DRESS WORN BY MARY FENTON WHITELAW FOR ROYAL BALL IN BALLARAT, 1867
Mary Fenton Whitelaw’s green silk gown from 1867 is one of the highlights of the Gold Museum’s Costume Collection. At the age of 17, she wore it to an exclusive ball in Ballarat, to celebrate the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. This was an important event in Ballarat’s social history, as it was the first time the city had hosted royalty. Prince Alfred was the second son of Queen Victoria, and he spent five months touring Australia in 1867.
Mary’s dress is part of a collection of more than 50 items relating to her family, including letters, photographs and objects. Together they provide a glimpse of what life was like for a respectable middle-class family in Ballarat from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries.