Bankfield welcomes Brontë dress

Exterior photo of Bankfield Museum

The Fashion Gallery at Bankfield Museum is welcoming a new and very significant visitor, as Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Thackeray dress’ will be on display from Saturday 15 February 2020.

The dress, which is one of only a few surviving dresses to have been worn by the author, has been kindly loaned to Calderdale Council by the Brontë Parsonage.

The style of the dress is typical of the period, with a long-sleeved, high-necked bodice and a full floor-length skirt. Although many alterations have been made over the years, many original features are believed to still exist, including the brass and mother of pearl buttons and the hand stitching around the bodice.

Known as the ‘Thackeray dress’, there is evidence to suggest the dress may have been worn to a dinner party held in Charlotte’s honour by William Makepeace Thackeray. However, due to its informal daytime style, there are uncertainties over whether it would have been worn by Charlotte for the special evening dinner or at an earlier daytime meeting with Thackeray.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Cllr Susan Press, said:

“It’s a real achievement that Bankfield Museum has been successful in securing this important piece of historical fashion and I’d like to thank the Brontë Parsonage for allowing the loan of this garment.

“The dress will be a fantastic addition to the Fashion Gallery, which showcases a range of fashions from ancient Egypt to the modern day. It will also complement the new ‘As Seen on TV’ costume exhibition in Bankfield’s North Gallery, making the museum a must-visit destination for all fashion lovers.”

The dress will be on display until Saturday 5 September at Bankfield Museum’s Fashion Gallery, which takes up the entire top floor of the museum.  Visitors to the gallery will be able to see all sides of the dress and examine it in close detail.

It will also be discussed at the Fashion Seminar day ‘From Stitches to Screen’, on Sunday 28 June, where there will be a range of speakers from academic, fashion, television and design backgrounds including the award-winning Downton Abbey and Poldark costume designer Susannah Buxton and costume historian Eleanor Houghton. Tickets can be booked now via the Calderdale Museums website.

Bankfield Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am – 4pm, with free entry.

For more information visit or follow @BankfieldMuseum on twitter.

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