Christening Gown

SA History Project

History Through the Eye of a Needle

Christening Gown and Handkerchief

The front skirt and bodice panels of the christening robe are worked in applique on net in the style of Carrickmacross. The design is of flowers and leaves in a tall vase with sprays of flowers and a large bow and a border of clover leaves. There is a variety of needlerun net fillings. A matching handkerchief has a centre of cotton lawn with a wide border of embroidered net with a design of clover leaves and flowers and a ribbon edge. The handkerchief was used to cover the baby’s face when driving.

The gown was made by May Merwood, a very skilled embroiderer who was perhaps influenced by her grandmothers from Ireland and Scotland. It was worn by her son, George Fergus Ivor, born 9th October 1909, when he was christened at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide. This is the only occasion on which the gown was worn.

Born in Adelaide, May Lottie Phyllis Hughena, was the daughter of Willis Brown who lived over a paint shop in the east end of Rundle Street, Adelaide. May married Frederick George Merwood at St. Peter’s Cathedral. Merwood was born at Arreton on the Isle of Wight. He was a sailor and when in Adelaide, he visited friends and decided to return to Adelaide to settle when his contract was complete. The Merwoods had two children, Barbara Willisa and George Fergus Ivor, for whom the gown was made. Both children married but neither had children.

Gown 80cm long; Handkerchief 22cm square
South Australia, 20th century (early) /1909
1990.032 donated