Elizabeth Morgan’s wedding dress

Dress, 1730s, silk, hand embroidered, probably English, dismantled, donated in 1959.

The skirt consists of seven panels, 103 x 41cms, beautifully hand embroidered with mixed flowers and foliage rising in stems from a small mound of stylised earth at the hem. The pattern may have been influenced by Indian chintz designs or late 17th century English crewel work.

Elizabeth’s dress has been partially dismantled, altered or never finished. It is difficult to categorically state that it is definitely her wedding dress, despite the feelings of her descendants in the 1930s. She may have embroidered the panels with the intention of making a typical dress in the mantua style of 1730 to be worn at her wedding party, and actually worn it.

Recent research into the life of Elizabeth Morgan, a country squire’s wife who lived at Henblas, Llangristiolus on Anglesey in the 18th century, has led to the realisation that this could be her missing wedding dress. She is well known through her meticulously recorded garden diary from 1754-1772 now housed in the archives of Bangor University.

The dress is on display at Storiel until November 2nd 2019. It is displayed to show the embroidery within the confines of the display case, and to minimise disturbance to the dress. It suggests the shape of the slightly later court dresses that were worn by aristocratic ladies at court. The dress may have been remade like this as fancy dress at some stage of its life. Unless a missing diary is found that recounts Elizabeth’s personal life this beautiful piece of embroidery will remain an intriguingly beautiful mystery.