and marry you by special licence to-morrow if it could be done that quick. When I got back, after first kissing your photo-graph and then lighting the gas, I found my diary and looked up the cost of the licence and was gratified to find it was only £5.  Through out the journey I continued to develop the idea. As there would be no engagement, there would be no engagement ring. Perhaps you wouldn’t like that, but with the money saved you could have a radio-gramophone. An engagement ring may make you want to dance, but you can’t get any dance-music out of it. We should have to give up the idea of a honeymoon in the Italian Alps and perhaps `our bungalow’. We shouldn’t be able to live on a fabulously lavish scale on my £250 a year. After deciding all this I suddenly realised that as you are not yet a lady your dad should have to say `Yes’ too, do you think he would? One thing is certain that if you really do want a bungalow, I don’t think I will have saved enough pennies for us to get engaged in September; because Toots, once I am engaged to you, I shall feel it impossible for us to remain unmarried for more than six months. After so much good-will I am sure it goes without saying that I hope your party at Beer have a marvellous time with marvellous weather. How can you be so good to me, Tootsy?

Yours, darling, for ever and ever, Georgie’  


1930s -6

In the 1930s the Legal Age of Consent was 21 and 16 with parental permission. Betty was still 20 in June 1935 so they either needed to gain parental consent or wait till Betty’s birthday in the September. They were officially engaged on 1st August so permission must have been given! I am unaware as to whether my Gran did have an official engagement ring in the end. I did find these opal rings among her possessions and she was always fond of opals.

18 ct Opal ringOpal Ring


Shared Interests

George was a country boy who loved the outdoors, hiking and alpine mountaineering. Betty was a London lass who enjoyed parties and dancing. They took up each others hobbies! As George got to know Betty he shared his love of walking with her and they even went to the Lake District for a holiday before they got married. My Gran assured me that it was all above board and they shared hostel accomodation with another couple in single sex dorms!

1930s -51930's Hiking Outfits

1930s -7

Soon after they married they got a dog called Chum. George and Betty did a lot of walking from their home in Chelsfield, Kent. They also bought a tandem and travelled all over the place including an adventure to the Italian Lakes by train as a belated honeymoon.

1938 Walking with Chum


When George met Betty he hadn’t been into ballroom dancing. However, as Betty loved dancing so much, George took up dancing lessons near his digs in Lordship Road so they could go dancing together. They obviously got quite good as they won the Slow Foxtrot at a competition when they were living in Chelsfield, Kent after they were married.

I can see I have inherited a love of the outdoors and a love of dancing!


Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Edna Berry – 26 June 1937

1930's Wedding

1930s Wedding-7George and Betty married at Clapton Park Congregational Chapel on Lower Clapton Road. The Round Chapel was built in 1869-71 as a non-conformist, congregational church. It is now an arts centre and is considered to be one of the finest non-conformist buildings in London.

1930s Wedding-34img180

After the ceremony catering was provided for 33 guests at a local Hired Hall.

1930s Wedding-2

Catering Bill 1937


We invited 38 guests for our Wedding breakfast so the numbers were similar with close friends and family invited.

Wedding of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 26 June 1937


My Gran chose George’s sister Ina and her best friend Christine Hyde as bridesmaids. The Hydes were friends of the Berry family. The best man was George’s brother William.

1930s  Fashion 

History of Fashion

The 1920s had seen shorter dresses with brides showing an ankle. The wedding dress became increasingly shorter as the decade went on. In the 1930s the wedding dress became more slender and elegant. The fabric was cut on the cross so that the material fell into graceful folds and could be rather figure hugging. Silk elbow-length evening gloves were worn with a bracelet or watch on top of the gloves.  Betty was a bridesmaid for her cousin Kath Spice in 1933 where the outfits were typical of the early 1930s. Kath opted to wear a hat rather than a veil. Cloche hats were typical of the late twenties/early thirties. The Cloche was a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented in 1908 by milliner Caroline Reboux and was especially popular from about 1922 to 1933. Its name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. My Gran is wearing gauntlet style gloves with decorative flowing cuffs and seems to be holding a clutch bag rather than a bouquet.

Kath Spice's Wedding 1933

1930's FashionSpringtime Brides 1933 - Weldon's Ladies JournalWedding fabrics were chiffon, silk, crepe-de-chine and satin cut on the bias. The formal 1930s bridal gown was floor length, and had an elaborate, long train. Chantilly lace trimmed the edges of the floor length veils that were anchored to the head with a juliet cap. Long opera length gloves completed the look of a sleeveless or butterfly sleeved bodice.

