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.

Bicornes, bonnets & boaters

Everyone needs a hat for some occasion. There’s quite a variety of headwear across the collections of Sydney Living Museums including a convict cap from Hyde Park Barracks; a bonnet from Vaucluse House; a Mounted Police cap from the Justice & Police Museum; a straw boater from Rouse Hill House; and a top hat from Meroogal. These hats, and others in the collection, range in date from early to late nineteenth century.

Asylum woman’s bonnet
Bessie Rouse’s bonnet
Convict cap
Edward Battye’s Mounted Police cap
Elizabeth Macarthur’s sunbonnet
Kathleen’s straw boater
Robert Taylor Thorburn’s silk hat
The Fedora
The Heritage family bonnet
William Wentworth’s bicorne