Queen Victoria's Wedding Lace

On the 10th February 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburgh and Gotha. Queen Victoria wore a white wedding dress made of silk satin, which was trimmed with a flounce of Honiton lace, from Beer (a village close to Honiton, in Devon), worked under the guidance of Miss Jane Bidney (Jane Washbourne). She also wore lace frills, a bertha, and a white lace veil, also made of Honiton lace from Beer. 

The Western Times, a Devon newspaper, wrote on Feb 15th 1840: "Her Majesty the Queen wore on her head a wreath of orange blossoms and a veil of Honiton lace, with a necklace and earrings of diamonds. Her Majesty’s dress was of white satin with a very deep trimming of Honiton lace, in design similar to that of the veil. The body and sleeves were richly trimmed with the same material to correspond. The train was of white satin and was also lined with white satin, trimmed with orange blossom. The dress was made by Mrs Bettans, her Majesty’s dressmaker. The cost of the lace alone on the Queen’s dress was £1000, the satin of which was of pure white was manufactured at Spitalfields."

"The lace of HM’s bridal dress though popularly called Honiton lace was really worked at the village of Beer, which is situated near the sea coast about 10 miles from Honiton. It was executed under the direction of Miss Bidney, a native of the village, who went from London, at the command of HM for the express purpose of superintending the work. More than 200 persons were employed upon it from March to November during the past year. These poor women derive a scanty subsistence from making lace, but the trade has latterly so declined, that had it not been for the kind consideration of HM in ordering this dress, they would have been destitute during the winter. No one can form an idea of the gratitude they express who has not heard it from their own lips."

"The lace which formed the flounce of the dress measures 4 yards and is ¾ yard in depth. The pattern is rich and exquisitely tasteful in design, drawn expressly for the purpose and surpasses anything that has ever been executed either in England or in Brussels. So anxious was the manufacturer that Her Majesty should have a dress perfectly unique that she has since the completion of the lace destroyed all the designs. The veil, which is of the same material and is made to correspond afforded employment to the poor lacemakers for more than 6 weeks. It is a good yard an a half square. Among the morning dresses of the Queen’s trousseau is one of very beautiful design, entirely made of Honiton lace with handsome flounces and worn over white silk. The lace for this dress was made by Miss Clarke of Honiton.”

The newspaper report tells that the Beer embroideresses worked from March to November 1839 to complete the lace flounce for the wedding dress. Yet the engagement of Queeen Vicgtoria and Prince Albert was only announced on the 15th October. Perhaps the decision to use the Honiton lace from Beer was made after the commission had been made.

Digital source (retrieved 11 September 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 11 September 2016).

WV

Last modified on Sunday, 11 September 2016 10:35