1930s Holleywood Glamour

Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 1937

Betty chose a white wedding dress which which was more classic than the contemporary style she wore as a bridesmaid.  Wedding gowns often reflect the latest fashions of an era and can be time-dated by their silhouettes, sleeve styles etc. However some brides of the 19th and 20th centuries chose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress or veil. This can be misleading when dating photographs. Maybe my Gran decided the figure-hugging styles of the 1930s were a bit tarty for a bride! I can’t decide if my Gran is wearing a new dress and veil or decided to wear her mum’s. I do know my mum’s wedding dress, which she made herself, was saved for my wedding day. However I couldn’t get into it as the dress was 2 sizes too small for me!  The bridesmaids have fuller skirts than the latest fashion, but they are sporting cap sleeves. Betty is wearing a fashionable short finger waved hairstyle.

Early 30's Hair StylesHelen D'Algy

1930s Wedding

In my Grandparents wedding photos the guests are wearing typical 1930s Day Dresses.The most dramatic difference between the fashion of the thirties and the previous decade was the emphasis on a slim waist. The 1920s had seen a flat `boyish’ loose shape with a dropped waist. 1930s fashion saw a slender fitted style with a high natural waist accented with a belt. The belt often matched the dress using the same floral or patterned fabric. Fashion was to create interest at the top of the garment and accentuate the waist. This included caplet sleeves, puffed sleeves, and angular shoulders which, in turn, would give the illusion of a smaller waist. Femininity and pretty details were a key feature of 1930s fashion. I think I was born in the wrong era! Necklines and collars were always high with no cleavage on show. Hemlines went back down after the almost knee baring 1920s to mid calf for Day Dresses.

1937 Day Dresses1937 Fashion


1930s Wedding Flowers

Money was scarce during the Great depression of the 1930s. Unless a bride came from wealth, flowers tended to be locally grown and readily available. Several styles of bouquet were popular in the 1930s and were designed to complement the dress.

Arm Bouquet This style was designed to be held in the bride’s arms and looked sleek and elegant against the slim line dress styles of the 1930s. Long stemmed flowers were used which included calla lilies, gladiolus, delphiniums and long stemmed roses. Ribbons were sometimes woven into the design.

Vintage Sewing Pattern - 1934 Vobach 71306


The Nosegay or Tussie-Mussie. This style of bouquet has been around since Elizabethan times and was still popular in the 1930s. The nosegay was a small round shaped bouquet of closely filled flowers. Generally two or three flowers were the central feature surrounded by fragrant herbs and greenery. The flowers were usually roses, tulips or carnations. The Nosegay was originally intended to be put to the nose to mask unpleasant odours when bathing was not so frequent. Sage, mint, thyme and rosemary were often included as fragrant herbs.The posy was styled within a cone-shaped vessel of metal or glass known as a tussie-mussie. Ribbons were used to accent the flowers and the bouquet was often wrapped in a lace doiley. The Victorians turned the tussie-mussie into an art form giving each flower and herb a symbolic meaning.

1930s Nosegay Bouquet


The Cascade or Shower Bouquet. This was the style Betty chose for her wedding flowers. The bouquet is round at the top near the bride’s hands and spills over in a cascade of foliage ribbons and flowers. Choice of flowers was limited in the 1930s – carnations, roses, lilies and plenty of Maiden-hair and Asparagus fern. I am fascinated by the bouquets in my Gran’s wedding photos. The two bridesmaids have huge bouquets packed full of garden roses and trailing fern. They are also carrying Dorothy bags which are likely to contain confetti. My Gran on the other hand has a smaller, more sparse bouquet of carnations. I really can’t understand why! I prefer the abundant rose bouquets. Perhaps carnations were more highly prized and my Gran was fond of the fragrance?! There were also carnation button holes for the men in the bridal party.

1930's Wedding


Wedding Present List 1937  

1930s Wedding Present List (1)1930s Wedding Present List (2)

I was delighted to find my Gran’s Wedding Present List tucked amongst her wedding photos. What a wonderful piece of social history! There are so many similarities between my Gran’s Wedding Gifts, my mum’s and mine. We all had a dinner service, casseroles, flower vases and bath towels.   I either still have many of the items on the list or remember them. The list shows that amongst the wedding party guests were family, work colleagues and friends. Uncle George gave his niece towels as he worked as a Sales Rep for Christie’s towels. There are many more ornate items of cutlery and serving dishes than we received or would dream of using.

Aunt Nell and Uncle Stew gave giant fish servers made in Sheffield, which was appropriate as they lived in Sheffield. Uncle Stew had been an assistant steel overseer for the admirality.

1930s Walker & Hall Fish Servers1930s Fish Knives and Forks

Other cutlery items included egg spoons and pastry knives and forks. Apparently an egg spoon is a specialised spoon for use in eating boiled eggs. In comparison to a teaspoon it typically has a shorter handle and bowl, a more pointed tip and often a more rounded bowl. The pastry knives and forks given by Horace Laithwaite, a colleague of George, came in wonderful crocodile or snake skin presentation cases.

