gowns and bedgowns

Introduction:

It is probable that the traditional Welsh costume developed out of one worn by women throughout much of Britain and many parts of Europe during the 18th century. The most distinctive feature of the Welsh costume (other than the Welsh hat) is the gown or bedgown which was rather like a  jacket, often with short sleeves and with a tail of varying length.  Unfortunately, in illustrations, they were often hidden beneath a shawl and apron, and side or back views of them are rare.

Terminology:

A lot of confusion has been created by the use of the single word ‘bedgown’, which was a gown worn by working women almost anywhere except in bed. There are hundreds of references to the terms bedgown, gown or jacket in accounts of tours of Wales, newspapers, novels, official reports and academic articles. It appears in both English and in phonetic spellings of bedgown in Welsh. See under bedgown/gown in terminology, some of which is repeated below.

Distinguishing the bedgown from the night gown

The term ‘bedgown’ may be distinguished from the item for which two words are used – bed gown, night gown or night dress (with or without hyphens) which was worn in bed.

The term for night-gown in the midlands of Wales  is crys-nos and g(o)wn nos and cot nos in the south (Thomas, Alan R., The Linguistic Geography of Wales, (1973), p. 513). The term gŵn gwely (a literal translation of bedgown) is never used.

There is a further complication however. A ‘nightgown’ was originally an informal dress, but by the mid-18th century it was stylish every-day wear with high fitting bodice and modest ornamentation. (Ribeiro, Aileen (1995). Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750–1820. Yale University Press. p. 64)

Origins of the gown / bedgown

The gown/bedgown was a garment worn by working women throughout Europe from at least the 17th century (there are many illustrations of these) and this might have influenced or been influenced by:

  • a bedgown worn in the morning by affluent ladies during much of the 18th century. This had developed from a full gown which was first worn by women in the 16th century. During the next two centuries the front was cut back, revealing the lower part of the undergarment – the coat – hence the term petticoat for the lower garment. The top was low cut and a kerchief, shawl or fishu was worn around the neck to cover the top of the breasts. The back of the outer bedgown survived as a tail, and generally, the sleeves were short. It has been defined as: A loose negligee gown worn during the 18th century by both sexes. The name was also given to a loose house gown worn by women in the mornings which had elbow length sleeves, a bodice and a long skirt open in front displaying a petticoat. (Yarwood, Doreen, Costume of the Western World, (1980), Bedgown). The pet en l’air, the caraco, the pierrot, the casaquin, the saque / sack, the polonaise, the riding habit / redingote and the figaro had features in common with the gown and bedgown. Most of these consisted of a jacket with a tail which became shorter over time. The terminology and definitions of these items of clothing are sometimes a matter of uncertainty and dispute. see further and more
  • a gown similar to that worn by rural women was adopted by affluent ladies in an attempt to emulate the healthy, attractive milkmaids who were seen in idealistic rural settings. In France, following the Revolution, it has been suggested that the upper classes adopted fashions based on traditional dress. In terms of everyday dress, jacket and skirt styles were both practical and tactful, for they recalled the clothing of the working woman, however remotely. … Another popular deshabille was a sleeveless bodice worn peasant style over the chemise gown. … Duchess Dowager of Rutland was painted by Reynolds painted her in a bedgown – a simple dress with cross-over front. (Ribeiro, Aileen, Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750–1820. Yale University Press (1995), pp. 86, 23-4); English gentlewomen often dressed in costumes said to have been based on that worn by rural working women – straw hat, loose gown, apron etc. Sometimes the costume of the lady and the servant were difficult to distinguish. (Ribeiro, Aileen, and Cumming, Valerie, The Visual History of Costume, 1989, p. 135)

For example, see The celebrated Kitty Fisher (Oppe, A.P., The Drawings of Paul and Thomas Sandby in the collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, 1947, cat. no. 258, plate 95)

The process might then have been reversed: it was not unusual for country dresses to be based on fashionable costumes of an earlier period. Maidservants to the rich sometimes inherited their mistresses gowns and these were copied in local fabrics by their peers.

Illustrations of women in gowns and bedgowns outside Wales.

Riding jacket

The gown worn by Welsh women was sometimes called a jacket, and some of the tall hats seen on images of Welsh women, including those said to have been commissioned by Lady Llanover, are like the ‘equestrian’ hats worn by affluent women when riding. The Pembrokeshire gown, in particular, with its short, wide tail or peplum, is like a riding jacket.

English gentlewomen dressed in masculine costumes (jackets, men’s hats), when riding on horseback, walking or travelling. (Ribeiro, Aileen, and Cumming, Valerie, The Visual History of Costume, 1989, pp. 133, 157)

The origin of the term ‘bedgown’

The origins of the use of the word ‘bed’ in association with ‘gown’ for a working costume is uncertain.  It might have been applied either to a gown originally worn in bed and later found to be a comfortable and practical jacket for daytime use, or it was adopted from the gown originally worn in a bedroom by the rich (but not in bed and not a dressing gown).

The term ‘bedgown’ has been used for a number of types of garment, mostly in 20th century academic articles which describe the costume of 19th century women.

BEDGOWN. The Old dress of Cheshire, most becoming to the figure, worn within memory of the present generation, by farmer’s wives, peasant women, and most women servants. It is a short gown, open in front, tied at the waist, in fact an upper jacket to the striped linsey petticoat, generally red and black, or blue-black, and worn everywhere except in bed.  (Egerton Leigh, A glossary of words used in the dialect of Cheshire, (1877))

Anthea Jarvis, formerly of the museum of Costume, Platt Hall, Manchester, wrote: “Bedgown” is a very tricky term. At Manchester we assumed it meant the T shaped garment, wrapped over the front and held in place by the apron strings, about mid-thigh length, but when pulled in at the waist would end up shorter. (Called “short gown” in the USA) The fitted-bodice version I think I would call a gown, if it had a long “tail” at the back, or a jacket-bodice if it was fitted and had a short, all-round peplum below the waist. The latter style was very common in peasant dress in Europe, and was worn informally in Britain in the 2nd half of the 18th century, sometimes referred to as an “pet-en-l’air”  

