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Springfield collection

Burgundy skirt and bodice, 1876
Burgundy skirt and bodice, 1876. Photography of objects by George Serras, Dragi Markovic and Dean McNIcoll, National Museum of Australia

In 1827 WP Faithfull established the Springfield property near Goulburn. He chose the site because of its extensive grasslands and reliable water, and the Faithfull family developed a successful merino stud. The stud is now run by Faithfull's great-great-grandson Richard Maple-Brown and great-great-great-grandson James Maple-Brown.

In 2005, the Maple-Brown family donated a large number of items related to the history of the Springfield homestead to the National Museum of Australia. This impressive collection is mainly due to two remarkable family members: WP Faithfull's eldest daughter Florence and her niece Bobbie Maple-Brown. Florence never married and lived in the homestead until her death in 1949 (a total of 98 years). She seems to have kept almost everything that ever belonged to the family. Florence's sentimentality and good housekeeping resulted in a very significant accumulation of clothing, books and other domestic items, many dating from the nineteenth century. Most are in superb condition.

When Florence died, Bobbie Maple-Brown moved into the homestead with her husband Irwin and their family. Bobbie had always been intensely interested in her family's history and carefully brought together and sorted her family's possessions after she renovated the house in the 1950s. She also converted two rooms into the 'Springfield Museum'. Items on display included medals and other memorabilia related to an encounter with the notorious Gilbert-Hall bushranging gang in 1865. Some objects in the collection pre-date 1800, and most likely were brought to Australia from England by members of the extended Deane,
Pitt and Faithfull families.

This burgundy dress, which probably once belonged to Florence, is a shining example of one of the beautiful outfits in the Springfield collection. The dress, which is more than 150 years old, shows signs of being worn on more than one occasion. However, it was obviously stored very carefully, hence its excellent and 'near new' appearance. The pin cushion, with its selection of delicate and ornate hatpins, the decorative blue cut-glass bottle and the hair comb, all represent the more feminine and domestic side of life on a large rural property.

Cinnamon van Reyk

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