Saturday, 14 February 2015

Grahamstown Gazette: the Valentines edition

This year, I've been writing monthly columns about The Treasury for the Grahamstown Gazette. Here's my piece for the February edition.

From The Treasury

Violet Bird wore a veil of orange blossoms when she married Stoddart Thomas in 1914. The ceremony took place in St. George’s Church on Mackay St, and was reported in the Thames Star. The newspaper reports that Violet was ‘gracefully gowned in a trained robe of white voile, trimmed in lace,’ and her two bridesmaids looked ‘sweetly pretty’ in pale pink silk ninon frocks with black silk and tulle hats. She was given away by her brother, Alec, and her bridesmaids were James’ sister Hilda and Violet’s younger sister Gertrude, both of whom were given handbags. Later, after the wedding reception in a nearby schoolroom attended by ‘friends, relatives and the general public,’ the couple set off on the train for Te Aroha. 

There’s a folder in the Reading Room at The Treasury dedicated to wedding photos. There are none – yet! – of Violet and James Thomas’ wedding, but there are plenty of other images of Thames brides wearing orange blossoms and tulle. The folder is just as much a testament to a hundred years of changing bridal fashion on the Coromandel as it is a family history resource. Amongst the black-and-white brides of the early twentieth century, you’ll also find war brides, twenties glamour, and sixties chic. The most recent image in the folder is from a wedding in 2003. It’s also interesting to see how formal or informal some of the photographs are. Some of the happy couples don’t look too happy at all – I imagine some of those flamboyant outfits were particularly hot to wear in a packed church on a sweltering summer’s day.

As well as the wedding photograph album, we also have a large collection of marriage certificates, as well as permissions to marry, for couples who both married or later settled in the region. If you have some photos of your own to add to the collection, bring them in the The Treasury and we can scan them for the marriage folder.

The Treasury is open from 11am to 3pm on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Researching costs $15 an hour per person for non-members and $5 for members, while non-researching Gold Card holders can pop in and read a book in our Reading Room for free. Be sure to check out our website and like us on Facebook.

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