The International Committee of Museums costume term list does not include the term bedgown at all (nor any of the Welsh versions of this word). The nearest is Woman’s garments 1.12 Dress, two piece, comprising bodice and skirt and Woman’s garments Dress (3) three or more pieces, comprising Gown, Petticoat and Stomacher (18th century). Elsewhere, a single garment comprising a bodice and tail (as illustrated in the first sketch in their classification, no. 1.12) is called a gown, or sometimes, open gown which was normally worn with a petticoat or pais. The other main sort of bedgown, the T shaped short jacket, would fall into category 1.22 (Bodice, Jacket, Cardigan)

Distribution in Wales

The suggested distribution of these types of gown and bedgown (below) is supported by the surviving evidence but this may not be representative because:

  • few gowns and fewer bedgowns have survived;
  • surviving examples might be late 19th or early 20th century in date;
  • most of the illustrations of costume are by tourists who didn’t visit all parts of Wales (especially parts of central Wales);
  • many photographs of Welsh costume are staged, and the costumes might have been supplied by the photographer, who might not have had costumes typical of the area where the photographs were taken. (However, the three bedgowns supplied by the photographer John Thomas‘ appear to be of north Wales type, where the photographs are thought to have been taken)
  • Gowns and bedgowns, or the lack of them, may well have been influenced after about 1860 by perceptions of national costume.

Types

In Wales two distinct types of what have been called bedgowns have been identified: the gown and bedgown.

Gowns

 

A Cardiganshire / Carmarthenshire gown

Most surviving examples are from Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire (detailed description).

They are of red and black (or very dark blue) striped flannel but illustrations show that blue and white stripes were also worn. They have a well tailored back with low-cut front, pinned across the bosom and open below this to expose a skirt of the same fabric as the gown. The back continued almost to the ankles, forming a tail. The gown was held in place across the bosom with thorn or other sorts of pin and by the strings of an apron which protected the skirt. The tail was sometimes pinned up at the back.

Some gowns now have press-studs or hooks and eyes which were probably added at a later date.

The complex and fine tailoring required in their manufacture suggests that they were made by professionals, rather than at home.

At least 75 examples of these survive. They cannot easily be dated, but they certainly existed in the 1830s:  one was illustrated as an example of Cardiganshire costume in the set of 13 prints dated 1834, attributed to Lady Llanover. They were later adopted as part of the national costume.

can6067

 

 

A variation of this type, of which only two examples are known to survive, has a rectangular skirt gathered and sewn along the straight bottom edge of the bodice. Unlike the other type, these have a very high neck. The upper part of the sleeve is ‘leg of mutton’ or baloon shaped.

 

 

 

IMG_7493

 

Another variation is the Pembrokeshire gown or jacket of plain brown fabric and short tail or peplum. These are like ladies’ riding coats,

 

 

 

 

D26.4 bedgown frontD26.4 bedgown backDoll with a north-Wales type of gown.

A gown found in north-west Wales was more like a jacket or coat with a small square collar and long sleeves made of wool, often striped. No surviving examples are known except one on a doll but a few illustrations are known.

For more illustrations of gowns on dolls, see Welsh costume doll gowns

Bedgowns

The other types of gown worn in Wales are referred to as a bedgown. These were very simply made,  in a T-shape, straight-sided or flared. Most have no fastenings but were wrapped around the body and tied in place at the waist by an apron.

Several types may be distinguished.

can7050

Simple, unstructured T form with long sleeves and a simple open front. These were made of cotton or wool.  The armpits often have a square of fabric (a gusset) folded in half to form a triangle.

 

 

 

can7398

It was T shaped with little or no collar, sometimes with triangular shaped gores sewn into the seams down the sides to make the lower half flared.

 

 

 

 

can6775

A variation on the T shape and has a broad collar and short sleeves. These were normally made of cotton and seem to have been restricted to north-west Wales. Two surviving examples are in Gwynedd Museum and Art gallery.

 

 

The T shaped bedgown would have been a practical article to wear in bed (as a bedjacket), and may well have been, but there is no evidence for this. Being large and shapeless, it would also have been a very practical item to wear over other layers of clothes or when pregnant in contrast to the surviving tailored gowns, all of which have very narrow waists (24-26 inches).

Survival of use
It appears that the gown and bedgown was worn in Wales for longer than in England. Early visitors noted how distinct it was from the dress of the English farm workers who had already adopted bright, light cotton dresses with lots of frills. Where bedgowns were still worn in England, they tended to be plain and of cotton or linsey-woolsey and worn by old women and the poor: bedgowns is Wales were uniquely made of striped flannel.

The reason for the survival of the bedgown in Wales is unknown, but it may have been the result of three factors: the retention of what had become a tradition; the practicality of a hard-wearing, warm, waterproof garment and the fact that it could be made cheaply and almost entirely at home from locally produced wool.

However, by the very end of the century, some Welsh women were already beginning to wear English fashions, and it is likely that gowns and bedgowns became restricted to the remoter parts of Wales but were also adopted for best dress to be worn on special occasions.

Early references to bedgown, gown, jacket, jerkin, etc.

In most of the references below, it is assumed that the use of the term ‘bedgown’ and its derivatives refers to a gown worn during the day and not in bed.

1666
In the anonymous poem describing the funeral of Sir Thomas Myddelton of Chirk Castle, north Wales (1666), a number of poor people, equivalent to Sir Thomas’ age, were given gowns to be worn at the funeral.
Next unto them the Neighbouring poore
Amounting to above fowrscore,
As many years as he did live
for every year a gowne did give,
for well we knew, when he was dead,
for want of worke they must want bread.
NLW, Myddelton, Chirk Castle accounts, p. 143

about 1747
I will spin our wool and make stockings for Morgan [her son] and myself, and the weaver shall weave us a piece of Tilsy-wolsy [Linsey woolsey?] every year, and the tailor shall make Morgan a suit of clothes and me a gown, and we will sow our own flax and I will spin that into shirts, shifts and sheets, and we will live so well and go so fine as we can.
Broadsheet about a woman and her husband going to London ‘Unnafred Shones, wife to Shon ap Morgan’, published by William Dicey, London, c 1747

1773
Mary, the wife of Richard Hughes, late of the parish of Pentraeth, labourer, for theft from Catherine Williams of the same parish, of one bedgown value six pence, one waistcoat, value three pence and one cap value two pence.
Anglesey Quarter Sessions, 7.7.1773

1774 (Pembrokeshire)
The women, even in the midst of summer, generally wear a heavy cloth gown, and instead of a cap, a large handkerchief wrapt over their heads and tied under their chins.
Wyndham, Henry Penruddocke (1736-1819) A gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774. London, 1775, (1st Edition); A new edition. To which is added, an account of a journey into Wales, by George Lord Lyttleton. London, T. Evans, 1781; (2nd edition) London, 1794 pp. 76-78.

