Threads of connection
HR93/132 Bessie Rouse (b.1843) was the very attractive and fashionable mistress of Rouse Hill House from her marriage in 1874 to Edwin Stephen Rouse (1849-1931) until she died in 1924. Her stylish olive green silk velvet bonnet is elaborately trimmed with beads, gold braid, sequins and artificial pearls and has two silk ribbons draping from the back. Bessie was thought to have bought it from a milliner to wear at her daughter, Nina's, marriage to George Terry in 1895. The bonnet is constructed with a wire frame and would most probably have been kept in place with one of her many elegant hatpins. The date is puzzling as this style would have been out of vogue by 1895. If this recollection is correct, we know that Bessie was proud of her beautiful red hair and this style of bonnet would have revealed it very nicely whenever she wore it. She may have continued wearing the style well beyond its vogue. This is an important example of professional millinery of the late 19th century. The Hamilton Rouse Hill Trust Collection. Photograph (c) Alex Kershaw.