Brocade wedding dress

Contributed by: Grenfell Historical Society

3/4 View of wedding dress Front view Back view Back view 3/4 angle Side view Side view Close up of detail on skirt
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Grenfell Historical Society
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

    Grenfell, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

[Collapse all]

Object information

Significance statement

This dress was worn by Mary Napier when she married Alfred Hilder in Grenfell on 24 May 1880. Both families came to Grenfell following the discovery of gold in October 1866 and remained after the gold ran out. The dress appears to be hand made and could possibly have been used again on formal occasions. It is significant in that the dress is one of only a few garments that survived from this period that can be directly linked to the history of Grenfell. It is well provenanced and in fairly good condition.

Author: Lisa Eastaway, 2nd July 2010.


A coffee coloured brocade wedding dress with a fitted waist, layered gored skirt with bows and satin ribbon.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Alfred and Mary Hilder (nee Napier) had seven children, all born in Grenfell between the years 1880 and 1897. Alfred died on 16 Jul 1936 at the age of 80 and Mary died 16 Feb 1954, aged 95 years. They are buried together in the Anglican section of the Grenfell Cemetery.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

The Hilder family came to Grenfell in the 1870s, probably on the tail of the gold discovery in 1866. Alfred Hilder held several mail runs in the district in the 1880s and was obviously civic minded as he appears as a Trustee of Grenfell Common in 1883. By 1894 Alfred was a shearer and a member of the Amalgamated Shearers Union of Australia. There are descendants still in the district today and Hilder St is named after the family.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

This wedding dress fits into the wider historical context by being an example of bridal dresses of rural Australia. It is believed the dress was hand made as were most dresses of the period. The modern day perspective of a white wedding is disproved here where practicality takes over. It is likely that this dress was worn more than once. It is an example of how the dress was cherished that it was gifted to the museum 128 years after first being worn.

Where did this information come from?

Grand daughter and files held at the Grenfell Museum.

This garment has been exhibited

On temporary display at the Grenfell Museum.

  1. Place of origin:

    Grenfell, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:


  3. Owned by:

    Mary Hilder nee Napier.

  4. Worn by:

    Mary Napier

  5. Occasion(s):

    Wedding to Alfred Hilder.

  6. Place:

    Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Grenfell.

  7. Designed by:


  8. Made by:


  9. Made for:

    Mary Napier

Trimmings / Decoration

Bows feature on the skirt



Fibre / Weave

Colour: Coffee

Fibre: Brocade

Weave: Brocade

Location: Satin ribbon on layers of skirt and bows, lace collar, metal buttons on bodice and sleeves

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


It is assumed that the garment is hand sewn. There are no manufacturer's labels.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


metal buttons

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring


Chest 810 mm
Waist 590 mm
Back neck to hem 1450 mm
Sleeve length 520 mm
Convert to inches

Additional material

Other related objects

Photograph of th couple taken later in life.


Evidence of repairs


Insect damage


Mould damage



  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor


  1. Stained
[Collapse all]