 1774 [Llanberis]
The matron clad in a beaver hat, and a blue gown, handkerchief and apron
Cullum, Sir John, Tour Through Several Counties of England and Part of North Wales, 1774. Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk Record Office, E2/44/2.1-2.3

(1786) Britton Ferry
They were dressed, after the Welsh fashion, in blue jackets, and black beaver hats, with ribbands and roses depending [sic] from them …
Matthews, William, (of Bath), The miscellaneous companions. Vol. I Being a short tour of observation and sentiment, through a part of South Wales. (Bath, 1786, pp 82-3)

1787 [Aberystwyth]
The women universally wear a petticoat and a jacket fitting close to the waist, of striped woollen cloth and a man’s hat.
Copies of Catherine Hutton’s letters to her brother Thomas at Birmingham, Aberystwyth, July, 1787, Birmingham City Archives, MS 3597; published in Hutton Beale, Catherine, Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the last century; letters of Catherine Hutton (Birmingham, Cornish Brothers, 1891), pp. 43-54.

1787 [Tregaron]
In 1787, Elizabeth Richards was given a jacket, skirt, petticoat, handkerchief and wood shoes, and in 1788, Catherine Davies was given two new blankets, a bet gown [sic?], petticoat and smok [smock] and Lettice Richard was given a flannel shift.
Evans, G.E., (1903), Cardiganshire…p. 101, quoting the Book of Caron

1790 [Wales]
In the more distant parts of Wales … the dress of the women being generally a coarse brown flannel jacket and an ordinary black beaver hat.
Nicholson, Francis, The diary of Frances (Fanny) Nicholson, NLW MS15190C

1791
The common people in the large towns deviate widely from their primitive simplicity, and imitate, in a very slovenly and awkward manner, the English mode. But the hereditary dress of the Welsh women is one of the most commodious, comfortable, and simple, that I ever saw adopted by any set of people whatsoever. For its being universal among them I will not pretend to account. It consists of a garter-blue cloth jacket and petticoat, and a black beaver hat. In some districts they wear brown jackets instead of blue; but they are all made in the same form. The petticoat is rather short, and hangs round. The jacket is round also, and the flaps are about a quarter of a yard long. Young people wear them shorter, and edge them with binding of different colours, generally pink; this gives them a very smart appearance. They have a narrow cuff, turned up above the elbow, which is edged also. They use no buttons, but tie on their jackets with worsted bindings, of the same colour as their trimmings.
Morgan, Mrs, A Tour to Milford Haven, in the Year 1791, (London, 1795), p. 273

1791 Brecon
The women are uniformly dressed in woollen or stuff Jackets and Coats, a check handkerchief and felt hat, many without shoes or stockings.
Ward, Sophia, Tour Through South Wales 23.10.1791 – 12.10.1791, NLW 19758A

1791 [Aberystwyth??]
[The blind harper] was led in by the waiter, dressed after the style of her country women, in a coarse woollen gown, and a hat of black beaver.
Clarke, Edward Daniel, (1769-1822), A Tour through the South of England, Wales and Part of Ireland, made during the Summer of 1791 (London: Minerva Press. 1793) p. 257-8

1795
Mary Thomas, spinster of Guilsfield, Montgomery was accused of breaking and entering prosecutor’s house and stealing wearing apparel, a bedgown and a waistcoat.
12 November 1795. She was found guilty and was condemned to 1 year imprisonment in the House of Correction.
Court of Great Sessions, File number: 4/195/7

1795 [Cardiganshire]
The dress of the women … consists of a striped flannel petticoat and a long brown jacket over it,
Sarah Wilmot, NMW 179554 (Journal of Sarah Wilmot, 1793-1810)

1796 [north Wales]
The women … and the men wear a sort of woollen stuff made at home, that looks something like the plaids they [sic] in Scotland only that here they are not loose, but made into waistcoats, bedgowns etc.
Anon, NLW MS 4489

 1797 [Caernarfon]
The introduction of travellers and riches has made an odd jumble in the dress of the middling class of women at Caernarvon. They mingle the cotton manufacturers of Manchester with their own wool, and often hold up a gown with all the colours of the rainbow to display a striped woollen petticoat. The poor women are invariably clad in a woollen bedgown and petticoat.
Hutton, Catherine, Letters written during a Tour in North Wales by Miss Hutton, of Bennett’s Hill, near Birmingham LETTER XI, Caernarvon; Sept. 13. For publication in the Monthly Magazine, 1816, and Hutton Beale, Catherine, Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the last century; letters of Catherine Hutton (Birmingham, 1891), p. 125

 1797 [Cerrigydrudion]
… not a female in a gown of distant manufacture, except one dirty creature, who seemed to be the refuse of another country.
Hutton, Catherine, Letters written during a Tour in North Wales by Miss Hutton, of Bennett’s Hill, near Birmingham, LETTER X, Caernarfon; Aug. 27, published in the Monthly Magazine, 1816

 (1797) [Pembrokeshire]
It is in this part of Wales that the women dress their heads in a peculiar manner; they wear a cumbrous gown of dark blue cloth, even in the midst of summer; instead of a cap, a large handkerchief is wrapt over their heads, and tied under the chin: in other places, the women as well as the men wear large hats with broad brims, often flapping over their shoulders.
Pratt, Samuel Jackson, (1749-1814), Gleanings through Wales, Holland and Westphalia : with views of peace and war at home and abroad : To which is added Humanity; or The rights of nature. A poem, revised and corrected. (London, 1797-1799), 3 vols, 3rd edition, p. 113-114 [The wording of this is similar to Wyndham (A Gentleman’s Tour through Monmouthshire and Wales)].

