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Friday, 9 August 2019

An Array of Hats - Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph features three Edwardian ladies, wearing large hats.  There is no shortage of that style among my extended family.

 An elegant portrait of Sarah Alice Oldham on her wedding to George Butler in Blackpool, Lancashire  and what a showy outfit, magnificently decorated large hat, and a large posy set off by  long broad ribbons     Sarah came from a family of carters and coal-men down three generations and George also worked in the business.  

This charming photograph is of Sarah's sister, Beatrice Oldham who married Jack Clark in Blackpool, Lancashire  on 26th December 1919. I feel the significance of the date after the First World War is not lost in this photograph,  where there is a certain air of informality and lack of ostentation,  with a large, but plain hat and a shorter skirt and the groom carrying a trilby hat.   It contrasts with the very formal opulent dress style  at Sarah's wedding nine years earlier in 1910. 

More large  hats were worn (above)  by Mary Jane Oldham, nee Bailey and her sister-in-law Sarah Butler, nee Oldham.    Mary Jane Bailey  and my grandfather William Danson were cousins.   Below is another creation worn by Sarah's other sister Edith. 

A magnificent array of hats (and buttonholes)  in this wedding group at the marriage in 1910  of  Wilfred Hyde and Annie Coombes, relations of my cousin's  wife. 

But to return to everyday fashion wear in hats:
My husband's great aunt Pat King, nee Hibbert, on the beach with her little daughter Annette, born in 1919.  

And even wee  ones can sport big hats

My mother Kathleen Danson, c.1911 taking part in a parade in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  She does not look too happy in her little bootees, frilly white dress and large hat.


From the American branch of my mother's family -  Florence Mason, with her father c.1906.  Born 1898 in Brooklyn, New York,  she was the youngest of a large family of eight surviving children. 


What if you were looking to buy a hat?  Here is an advertisement from my local paper "The Earlston Comet"  of 1891.  On the High Street, David Wallace, draper and clothier promised:
"An Immense and Magnificent Collection of every New and Fashionable  Dress Material....which for Variety, Superior Quality, Good Taste and Moderate Prices is unequalled in Earlston.

Tweeds in Cheviot, Homespun, Harris and Grampian makes, latest styles and newest mixtures, Black materials in great variety.

The latest novelties in Millinery, Flowers, Feathers etc.  Bonnets composed of Velvet and Jet, from 10s.6d to 25s.  The latest novelty in hats is Gladys in French Beaver, trimmed with Feathers.  All orders for this Department made up in the most Fashionable and Tasteful Manner." 
Note the reference to "black materials" - at a time when formal mourning wear was still the custom.  Somehow the name "Gladys" does not quite conjure up an image of a French beaver hat with feathers!

Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  

to share their family history and memories through photographs


Click HERE to see other fashions from Sepia Saturday bloggers


  1. Oh what a great take-off on the photo. Your family certainly was great at having many occasions to wear those big hats!

  2. Great hat photos Sue. I can’t wait to post my hat pictures too. My family was big on hats. Wish they’d come back in style. Such class.

  3. I love looking at these hats, but doubt I'd like to wear one for long. I suppose they may have forced women to have good posture.

  4. Some wonderful hats here on the heads of family women! I belonged to the Red Hat Society for a while & had fun each month wearing a pretty hat to lunch - except it always had to be red or red & purple. I'm thinking about starting a small "Ladies Who Lunch" group where we dress up in frilly clothes with beautiful hats of any color. Love the photo of your mother as a little girl in 1911. See you in a few days!!! :)

  5. My maternal grandmother's Uncle John was a milliner, in the late 1800s and early 1900s. who would have loved this selection of women's hats. How fortunate you are to have such a fine array of ancestral photographs featuring stunning hats.

  6. I'm always interested in hats as they figure in so many photos of earlier times. It's interesting the the first three show couples dressed as if for travel and not ceremony. Packing a wardrobe with so many large hats, heavy coats, voluminous gowns, etc, would be a big challenge.

  7. Thank you all for your kind comments. Yes I love these big hats , but wonder how practical they were in real life I.e. rain. Gail - I do like your idea of dressing up as “Ladies who Lunch - go for it!


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