How young English school teacher Mary Deane captured the heart of Australian pastoralist William Pitt Faithfull is a story that has been passed down through the generations.
Walking out of the Misses Deane School in the early 1840s, Mary noticed a gentleman unloading apples from his cart. 'You should be careful,' she cautioned, 'you are not unloading those apples properly, you will hurt your back.'
William had travelled to the boarding school in Sydney from his sheep station, Springfield near Goulburn, to collect his nieces. This, thought William, was the perfect woman — an educated and refined young lady who could speak her mind and was looking after his wellbeing.
In 1844 Mary and William married. Mary and her family, who had immigrated to Australia from England in 1838, moved to Springfield.
Mary and William's story is just one of many held within the Museum’s Springfield-Faithfull collection. This incredible collection of colonial objects, including pieces owned by both Mary and William, was donated by their great-great-great-great-grandchildren, Jim Maple-Brown and Diana Boyd, and Jim’s wife, Pamela.
Pamela Maple-Brown has spent many hours with the Museum’s curators and this is just one of the stories she remembers being told as a young girl. Behind each object in the Museum’s collection are stories of people, country and community that broaden our understanding of what it means to be Australian.
This year’s Annual Appeal has been raising funds to research and conserve for display one of the Springfield-Faithfull textile treasures. The oldest dress in the Museum’s collection is a green silk brocade gown from the 1700s, created in London and brought to Australia by Mary almost 100 years later.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of our donor community, we have raised almost $40,000 — enough to research, conserve and display this significant piece. The Museum’s expert curatorial and conservation teams have already begun work, undertaking in-depth research into the provenance of the fabric and its design.
The dress has presented many mysteries and challenges. It was altered several times by generations of the Springfield-Faithfull family and our teams have been working to date the alterations to determine the original design and sizing.
This has included work with other institutions that hold pieces from these eras, such as the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney. Research will enable a conservation plan to be developed.
The treatment will stabilise the costume for display, alongside supporting material from the Springfield-Faithfull collection, including photographs.
Our generous donors have enabled us to add more chapters to the story of this magnificent textile and the family who have cared for it for generations.
As funds continue to come in, they will be directed towards vital display elements for the costume, such as underpinnings and a mannequin, as well as the research and conservation of other treasures from the Springfield-Faithfull collection.
If you would like to donate to the 2019 Annual Appeal, please call (02) 6208 5373.
In our collection