1797 [Llangollen to Llanymynach, Pembrokeshire]
The dress of the Welsh women is exactly similar throughout the principality, … a kind of bed-gown with loose sleeves, of the same stuff, but generally of a brown colour.
Warner, Richard, Rev (1763-1857), A Walk through Wales in Aug, 1797, letter 12, pp. 183-184

 1798 Merioneth
The dress and manners of the inhabitants (we were now in the wilds of Merioneth), were calculated to furnish us with a sight of human nature in almost its rudest state. The covering of the females, males we saw none, was a coarse lindsey [linsey] bed-gown, scarcely cut in any shape. p. 53
… and the modern, like the ancient Briton, is not very attentive to food or clothing. The latter consists of a flannel jacket and breeches for men : and a lindsey [linsey] jacket and petticoat, with a round felt hat for the women
Evans, John, Rev., (1768-1812), A tour through part of North Wales, in the year 1798, and at other times : principally undertaken with a view to botanical researches in that Alpine country: interspersed with observations on its scenery, agriculture, manufactures, customs, history, and antiquities. (London, 1800) 2nd edition, 1802; 3rd edition, 1804

1799, Denbigh
John Williams, labourer was accused of the theft of a bedgown drying on the gate of the churchyard at Nantglyn, Denbigh, 15 February 1799 and was found not guilty.
Court of Great Sessions, File number: 4/65/5

 1799 [Cardiganshire]
The women throughout the northern part of Cardiganshire were dressed in blue jackets, with petticoats of the same colour; and sometimes the addition of a blue rug over the shoulders. About the middle of the county, their appearance began to vary.
Lipscomb, G., Journey into South Wales … in the year 1799 (London, 1802), p. 168

 1799 [north Wales]
‘At Llanbeblae, [Llanbeblig] the parish church of Caernarfon I saw a sailor married to the daughter of a shoemaker … The town ladies were clad, not like the mountaineers, in woollen, but in printed cotton gowns, white petticoats and white stockings; but they retained the beaver hat and, as the morning was cloudy, the blue cloak which nothing but the hottest sunshine, and sometimes not even that, could persuade them to lay aside.’
Letters written during a Third Tour in North Wales by Miss Hutton, of Bennett’s Hill, near Birmingham, Letter XIV, Caernarfon, September 14th, 1799, Monthly Magazine, 1816,

(1801) Taff’s Well, Cardiff
Girl about 16, supported on one side by a crutch and the other by a venerable female friend; the girl was attired as is usual in this part of the principality in a little beaver hat similar to those worn by men, a neat plaited mob cap was tied under her chin and over a blue jacket a whittle was substituted for a cloak and thrown gracefully over her shoulders.
Manby, George William, (1765-1854) An historic and picturesque guide from Clifton, through the counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan, and Brecknock, (Bristol, 1802), p. 171

 1802 Lampeter
Domestic Manufacturers ‘Homespun cloth generally greys, flannels mostly yd [yard] wide, stockings [?] for England [;] yd wide cloths some sold to Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire. No Mantua makers, women’s gowns, cloaks etc made by Taylors …
Walter Davies, diary, NLW MS 1760A f. 3/1 (rev)

 1802
They also make great quantities of linsey-woolsey of different patterns, which they call stuff, for women’s gowns etc.
Williams, William, (1738-1817), Observations on the Snowdon Mountains with some account of the customs and manners of the inhabitants, (1802), pp. 25-26

 1802, Bangor
Nothing can be more droll than to see a number of Welch people on such occasions whose utmost finery never exceeded a bed-gown of lindsey wolsey of a deeper blue than ordinary …
Mary Anne Eade, National Library of Wales, MS22190B

 1803 [south Wales]
In describing a farming party, Barber describes ‘A lusty wench … clothed in a brown jerkin and petticoat, but with her lower extremities uncovered’. He assumed that she was with her mistress whose ‘superior condition was evident, in her dark blue worsted stockings, ponderous shoes and small brass buckles.’ pp. 40-1
The dress of the Welch woman, however, is not calculated to set off their persons; a close mob cap has little grace, especially when surmounted with a round felt hat, and their very long waists and brown or plaid cloth jackets and petticoats, but render the rotundity of their foundations more unpicturesque. p. 74
Barber, J.T., (1774-1841), Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, Comprehending a General Survey of the Picturesque Scenery, Remains of Antiquity, Historical Events, Peculiar Manners, and Commercial Situations of That Interesting Portion of the British Empire. (1803)

 1803 [Gower]
The dress of the female in Gower is a short jacket and petticoat, with a straw hat, and a piece of coarse red cloth, …
[Pembrokeshire]
The Flemmings … appear determined to exhibit their different origin in their mode of dress. That of the women in the Welsh [north] part is a jacket and petticoat of checked worsted, or lindsey wolsey stuff, … while that of the women of this part of Pembrokeshire [the south] is a thick, heavy cloth gown and petticoat, with a hood hanging from it behind, generally of a dark colour, p. 257
Evans, John, B.A., 1768-1812 (Jesus College, Oxford)
Letters written during a tour through South Wales, in the year 1803, and at other times : containing views of the history, antiquities, and customs of that part of the principality; and interspersed with observations on its scenery, agriculture, botany, mineralogy, trade and manufactures. (C. & R. Baldwin, London, 1804)

1803
The road from this place [Scolton? Pembrokeshire], the whole way to Haverfordwest, was lined with little parties. The women’s attire is singular; it consists of a short jacket and petticoat entirely of brown woollen, like a riding habit, a close cap and long lappets, with a man’s beaver hat.
Malkin, B.H., Scenery, Antiquities and Biography of South Wales, from materials collected during two excursions in the year 1803. (London 1804), p. 482

1805, Breconshire
… the dress of the women formerly consisted of a brown or blue jacket, check handkerchief and apron, man’s hat and flannel petticoat.
Jones, Theophilus, The History of Brecknock, (1805), pp. 282-284

1807
Sarah Owen, late of Llangefni, for stealing one mixed coloured stuff bedgown, valued at two shillings, one mixed coloured stuff apron, valued at six pence and one pair of blue woollen stockings valued at one shilling, the property of Elinor Williams … Anglesey Quarter Sessions, 21.5.1807 (Huw Roberts)

 1807 [Breconshire]
The women, particularly the elder, wear loose gowns of cloth with striped or plaided flannel petticoats and checked aprons.
A.M. Cuyler, Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Piecefield, Raglan etc by A.M.Cuyler 1807, NLW add MS 784a, p. 167-168

