Victoria and Albert Museum – exploration of historical mourning

The V&A have a fantastic resource on their website that allows you to search the collections for items by keyword. This gave me fantastic opportunity to search for items specifically related to the active morning historically.I spent some time researching and saved items I was particularly interested in within Evernote.

Armed with my list I was able to visit and see item relating directly to my current interest.

First I visited the jewellery area where there are some beautiful examples of Victorian mourning jewellery and memento mori.


“This mourning ring was made to commemorate the death of a child, whose brief life is symbolised by the drooping rosebud on the left-hand side of the plant. According to the inscription, the child was called Butterfield Harrison and died on 14 March 1792 aged 2 years 9 months and 14 days. Although black is the colour most usually associated with mourning, white was used for children and sometimes for the unmarried.”

“Pierced gold mourning slide, with enamelled skulls, crossbones, a winged heart, flowers and leaves, England, mid 17th century.”

Next I visited the British galleries to see a finely embroidered mourning handkerchief that was originally owned by Queen Victoria. T.47-1957

V and A Mourning Handkerchief

The Victorians had several stages of morning and the first stage lasted for one year and one day. This mourning handkerchief would have been used later into the period of mourning as during the first stage only black handkerchiefs would have been allowed.

I visited a painting called throwing off her weeds by Richard Redgrave. This painting is of a young widow about to discard have black morning clothes. FA.170[0]

Lydia Dwight Dead and Lydia Dwight resurrected are early ceramic sculptures commissioned to capture the likeness of a daughter for the family to perpetuate her memory. 1055-1871 1054-1871

lydia Dwight Dead / Ressurected


With a bit of previous planning this has been a very productive visit to the V&A, that has kept my visit focused and has meant I have seen everything I really wanted to see.


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