Camden · Fashion · Interwar · Local History · Modernism · sense of place · Weddings

A wedding and a little bit of 1920s modernism

Some photographs from the Camden Images Past and Present came the attention of the CHN blogger from the early 1920s. One from 1922 and, a second, the Duesbury-Burford wedding from 1925.

The images speak of the forces modernism and the fashions of the Interwar period. They illustrate how even the small country town of Camden did not escape the global transnational fashion trends of 1920s.

In 1925 the Adelaide News  reported on the wedding of 30 year old Frank Duesbury, the son of Lewis and Catherine Duesbury of Camden. Frank married 28 year old Ethel Burford who came from  Semaphore near the Port Adelaide district located on the St Vincent Gulf coastline.

Camden Ethel Muriel Burford, wedding to Frank Garnet Duesbury, 16 May, 1925, Enmore NSW CIPP[1]
The wedding of 28 year old  Ethel Muriel Burford to 30 year old Frank Garnet Duesbury, 16 May, 1925 at Enmore NSW (Camden Images Past and Present)
Frank was one of five children of Lewis and Catherine, the others being Esther, Ruebell, Jessie and Lewis. The family lived at 64 Harrington Street, Elderslie then by 1918 in Menangle Road Camden. The family later moved into Balmacarra at 35 Elizabeth Street. Lewis worked for CT Whiteman from 1893 after running general stores in Dungog, Kempsey and Sydney.

Elderslie 64 Harrington St[1]
The Duesbury family lived at 64 Harrington Street Elderslie in the years before the First World War. This cottage is a typical of the Edwardian style in the Camden district. There are a number in the Elderslie area built and owned by the Bruchhauser family who were local viticulturalists. (I Willis, 2017)
In June 1918 Frank volunteered for service during the First World War. At the time he was employed as an assessor with the Federal Taxation Department.

Frank and Ethel became engaged in 1922. Ethel embraced modernism and the fashions of the 1920s and all they represented to her. The image of her at her engagement says it all.

Ether Muriel Burford 1922 Engagement CIPP
This a lovely hand-tinted photograph of  25 year old Ether Muriel Burford in 1922 on her engagement to Camden fiance Frank Duesbury (Camden Images Past and Present)

An engagement is a betrothal and in most cultures is period before the marriage ceremony where the couple get to know each other and is considered a trial marriage. The engagement ring in European cultures dates back to the Roman period and more recently influenced by marriage practices of the middle ages.

In the tradition of British culture, including Australia, the wedding is one of the big days of a woman’s life, the others being baptism and funerals. The wedding was a big day in Ethel’s life.

The wedding day, according Elizabeth Davies on her website A Brief History of the Wedding Dress in Britain, is one of the great public occasions when the people involved can fully appreciate the glory of their central role. She maintains that the bride has always tried to make the wedding a special day, a fairy tale come true for many.

In the British Empire royal weddings were very influential on fashion trends and in times gone past were of great political importance. The young princess had to uphold the national prestige and present herself as a symbol of the power and wealth of the nation.

One of the most important in the modern period was the marriage of Prince Albert to the reigning Queen Victoria in 1840. Both 18 years old and smitten with each other. The marriage was of immense political importance to Great Britain and its position in the world at the time. It was the first wedding of a reigning English queen in 300 years.

The marriage of Victoria and Albert is currently the subject of the TV series called Victoria.

The Duesbury-Burford wedding in 1925 was of great importance to the families of those involved. The wedding was reported in the Adelaide News and took place in Sydney. The wedding took place at the Church of Christ Tabernacle at Enmore.

Enmore Church of Christ Tabernacle
The Enmore Church of Christ Tabernacle in the early 20th century where Frank and Ethel were married in 1925. (Jubilee Pictorial History of the Church of Christ)

The bride, Ethel, was dressed in ‘a charming tube frock of crepe stella’ reflecting the fashions. The 1920 flapper style was reflected in the wedding styles at a time and was a revolution in women’s clothing. The hemlines rose and the wedding dresses followed suit. The corset had disappeared and the sense of freedom for women was a rebellion against the excesses of the First World War. Ethel’s wedding gown reflected all of these notions.

Ethel’s outfit was described this way by the News:

The court train was lined with georgette, and was handsomely embroidered with pearls and orange blossom. Her veil of cut tulle was held in place with a wreath of orange blossom, and she carried a shower bouquet of roses and sweet peas.

The orange blossom in the wreath was a symbol of fertility, and was also used in 1840 by Queen Victoria.

Edith’s gown of georgette would have been quite expensive particularly as it was embroidered with pearls. Goergette fabric has been described this way on Utsavpedia:

Georgette is a light-weight, crinkled and sheer fabric, displaying an overall bouncy look. A strong absorbent, Georgette is easy to dye and has dull-rough texture. Georgette is woven in highly twisted yarns of S & Z, in both warp and weft. Georgette is woven in two forms: Pure and Faux. Pure Georgette is woven out of Silk yarns, while the Faux Georgette is woven from Rayon and Polyester.

The wedding party was dressed in marocain fabric which is described on the Sartor All About Silk website this way:

Silk crepe marocain (heavy silk) is a luxurious heavy silk fabric with a nice drape. It is similar to heavy satin but in contrary to super smooth and lustrous satins it has a somewhat grainy surface and dull finish. Silk crepe marocain wears very well and is a favorite fabric for women blouses, shirts, summer dresses, skirts, scarves and of course luxury lingerie, tops, evening and bridalwear. It combines well with airy semi-transparent and dull georgettes.

The press report of the wedding in the News stated:

Miss Edith Burford (niece of the bride) was bridesmaid. She was frocked in powder blue marocain, with flared tunic edged with silver lace. A silver bandeau was worn round her head, and a bouquet of pink carnations was carried. Little Marjory Dumbrill, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Dumbrill, formerly of Semaphore, was train bearer. and looked pretty in pleated pale pink georgette trimmed with pale pink and blue rosebuds. A wreath of silver leaves was worn round her head. The bridegroom was supported by Mr. Stanley Taylor.

At the reception the bride’s sister-in law received her guests in a smart gown of navy marocain with Oriental trimmings.  She carried a sheaf of autumn leaves and flowers. The bride travelled in a smart frock of penny brown jacquard marocain. with cloche hot to match. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Duesbury are residing at Gordon, New South Wales.

Gordon of the 1920s was an on the rural-urban fringe of Sydney and had a number of real estate subdivisions where young couple could buy a first home. The suburb was an expression of modernism. It was accessible to the city by the railway which had arrived in 1890 and encouraged the breaking up of local farms for housing. The Interwar period was a time of change and there was rapid housing growth.

Newly weds Frank and Ethel were an expression of modernism and they embraced it and all it stood for in their lifestyle and their family life.

Read more

(Adelaide) News 22 August 1925.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.