1808 near Myfod
‘A hospitable dame [Mrs Jones of Maen] furnished me with a gown and shawl whilst my habit was drying; and though in the neatest order, apologised for their not being better. … A petticoat of blue flannel and a short bedgown complete their costume.
Anon, ‘Sketches in Wales during the summer of 1808’ NLW MS 14537, p. 27

 1817 [Aberystwyth?]
… by her side a fat Welsh woman dressed in a grey stuff gown, a large shawl, and a long thick blue cloth coat.
Fisher, Paul Hawkins, A Three weeks tour into Wales in the year 1817 (Stroud, 1818), p. 19

1819 [Neath / Merthyr Tydfil]
The contrast between this and the English towns we had been used to was very striking; not a word of our own language could be heard, everything was Welch; the dress was different, all the women wore round hats the same as men, a sort of bedgown with loose sleeves and a dark or striped flannel petticoat, mostly without shoes or stockings. (p. 35)
[on the road from New Inn to Tenby]
The dress differed in some respects from what we had seen before: the jacket or gown was of a plain uniform colour, generally brown or some other dark colour with long skirts made to fit close to the body over a blue or striped petticoat; p. 63
Sandys, William, (1792-1874), Sandys, Sampson, (1797-1880) (brothers) ‘A Walk through South Wales in Oct. 1819’, Cwrtmawr MS 393C

1824, Llangystennin, Caernarfonshire
Items stolen by Charlotte Davies included:
1 Stuff bedgown 1s 0d; 1woollen bedgown 6d. Is Od, 1 Stuff gown 10s. Od.
Court of Great Sessions, 4/282/2, 2nd July, 1824. Quoted in Deirdre Beddoe, Welsh Convict Women: A Study of Women Transported from Wales to Australia, Barry, 1979, p. 60

1826 Llangollen
Scarcely any but the old women in Llangollen wear the round hat, but the coloured petticoat & short jacket, with the long blue cloak are generally worn.
Lady Crewe, National Library of Wales, NLW 21746 B

1826 [Carmarthenshire]
Women uniformly dress alike, viz., men’s hats over their white caps, blue or black and red gowns with short sleeves with linen arm covers, dark blue stockings and cloth habits or cloaks of a dark colour.
Masleni, Thomas John, Sketch of a Tour of Scenery in Wales, 1826, NLW Mss 65a, p. 49

 1827 [Neath]
The women carry on their heads, their mob caps white and not tyed under the chin- round beavor [sic] hats – bare footed but pretty featured, dark eyes … and wear bed gowns of wool and cotton manufacture.
The common people’s gowns are 4/6d a yd. but a smart country girls’ gown will cost her thirty shillings but perhaps has a little silk wove into it. But then it is so substantial that it will last her 6 yrs
Mrs Judith Beecroft and her daughter Miss Laura Beecroft. Travel around Wales during June and July, 1827. Cardiff Central Library, 2.325. Part published in Williams, H., Stage Coaches in Wales, (Barry, 1977), 96,

 1828
the Glamorganshire lass, in stockings cut off at the ankle, and without shoes; and, although a handsome brunette with fine black eyes, dressed in a slammakin [untidy loose gown] check wrapper of cotton and wool, utterly shapeless, and tied about the middle like a wheat-sheaf, or a faggot of wood : possessing, however, the peculiar conveniences that it could be put on in an instant, without the loss of time in dressing tastefully, and that it would fit every body alike, as it is neither a gown nor a bedgown, but between both, and without a waist.
There would you see the young woman of Breconshire, … Her long linsey gown is pinned up behind, each extreme corner being joined together in the centre, and confined a few inches below her waste;
Then comes the stout Carmarthenshire lass with her thick bedgown and petticoat of a flaring brick-dust red,
T. J. Llewelyn Prichard, The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shôn Catti; Descriptive of Life in Wales: Enterspersed with Poems.  Aberystwyth : printed for the author, by John Cox, 1828, pp. 45-49. (2nd edition 1839; 3rd edition 1873)

 1830 Llanberis
The guide to Llanberis pass told Anne Rushout that ‘the whole of the clothing of the Welsh woman was of flannel and their gowns cost on average 13 shillings a piece.’
Rushout, Anne, Hon (1768-1849), [Tour of Wales, 1830], University of London (Senate House Library) MS682/3

1833 Bangor
Ladies attending Bangor fair this morning, and in particular elderly ladies, wear their garments neither long nor short in the waist, the length of the waist being exactly half the distance betwixt the neck and the heel. A superb mantean, called a coverslut, is worn by most married ladies when in walking costume. The coverslut is generally of rough spun woollen material, and of a muddy colour called kide dirt. … Young ladies generally dispense with the coverslut. Some indeed go so far in the way of simplicity as to promenade in a bedgown and black stuff or check or strip linsey woolsey petticoat. The bedgown is of white or printed calico, the sleeves tucked up to the shoulder, so as to display the rouge naturelle of the arm in all its beauty; two pieces of broad tape are fastened at the back, but never tied round the waist, being allowed to hang down as an ornament, the bedgown being fastened over the bust with two or three pins.
North Wales Chronicle, 25.6.1833

1833 Caenarfonshire
The manufactures and commerce of Carnarvonshire are various, … They also make great quantities of striped linsey-woolsey, of different patterns, which they call stuff, and which is used for the women’s gowns.
Lewis, Samuel, Topographical Dictionary of Wales, 1833, ‘Cardiganshire’ Part of this is based on Williams, William, (1738-1817), Observations on the Snowdon Mountains.

1833 [Clwyd?]
A plainer kind of handkerchief or common shawl and a printed cotton gown with an apron – While the old women sported a narrow rim with crown tapering to the top, generally felt – a cotton handkerchief supplied the place of a cap being drawn close under the chin and over the ears; another kerchief covered the shoulders and the apron and gown adopted as with the preceding, But very frequently a hooded cloak either red or blue, concealed the whole. (pp. 108-110)
I was overtaken by a lass [on horseback] who attracted my attention by slackening pace directly she had passed. She was dressed in the usual manner of the Welsh, with a handsome new broad brimmed beaver and frilled cap. Pink striped frock and light apron, her sleeves were short and full and the frock, tucked up or drawn thro’ the pocket hole a la washer woman, … her garb thus simple was well made, hung about her gracefully, her gait was good and her shape perfectly unexceptional. (p. 144)
Letts, Thomas, Journal of Tour, NLW MS 22340B

 1834
In her essay, Augusta Hall [Lady Llanover] refers to the ‘warm woollen gown’ (and doesn’t use the word bedgown or any of its derivatives).