1930s Pastry knives and forks1930s Reliance Plate Pastry Knives

There was a lot of cut glass amongst the wedding presents. I remember having biscuits out of the Cut Glass Biscuit Barrel when I came home from school. The Cut Glass Cruet, a gift from Aunt Blanche and Uncle Arthur Mason, was always brought out for Christmas and Birthdays. Unfortunately the vinegar bottle was broken so I decided not to keep it. However it looked very like this set:-

Cut glass cruet

Glassware also included grapefruit dishes, vases and a cake stand.  Christmas cakes, Easter cakes and birthday cakes were always presented on the Cut Glass Cake Stand.

Cut Glass Cake Stand


Betty’s Grafton China tea-set was a present from her bridesmaid Christine and her mother.  All we have left now is a bread and butter plate and this bowl. The Grafton China marking is from the period 1935-1949.

1930s Grafton China Tea-setGrafton China

Whilst I was clearing my Uncle’s house I found this lovely Amber Cloud Glass Flower Bowl Set which was given by Ethel Marsh. Unfortunately I threw the plinth out as I didn’t realise it belonged to the flower bowl! Cloud glass is a form of pressed art glass, created by applying streaks of dark coloured glass to paler glass, which creates a random swirled, “clouded” pattern. The cloud glass technique was invented by George Davidson & Co in 1923.  The Pattern number is 1910SD, 6.75 inches diameter.

George Davidson Amber Cloud Glass (1910SD)George Davidson Amber Cloud GlassGeorge Davidson CatalogueGeorge Davidson Glass Catalogue1931

Ethel Marsh was a colleague of Betty at the Liverpool Victoria Insurance offices. The stories my Gran recounted about the Liverpool Vic are more to do with the social side than actual work! Betty made many good friends whilst working there, many of whom came to her wedding. In the 1930s a married woman was not expected to work. When Betty got married she was expected to give up her job. During the Second World War women were needed to work whilst the men were away at war. After the war it was more socially acceptable for married women to go out to work. My Gran recounted going on trips away with the Liverpool Vic to Brighton. The offices would be closed and they would all go off to the seaside in a charrabanc. I have pictures of the girls on the beach. Winnie Holland seemed to be a bit of a goer and is showing her knickers whilst paddling!

Liverpool Victoria Office Outing1930s -3Liverpool Victoria Office Outing

Winnie came to the wedding along with Mary Gallimore, Ethel Marsh and Gladys Kingdon.  The Womens Record Department gave a dinner service, electric clock and meat carvers.

Meat Carver


Other intriguing gifts were a Turkish Cigarette Box and Ashtray from Fred Dainton.  I couldn’t think of anything I’d want less for a wedding present. However my Gran was partial to smoking a Turkish cigarette! Although not on the list my Gran was very fond of her Honeybee which seems to date from a similar period.

1930s Wedding-20Betty’s Aunt Jennie and Lou gave her a LLoyd Loom Linen Basket, which was passed on to my mum in later years.  LLoyd Loom is the name given to a woven fabric and furniture that was invented by Marshall Burns Lloyd nearly 100 years ago. Lloyd Loom weave is made from twisted paper and wire and the frames are traditionally made from steam-bent beech wood. The furniture is renowned for its longevity and durability.  It inspired a generation of furniture designers in the 1920’s and 30’s, associated with the art-deco period and the classic ocean-going liners of the time. It became immensely popular in the UK before the London factory was destroyed in the war, spelling an end to large scale production.

LLoyd Loom 1930's Furniture

LLoyd Loom Quadrant Linen Basket

Aunt Lou and Jennie were unable to come up from Brixham in Devon for the wedding, but were very fond of their youngest niece.

Aunt Jennie and Lou Berry

The two maiden Aunts sent a Wedding  Congratulation Postcard.  


Wedding Postcard - Aunt JennieWedding Postcard - Aunt Jennie


Wedding Cards, Telegrams and Postcards 

1930s Wedding Telegram

1930s Wedding Telegram1930s Wedding Postcard1930s Wedding Card


After the wedding celebrations Betty and George spent a wet, rainy week in the Lake District on Honeymoon. A year later they finally made it to the Italian Lakes on their tandem for a belated honeymoon. Another Epic Blog Post in the making…!

1930s Honeymoon
1930s Honeymoon

1930s HoneymoonLake District Honeymoon1930s Honeymoon



I hope you have enjoyed my Grandparents’ 1930s wedding. I certainly cherish these wonderful photos and keepsakes!


Wedding of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 26 June 1937


More Vintage Jewels!

`Precious' pink jewels

I popped into Antiques on High in Oxford today to get my Grandma’s necklace re-strung as it had very sadly collapsed on the bedroom floor. Caroline Henney from Bag the Jewels Vintage Jewellery and Accessories was very helpful and told me to pop them in to Antiques on High and she would get them re-strung for me.  I was so pleased they could be re-strung as I wear them a lot and even wear them to work! I love them as they really do sparkle and lift an otherwise drab work outfit.

Vintage Crystal

Gran’s beads are facet cut Austrian crystals and sparkle with a whole rainbow of colours. Caroline told me that `these beads were so popular in the 1950s and 1960s and it is easy to see why! You come across them in single rows or doubles and triples, but I have sold a five row necklace before. Clip on earrings with a cluster of beads and matching brooches were often worn with them.’  I have the matching clip on earrings. However I think these are slightly over the top for work wear! 

Austrian CrystalOf course whilst I was pottering around in Antiques on High I couldn’t resist a few new vintage jewels to add to my collection!

I’ve never really done vintage brooches and have stuck to my trusty trade-mark necklace with every outfit. However inspired by Caroline’s comment that Austrian Crystal necklaces were often worn with a matching brooch I decided to branch out into brooches. Oh dear please keep quiet – Mr Smiles doesn’t need to know my vintage jewellery tastes are expanding! Firstly I fell in love with this beautiful crystal number from the 1960s. I think this sparkly beauty will look fab on my navy jacket! It will also co-ordinate a treat with Gran’s necklace when she is re-strung.

Austrian Crystal Bead Brooch - 1960s


Having considered brooches to be my latest accessory I found this lovely early 19th century Gilt pink jewel set brooch.

Gilt Pink Jewel Set Brooch - Early 19th Century

Of course I needed a matching pink pendant! This Edwardian pink crystal necklace fitted the bill nicely with her dainty gold chain and beautiful detail…..

Edwardian Pink Crystal Necklace`Precious' pink jewels

In my opinion a girl can never have too many necklaces and I do seem to be in love with Austrian crystal. May be we should take a trip to Austria?! Gran loved Austria and went there on several occasions. So here we have it another 1950s crystal and mother-of-pearl necklace in a rather striking petrol blue colour.

Austrian Crystal & Mother-of-Pearl Necklace - 1950sI wear a lot of turquoise and this will look lovely with a simple turquoise cardy! In fact I have just the cardy in mind. I really love clothes by the company White Stuff. A lot of their clothes are colourful with a real attention to detail. In the Summer my trademark style has become a pretty White Stuff Skirt with lots of detail together with a simple white top and a pretty cardy. There is always a necklace to go with it in my collection! White Stuff’s latest Flowerpress collection suits my style beautifully. `Texture is key and luxurious lace, delicate broderie and embroidery make ‘Flower Press’ feel soft, light and romantic. Strong geometric floral designs keep it feeling fresh and modern.’  Everything I want – colour, floral and prettiness! 

My petrol blue crystal necklace will look fabulous with my White Stuff skirt and blue cardy.

Summer Specs Skirt White Stuff

Sweet Heart Cardi - Whitestuff









As a Dispensing Optician I just have to wear this Summer Specs skirt this year! Although I am keeping it for outside of work.

On my way to get the cash for my selections at Antiques on High I fell in love with another skirt in the window of White Stuff.  I wear a lot of chartreuse green and yellow and whenever I do people always say what a fabulous colour it is on me. Chartreuse doesn’t suit everyone. Chartreuse is a color halfway between yellow and green that was named because of its resemblance to the green color of one of the French liqueurs called green Chartreuse, introduced in 1764. Similarly, chartreuse yellow is a yellow color mixed with a small amount of green that was named because of its resemblance to the color of one of the French liqueurs called yellow Chartreuse, introduced in 1838.

Green Chartreuse


Yellow ChartreuseYellow can be a hard colour to wear as it can make many people look slightly green. However with my warm complexion and blonde hair chartreuse seems to bring out the golden highlights in my hair and makes me feel full of cheerful optimism. Chartreuse is a true Spring colour and Spring colours suit me.  I found when I picked out the colours from my Spring primroses and daffodils there was a lot of Spring yellows and greens to be seen. 

Primrose HuesThe skirt I fell in love with was the Multi-Madness skirt with it’s bold geometric print including chartreuse, pink, red and turquoise. It was a bit of a multi-madness buying afternoon after all! I teamed the skirt with a co-ordinating zesty cardigan and another impulse vintage necklace from Antiques on High! My last acquisition was a delightful 1930s Art Deco silver Marcasite necklace with chartreuse yellow jewels. 

Hearty Cardy - White StuffMulti-Madness Skirt - White Stuff


Art Deco Silver & Marcasite Necklace - 1930sArt Deco Silver & Marcasite Necklace - 1930sUnfortunately when I got home it was a bit chilly to wear my lovely new Summer skirts. When the weather brightens up I will get Mr Smiles to photograph me modelling my new outfits and new vintage jewels! I can’t wait for Summer sunshine!



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