|Description: A black lady's bonnet made of synthetic straw-like material. It has a flat crown which is covered in black satin, leaving a 5.0 cm 'straw' brim. The brim is covered with 6.5 cm of dotted netting. There are two 65.0 cm long x 9.0 cm wide (folded to 5.0 cm) black silk ribbons for tying under the chin. Inside at the back of the hat is a (8.0 cm x 16.0 cm) velvet and mesh insert which gives shape to the hat so it fits close to the head. A small white elastic would have helped to keep the hat close to the head at the back. A bunch of violet fabric flowers are sewn under the brim at the front - these are likely a later addition.
History: The bonnet was donated by Sandra Lindsay. It may have belonged to her grandmother, Emily Mae Hodgetts (1879-1944) or her great grandmother Jessie Harriet Clark (1875-1935). This bonnet has been altered from the original and was sometimes worn by the donor's mother, Jean Lindsay, when she gave tours of Benares Historic House. Jean was a long-time volunteer and a childhood friend of Barbara Sayers Larson.
A bonnet is a kind of headgear which is usually brimless. The most common kind of bonnet worn today is a soft headcovering for babies. They are shaped similarly to the kind of bonnets women used to wear, that is they cover the hair and ears, but not the forhead. In the mid-18th century 'house bonnets' worn by women and girls were generally brimless headcoverings which were secured by tying under the chin. They were worn indoors, to keep the hair neat, and outdoors to keep dust out of the hair. With hairstyles becoming increasingly elaborate after 1770, bonnets became more structured and larger. The wide brims of ‘poke’ bonnets developed to prevent wind-chapping when taking the air out of doors in an open carriage. The effects of sun and wind on the skin had connotations of countrified rude health. Bonnets remained one of the most common types of headgear worn by women throughout the 19th century. Silk bonnets, elaborately pleated and ruched, were worn outdoors, or in public places like shops, galleries, churches, and during visits to aquaintances. Most middle class women would have had at least two bonnets, one suitable for summer weather, often made from straw, and one made from heavier fabric for winter wear. Wealthier women would have many more bonnets suitable for different occasions. REF: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnet_(headgear).