 1834
What is called in Dyfed ‘pais a gŵn bach a petticoat and bedgown, forms a peculiarity in the Welsh female dress. In Flintshire, and the parts of Wales bordering upon England, these garments are made entirely from a mixture of flax or cotton and wool, called linsey Woolsey. But as we ascend the mountains something warmer is necessary to defend against the cold of winter and the sudden rains of summer. The material here is a thick flannel, nearly as thick as cloth, and striped alternately dark and dark red. In the upper parts of Cardiganshire, and in all the most mountainous districts, the skirts of the gown are made to descend almost to the ankle. In Dyfed, they are cut in an oval form, and very short, so as to appear like a man’s jacket. The skirt of the petticoat is generally hemmed with scarlet tape, which in the vale of the Teifi is called ‘cadys coch’. The sleeves are turned up above the elbow and from the elbow to the wrist loose sleeves of cotton, with a running string at each end, are generally worn.
The Rev John Blackwell, (Alun, 1797 – 1840), curate of Holywell and Rector of Manordeifi (Pembrokeshire), On the Advantages Resulting from the Preservation of the Welsh Language and the National Costumes of Wales.’
This was published in English, as a translation form the Welsh in Beauties of Alun; being the Literary Remains, in Welsh and English, of the late The Rev John Blackwell, B.A., Ruthin and London, 1851, edited by G. Edwards (Gutyn Padarn), pp. 253-266 which states thatThis essay was intended for the Cardiff Eisteddfod, [1834] but sent in too late for the adjudication.’
The English translation was also published in The Cambrian Journal, (Cambrian Institute), Tenby, 1861, pp. 26-38, in which it was prefaced by the following: ‘We reprint the following essay by the late eminent Bard and Scholar, Blackwell ; especially as it furnishes valuable information on a subject that is engaging a good deal of the public attention just now, that is, the National Costume of the Welsh.
Its publication in 1861 may have been a response to questions about Welsh costume published in the Cambrian Journal for 1858, pp. 366-367 (see below). The location of the Welsh version, if it was ever published, is unknown.

1836
The dress of the females is unbecoming, except the hat: – they are habited much now as they have always been; and it is astonishing that they should have retained the identity of past ages to so late a period, almost unchanged.
They wear the pais or petticoat, even as it is represented on the most antique coins and medals: and over that, a short gwn … gathered in at the waist, with short sleeves; or if long, usually turned up at the elbow. … The moderns in some instances seem to have doffed the gwn, content only with the pais: it is made of flannel, as they call it; of a dark brown or puce colour, variegated in south Wales by lighter stripes, intersecting each other at right angles, checquerwise; but in the north, these stripes run only parallel to one another from top to bottom … Light and dark red seem to have endured thro’ centuries, and maintained their places till today, for it is in these colours that their flannels are principally dyed.
Anon (Pedestres), A Pedestrian Tour of Thirteen Hundred and Forty Seven Miles through Wales and England (1836), vol. 1 p. 282-284 [The chapter on costume was inserted between chapters about his visit to Devil’s Bridge. His use of the terms pais and gwn reflect his attempts to learn Welsh – he carried a dictionary, phrase book and a grammar.]

(1836) [Derived from earlier sources]
The common dress of the females in South Wales consists of a jacket, made tight to the shape, and a petticoat of dark brown or striped linsey-woolsey, bound with different colours. Young women wear mob-caps, pinned under the chin, and small round felt, or beaver hats, like the men.
Charles Augustus Goodrich, The Universal Traveller: Designed to Introduce Readers at Home to an acquaintance with the Arts, Customs and Manners of the Principal Modern Nations of the Globe, … derived from the researches of recent Travellers, 2nd edition, 1836, p. 227 (subsequent editions: 1838, 1842, 1843, 1845); repeated in Blake, A View of the World, 1841, p. 86

1836 quarter ending 13.11.1836
To Ann Jones, Pale, towards bedgown 7/-
NLW Minor Deposits 1501B, Vestry book of Llanbadarn Odwyn, 1828-90

1836 Maesteg
In this place, as well as at Aberafon there is a shop for the convenience of those who belong to the works. Here the women buy their neat woollen gowns, the peculiar manufacture of the country …
Williams, Esther, Diary, 1836, Cardiff Central Library, MS1.521, ‘Saturday’

1837 Llandovery
Large town, fair day, our broad street full of people, women all in hats & caps with full borders, linsey bed gowns, striped petticoats & aprons all different colours the latter generally plaid.
Aberavon dirty village, children without shoes and stockings, women with hats & linsey gowns.
Louise Charlotte Kenyon, Shropshire Records and Archive Centre, 549/285

1837, Eglwyswrw
The women wear as in other parts of Pembrokeshire the Flemish jacket & black hat.
Louise Charlotte Kenyon, Shropshire Records and Archive Centre, 549/285

1837 [Monmouthshire]
Augusta Charlotte Hall, then thirteen years of age, ‘looked very nicely in a checked jacket and petticoat of silk in imitation of Welsh colours, with an apron to match’, and Augusta herself was, of course, in Welsh costume, with a superb diamond leek in her black silk hat.’
Lady Greenly, 1837 quoted by Maxwell Fraser, NLW Journal vol. XIII, p. 219.

