#52Ancestors: Week 3: Favourite Photo

The Wedding

When I saw this week’s prompt I immediately thought of this wonderful photo of the wedding party at my Grandma’s garden circa 1938. My mother Winnie is on the extreme right and her sister Doris, the bride, is third from the left. At the back, I can see my Grandma Mary Jane. Sadly I never knew her. I had to then confirm the identity of the other ladies by contacting my cousin Sally. Thankfully Sally was able to identify each of them.

Two of the ladies are related to the bridegroom, one is Essie Dale (wife of George Dale, the groom) and I never knew them. Together we recognised Auntie Margaret (wife of Uncle Reg) and Great Auntie Edie (Edith Howells) next to my Mum; and Aunt Evelyn (Evie) Howells, daughter of Edith Howells. All of the pieces of my Cutting Line puzzle fell into place. I loved seeing the fashion of the day; their dresses of silk and organdie flowing gracefully. Florals were popular as was the lovely cape worn by Auntie Doris.

I was not yet on the scene; this being 1938; however, my older siblings, Pamela Marie, John Keith, and June Patricia were. Sadly they are all now deceased. That knowledge sent me scurrying back to the old photo albums to find the pictures on my sisters and brother John, on that day. (I’ll save them for another post.)

A light bulb moment: my brother John was probably named after our Great, Great Grandfather John Cutting.

Private Collection of Carole McCulloch
Doris Elsie Grace Cutting married Percy Nelson [George] Dale 1938

The wedding garden party photo got me thinking about what other brides from my ancestral tree may have worn on their wedding day, so I did some research. I was interested in the fashions and events of the 19th century (especially as I was researching my great, greats in the 1820s). With a simple Google search I found the perfect blog site, with a plethora of historical posts and stories of the Regency fashions by Mimi Matthews at: https://www.mimimatthews.com/

Further research into wedding gowns of the 1820s in the United Kingdom brought me to a beautiful page at Pinterest, displaying wedding gowns from the era. Including the one displayed below from the London Victoria Albert Museum.

This wedding dress was the closest I could find to the description I had included in the pre-wedding preparation story for Ann Craddock.

1828 wedding dress London Victoria Albert museum

Ann married my Great, Great grandfather John Cutting in the Trinity Church, Penton Mewsey, Hampshire, the UK on the 27th May 1826. John Cutting featured in my post for Week 2 of this #52 Ancestors challenge; John Cutting – Publican of the New Inn. That story was set in the 1840s.

My story below, set in the 1820s, is my fictional tale of the preparations for the wedding of my Great, Great Grandparents John Cutting and Ann Craddock. I am hoping that it appeals to a wider audience, not just my genealogy followers. For example, my network of friends includes those who love needlework in one form or another; dressmaking, quilting, sashiko, and embroidery.

It is also building into a mystery tale as I delve into the old archives for this family and add some fanciful flounces of my own. So I am hoping it will appeal to those in my network who love the Genealogical Mysteries.

The Wedding preparations

24 May 1826, Penton Mewsey

It was just three days before the wedding and temperatures were already climbing. Susannah was furiously finishing the trimmings on the bridal gown and frowning as dark memories of another wedding in the village crowded her mind. ‘Just 26 years ago when I married my John. Funny to think that our Ann is marrying another John.’ Sweat beaded on her brow as she sewed the final trimming into place on the bridal gown. ‘Just three days to go’, she said to herself. She frowned and called out to her daughter, Ann. 

The fields around the old farmhouse in Penton Mewsey were steaming already, and it was just past noon. It was one of the hottest summers ever; the heatwave and the drought were plaguing the farmers of Penton Mewsey. Not a breath of air was stirring, and the cows hung their heads low as they ambled into the shade of the old oak tree. Ann, her face dripping with sweat, looked back over her shoulder as she heard her mother’s voice calling her. She patted the rump of the cow she had milked and sent it on its way. Gathering the pail, she hastily walked back to the kitchen and found the door open. ‘Hello, ma!’ she called out as she kicked the door shut with her foot.

‘I’m finished with yer weddin’ gown,’ said Mrs. Craddock. She stood and shook the folds of the dress to the floor for her daughter to see. The sheer white taffeta dress was simple in its design, with a heart-shaped bodice embroidered all over with silk thread; roses, love knots, and white satin ribbons enhanced the whitework. The drop-line puffed sleeves were edged with fine lace and trimmed with satin ribbon. The whitework embroidery continued the theme around the hemline, imbuing the dress with romantic elegance.

‘Oh Ma, it is beautiful. You have created the dress of my dreams for my special day. Thank you so much. Can I try it on now?’ said Ann, with tears in her eyes.

‘You’d best be having a bath and cleaning all that cow dung off yer before you try this little beauty on.’ Her mother laughed and placed the dress carefully over a chair.

‘You’ve won the heart of a special man, in that John Cutting. Me and your Da are so happy for you both. We are proud that you will be stepping up in the world. I’m off now to the church to see the Reverend about the flowers. Mind you, don’t get that dress dirty now!’ she smiled and hugged her daughter, stripped off her apron, and placed her best Sunday go-to-meeting hat on her head.

Ann filled a jug with water from the pump by the back door, then ran up the stairs to her room, trying not to slop the water on the floor. She poured the water into the basin on the dressing table beside her bed and, with the new soap she had purchased from the peddler, she stripped and washed clean. She pulled on a clean linen slip and drawers and rushed downstairs again to try on the wedding gown.

Ann had only just put the dress on when her twin brother, John, rushed in the kitchen door. Ann spun around in surprise and was curious to know why her brother had come in from working on the farm so early in the day. John was puffing and panting and very red in the face. He did not realise that Ann was dressed in her bridal gown, and he slumped down on a chair, trying to catch his breath. Ann sat down too and put her hand on her brother’s shoulder and asked him if he was alright?

His answer shocked her and her hand went to her mouth to quell the screech that she felt emerging in her throat.

Now that is not the end of this tale, there will be more.

What do you think John said?

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