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The Springfield–Faithfull family collection is one of the largest collections donated to the Museum. It reveals the life and times of one family and their merino sheep property.

Springfield is the name of the property which is in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. It is approximately 200 km south of Sydney, 70 km from Canberra and 15 km from Goulburn. Springfield lies across part of the territory of the Gundungurra people.

Faithfull landau carriage

A landau carriage ordered from Brewster & Co Carriage Builders, New York by William Pitt Faithfull for his daughter Florence in 1889, features prominently in photographs of 19th-century Faithfull family events.

The carriage was made in New York and shipped to Australia in 1889. William Pitt Faithfull was a very tall man and he often wore his top hat while driving, so the coach had to be made 2 to 3 inches (5–8 centimetres) higher than the standard carriage.

A final account from Brewster’s reveals that the carriage and harness were purchased for a total cost of US$1,943.20 – a considerable sum in that day.

The carriage was used regularly to attended luncheons, afternoon teas and church during the day, and balls in the evening. The carriage continued to be used in the 20th century and is now a key part of the Museum’s collection.

A carriage photographed in a studio.

Landau carriage made by Brewster & Co, New York, and shipped to Australia in 1889

Conservation during COVID-19

As the Museum closed its doors in response to COVID-19 last year, a major conservation and research project was underway into one of the oldest dresses in the Museum’s collection.

This hand-stitched silk-brocade gown is part of the Springfield–Faithfull Family collection. It was made in the 1700s, most probably in England, and was brought to Australia 100 years later by English schoolteacher Mary Deane when she and her family immigrated to Australia.

Senior Curator Cheryl Crilly, Textile Conservator Michelle Newton-Edwards and Paper and Textile Conservator Kerryn Wagg are conserving the dress and researching its history.

The dress was the focus of the Museum’s 2019 annual appeal. The generosity of the Museum’s donor community enabled the conservation and ongoing research of this wonderful piece of Australian history.

Two female conservators work on a dress with intricate pattern and lace detail in a laboratory.
Textile conservators Michelle Newton-Edwards and Kerryn Wagg discuss areas of the dress that require detailed documentation

Springfield transformed

The Springfield collection contains more than 2,000 objects from a major rural property near Sydney. In this audio program, registrar Carol Cooper explores the remarkable family who cared for it, and the Museum’s work to make this collection available to the public.

Springfield transformed: family collection into national treasure

The history of the Springfield collection, more than 2000 objects from a major rural property near Sydney, is outlined by registrar Carol Cooper. She explores the remarkable family who cared for it and the Museum’s work to make this collection available.

We’ll keep bringing objects, collections, exhibitions and programs from the vault as part of the Museum from Home experience. Stay tuned!

In our collection

Photograph of Lilian Faithfull, Ann Deane, William Pitt Faithfull, Ethel Faithfull (nee Joplin) and Florence FaithfullBlack and white photograph on a cream coloured mount. Depicts from left to right, Lilian Faithfull, Ann Deane, William Pitt Faithfull, Ethel Faithfull (nee Joplin), Florence Faithfull standing beside a lattice screen, an unidentified woman seated on the ground and an unidentified maid standing beside her. Aunt Deane, William Pit...
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