1837 [?]
The other parts of their dress are singular and characteristic consisting of a flannel gown with loose sleeves tied up at the waist and a handkerchief thrown over the shoulders.’
Horace, Francis, Journal of a tour 1837, NLW MSS 11596-7B, p. 197

1840s Killay, near Swansea
[We] stopped to blacken our faces and put on our women’s dresses … We certainly were a queer-looking lot of women with black faces, beards and whiskers peeping out under our white caps. We did not much like the dresses, and felt extremely thankful that we were not obliged always to wear such uncomfortable costumes. I remember I thought the Welsh flannel bedgown I had on was the most disagreeable garment I had ever worn in my life.[The woman author speaks as a man playing a woman during the Rebecca Riots]Dillwyn, Amy, The Rebecca Rioter, (1880) (Republished by Hono Ltd, as The Rebecca Rioter: A Story of Killay Life (2001), p. 81

1843 Carmarthenshire
The “Rebaccaites,” or “Beccas,” in the second group, are men disguised in women’s large caps and hats, and having their faces blackened: sometimes they wear a women’s bed-gown, a sheet, or their own coat turned inside out ; the more grotesque, the more complete the disguise.
Illustrated London News 11.11.1843

1843
The body dress consists of what they call a bedgown, or betcown [sic] as it is pronounced, which is a dress made quite plain, entirely open in front (like a gentleman’s dressing gown), with the sleeves a little short of the elbow. A necessary accompaniment to this is an apron, which ties it up around the waist. The bedgown is invariably formed of what they call flannel, which is a stuff formed by a mixture of wool, cotton, and sometimes a little silk. It is often striped black or dark blue, or brown and white, with alternate broad and narrow stripes, or red and black, but more frequently a plaid of several colours, the red and black being wool, the white or blue cotton, and often a narrow yellow stripe of silk, made in plaid patterns of every variety of size and colour. …
In Carmarthenshire a jacket with sleeves is frequently worn by the women, in other respects their dress does not much differ from what I have described.
From ‘The South Wales Farmer: his modes of agriculture, domestic life, customs and character’ written in 1843, published in Alfred Russel Wallace, My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions, London, 1905, vol I, pp. 207-222

1844 [Carmarthenshire]
[An English visitor, Anne Beale, wrote a fictional account, though based on observation, of the purchase of a hat by a young girl from the Llandeilo area of Carmarthenshire.]
Behind, on the same horse, sits a well-looking girl about eighteen, the age at which the Welshwoman mature into prettiness. There is more attention to appearance observable in her costume. Her rounded figure is shrouded by no cloak, but a neat, crimson handkerchief is pinned tightly over her shoulders, and as the loose outer skirt of her gown falls back, it reveals a petticoat of fine material striped with red. p. 69-70
Beale, Anne (1816-1900), The Vale of the Towey ; or Sketches in South Wales (1844), pp. 109, 616, republished as Traits and Stories of the Welsh Peasantry (1849)

1844 Bala
The hats & caps with the nice short bedgowns and Welsh petticoats have such a comfortable pretty effect and we did not meet one woman who appeared in poverty or who was not dressed with neatness.
Elizabeth Rolls, Gwent Record Office, F/P4 57, pp. 5-7

1844 Bangor
The coloured jackets, worn by girls, are generally of pink cotton, and are clean and gay looking, but ill-made, and wanting the neatness which always distinguishes the French peasants’ costume in all parts of the kingdom.
Costello, L.S., (Louisa) Falls, Lakes and Mountains of North Wales, (1845), p. 96-98

[1847]
Nancy in her cloth coat and jacket, her head and face buried in handkerchiefs, under a large beaver hat. p. 59
Amy Lane (of Clifton), Sketches of Wales and the Welsh, (1847)

1848 Aberystwyth
The women, for the most part cleanly dressed, with their wares either upon stalls, behind which they sit, or in a basket over their arms, are clad in woollen or cotton gowns with their black worsted stockings drawn up tightly and evenly
S.S.S. (possibly Sophia S Simpson) Notes on a Tour Through Wales in 1848 published in ‘The Visitor or Monthly Instructor’, 1848 (Williams, M., (1951-2), National Library of Wales Journal, vol. VII p. 78-80)

Wales, 1850s
… a buxom damsel in a plaid bedgown, as they call them in that country, a smart silk kerchief tightly pinned over her shoulders, and a jaunty black hat stuck on her head, beneath the edge of which I saw nothing noticeable but black hair, shining black eyes and white teeth.
Aikin, Berkeley, The Dean or Popular Preacher, A Tale, (London, 1859), vol 3, p. 10

1849-1851 Swansea
I there saw women, dressed in the linsey-woollen garments of the country, loading … barrows. I questioned one of these women. She wore a red and white Welsh plaid woollen gown, gathered up behind, black petticoats, sleeves of blue cotton, a white apron, a neat cap, and jaunty Welsh hat. p. 191
Gorn Mine, near Llanidloes
All were single women whom I saw working the jiggers. They were dressed, some in linsey-woolsey garments, of a cut peculiar to the country with straw hats, others in cotton gowns and bonnets. p. 223-224
Ginswick, J., (1983) Labour and the Poor in England and Wales: Letters to Morning Chronicle, 1849-1851

1853, (novel). [Description of a maid in a Welsh village]
The Square, stout, bustling figure, neat and clean in every respect, but dressed in the peculiar, old fashioned costume of the county, namely a dark-striped linsey-woolsey petticoat, made very short, displaying sturdy legs in woollen stockings beneath; a loose kind of jacket, called there a ‘bedgown’, made of a pink print …
Gaskell, Elizabeth, ‘Ruth’ 1853

1854 [near Sycharth, Bala]
the ancient Welsh female costume, namely, a kind of round half-Spanish hat, long blue woollen kirtle, or gown, a crimson petticoat and white apron, and broad, stout shoes with buckles. (p. 385)
Devil’s Bridge
woman seen ‘wearing a kind of riding habit of blue and a high, conical hat.’
Some way farther on I saw a house on my left, a little way down the side of a deep dingle which was partly overhung with trees, and at the bottom of which a brook murmured. Descending a steep path, I knocked at the door. After a little time it was opened, and two women appeared, one behind the other. The first was about sixty; she was very powerfully made, had stern grey eyes and harsh features, and was dressed in the ancient Welsh female fashion, having a kind of riding-habit of blue and a high conical hat like that of the Tyrol. The other seemed about twenty years younger; she had dark features, was dressed like the other, but had no hat.
Borrow, George, (1860), Wild Wales

1858
It would require more space than we can afford to enter into the minutiae of Welsh female costume, suffice to say that the beaver hat and linsey gown are among its main characteristics.
Anon, The Cambrian Journal, 1858, pp. 365-366

1860 (south Wales)
There are not very many districts where the tourist will not be able to make himself understood except perhaps in the remote and hilly portions of Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire, districts where the red flannel gown and high-peaked hat still form the characteristic dress of the women …
Anon, A handbook for travellers in South Wales and its borders, including the River Wye. John Murray, London, 1860, p. xxvi

