Curators Choice – Of Mourning and Bonnets

During the Victorian era the practice of public mourning became very popular. Funerals would be as elaborate as the mourners could afford. Some saw large processions led by black horses wearing black ostrich feathers and pulling the hearse. Memento mori, tokens to remember the deceased, were gifted to the chief mourners. Such tokens could include photographs of the deceased. Or a piece of jewellery or a picture made from the deceased’s hair.

Mourners wore mourning dress. Different rules on what to wear and for how long applied depending on who you were mourning. A widow was expected to stay in mourning for two years, wearing black and purple clothing known as “widow’s weeds”.

In this video, Collections Assistant Decorative Arts Madeleine Gray, takes a closer look at a selection of Victorian mourning bonnets from the collection.

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