Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 2:13pm

Was it a necessity, fashion accessory, or uniform? Excavated from beneath the floorboards of the northern dormitory on level 3 of Hyde Park Barracks, this simple cotton bonnet bears the black ‘HPA’ stamp and broad arrow (indicating government property) of the Hyde Park Asylum. Home to hundreds of frail, aged and destitute women, the Hyde Park Asylum occupied the top floor of the Hyde Park Barracks from 1862 until 1886. The women of the Asylum were supplied with ‘a complete change of suitable clothing, upon entrance, if required’, including bonnets such as this. Along with masses of other textile pieces, newspaper scraps, and the occasional treasured object, this bonnet somehow found its way under the floor near the door to the corridor at the eastern end of the room. Perhaps the bonnet was left lying on the ground one evening by an inmate of the asylum, and one of the dormitory rats pulled it down below the floorboards to use for a nest?

Photograph: Jamie North, 2013
Asylum bonnet from Hyde Park Barracks Museum archaeology collection  Asylum bonnet from Hyde Park Barracks Museum archaeology collection  Asylum bonnet from Hyde Park Barracks Museum archaeology collection (detail) Asylum bonnet from Hyde Park Barracks Museum archaeology collection
Portrait
Hyde Park Barracks
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HPB UF11521