Queen Adelaide’s Flower-Acrostic Dress

Victorian Honiton lace

Early in the nineteenth century royal favour was sought for the lace-workers in Devonshire, who had been much distressed by the introduction of machine-made net, and Queen Adelaide gave an order for a complete dress to be made of Honiton sprigs; these were mounted on machine-made ground, so that both industries were benefited, for it was realized that the struggle between manual labour and invention could only have one result, and it would be useless to attempt to bolster up a dying industry such as that of the hand-made net. The design for the royal order was to be copied from nature, for during the depression in the Honiton trade the patterns used had gradually degenerated. The skirt of this historical dress was encircled by a wreath of flowers whose initial letters formed the name of the Queen: Amaranth, Daphne, Eglantine, Lilac, Auricula, Ivy, Dahlia, Eglantine.
A History of Hand-made Lace, Mrs. F. Nevill Jackson, 1904, pp. 52-53

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has searched in vain for any mention of this gown beyond late 19th– and early 20th-century lace histories. Does  it still exist? And if so, where?  Were there other garments with names spelled out by flowers? (Rather like the custom of spelling out sentiments on jewellery with gems in the manner of an acrostic.)
Honiton lace originated in Honiton, Devonshire and was known as a “flower lace,” because so many of the motifs were naturalistic depictions of flowers, ferns and leaves. “Honiton Applique: In the period 1830-40 the hand-made motifs were applied to a machine-made net ground, although special pieces continued to be ordered and executed with a Vrai Reseau ground which was made in 1 in (2.5 cm) strips, and joined by ‘fine joining’…Honiton sprigs (motifs) were sold separately to those purchasers who were unable to buy more than one at a time, and these would subsequently be applied to some item of dress.” The Illustrated Dictionary of Lace, Judyth L. Gwynne, 1997, pp. 79 and 81
Born Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess in Saxony, Queen Adelaide [1792-1849] was Queen Consort of King William IV of the United Kingdom. She was beloved for her kindness, her modesty (a refreshing change after the martial irregularities of the Prince Regent  and his brothers), her kindness and her charities. The public also sympathized with the childless Queen, who had suffered numerous miscarriages, stillbirths, and the deaths of several infant children. It was entirely characteristic of her that she would try to relieve poverty among the Devonshire laceworkers.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

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One thought on “Queen Adelaide’s Flower-Acrostic Dress

  1. Pingback: Strange Flower Superstitions in Many Lands | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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