(1860s) Ynys Môn
Het fawr uchel (yn gyffredin o silc) a chantal llydan fflat uwch hen gap gwyn
wedi ei startsio, a’i grimpio yn y ffrynt. … Gwisgent ryw fath o own stiff, ac o dano ddwy neu dair o beisiau (ond ni allaf fanylu ymhellach) a mantell ar y cefn yn cyrraedd i lawr rhyw droedfedd  a hanner uwch y llawr. Gwisgent hefyd ar dywydd mawr “hwd” ( wedi ei leinio â satin) dros eu het fawr wrth drafeilio.
W.T., Pan oedd fy Nain yn Ugain Oed, Y Ffordd Gron, Gorffrnnaf, 1932
[(1860s) Anglesey
A large tall hat (most often of silk), with a wide flat brim worn over an old white bonnet, starched, crimped or ‘goffered’ in the front. … They wore some kind of gown of a stiff material and underneath two or three petticoats (but I cannot go into any further detail) and a cloak which reached about two and a half feet from the ground. When traveling in poor weather a large hood (lined with satin) was worn over the large hat.
W.T., When my grandmother was twenty years old, Y Ffordd Gron, July, 1932, translated by Huw Roberts]

1861 [South Wales, going to market]
The dress of the women varies. The national costume, as our readers are aware, is a short sleeved cloth jacket, and the petticoat, which is short and sensible, particularly in rainy weather. But flannel, stuff, and cotton gowns of different shapes are also common; in all cases, however, the checked flannel apron is indispensable,
Hall, Mr and Mrs, The book of South Wales, the Wye, and the coast, (1861), pp. 300-301

25.12.1861 Llanover
Elizabeth Manuel came up about 12 o’clock dressed for the occasion to help me to do the same and very smart we looked in our new flannel gowns that her ladyship [Lady Llanover] gave us (and indeed had given to all in the house). p. 25
14.5.1862 Narberth, Pembrokshire
[on journey home from Tenby] When we came to Narberth there was a very large fair, we could scarcely drive through, all the women were dressed in the real Pembrokeshire dress, jacket and petticoats alike and very tall hats. p. 50
Diary of Margaret Davies, later Margaret Mostyn Jones, servant to Lady Llanover at Llanover. She came from Mostyn, near Holywell, Clwyd. NLW MS 23511A

1862 Anglesey
Grace Parry found guilty of stealing a bedgown was sentenced to eight weeks hard labour in Beaumaris Gaol.
Anglesey Quarter Sessions, 5th May, 1862 (Huw Roberts)

1863
Miss Edith Wynne (Eos Cymru) … eu body n teimlo yn falchach o’i het befar a’i becdwn winsi nog o’r ball-dress ardderchocaf a welodd. … Yr anfantais fwyaf ydyw, fod y sawl sydd yn gwneyd y Welsh costumes a ddefnyddir ar yr esgynlawr yn cyneryd y patrymau oddi wrth wisgoedd y dosbarth isaf o’r hen genedl. Y mae yr ychydig Gymroesau glân sydd yn parhau yn ffyddlawn i’r het a’r becdwn yn Mon, Arfon, Merionedd, a’r Deheubarth, yn bobly lled dlawd ar y cyfan, ac heb chwaeth na moddion I osod allan ac i wneyud chware teg â’r arddull. {and more on costume}
Hughes, John Ceirion, Cant o Ganeuon: … ar Alawon Cymreig, (1863), III, p. 51 – 52

1873 Tenby
The dress of the Welsh women who came to Tenby Market generally consists of a high-crowned hat, a full quilled cap, a linsey plaid petticoat, a brown cloth short-sleeve jacket, woollen sleeves, chequered flannel apron, light coloured flannel neckerchief, black worsted stockings and tied boots …
Mason, R., A guide to the town of Tenby and its neighbourhood.

1877
The gown was of a substantial expensive material, generally with a gold shot, the body neither high nor low, coming well over the shoulders, sloping low to the front; …
The woollen stuff for the gown, petticoat, apron, was, and is now, from 3s to 5s the yard; all wool, no mixture of cotton; not of a wide width.
In Pembrokeshire they wear a short jacket, cut low on the neck, and called “cwta,” which means short; bobtailed; especially applied to a dress. In common language it is called “a cutty”; the skirt of it – if so short a piece is attached, and hangs down from the waist of the jacket, deserves the name of skirt – is cut off short at the sides, just under the arm, and falls lower down behind. It is something like that frill which fell behind from the waist of a lady’s riding-habit which was once fashionable. In this jacket it is in folds; comes almost to a point. A handkerchief of some gay colour, as red, covers the neck, tucked into the top of the jacket; white muslin for holidays. A bright ribbon is put in front where the jacket closes, and also round the sleeve, which is short, just above the elbow. It is composed of woollen of some dark colour or else black; sometimes it has narrow red stripes; the petticoat of some material with red stripes. The whole dress has the name of “Pais gwn bach” in Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire. Pais is jacket; gwn is gown; bach, little. They wear mittens of wash-leather such as I have already described, and a white cap with full frills, and the Welsh black stockings.
Curtis, Mary, The Antiquities of Laugharne, Pendine and their Neighbourhoods. (written in 1877), 2nd edition 1880, chapter 1 part IV, p. 40-44, reprinted Dyfed County Council, 1991

1878 Swansea
‘Almost a sensation was created in Swansea on Saturday August 10th by the appearance in the streets and markets of several young ladies, daughters of some of the principal families dressed in Welsh costume. The dresses were of course made of the very best Welsh flannel, the ‘bedgowns’ and under petticoat being of black and red plaid reaching down to nearly the ankle, with white and black plaid aprons, the corners being pinned back in accordance with true orthodox Welsh peasantry fashion.
Cambrian, 16.8.1878 (editorial); Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard, 16.8.1878; North Wales Express, 23.8.1878 Repeated almost verbatim in Bye-Gones, August 1878, p. 83 (two letters, commenting on this event, published in following editions, also referred to bedgowns.

1878 Swansea
There are probably very few persons of intellectual status that will not agree that a reform in ladies’ dress is imperatively necessary. The absurdly tight-fitting and vulgar costume of the present day not only impedes locomotion, but makes the ladies appear more like Chinese mandarins than English women. It is with pleasure then we find that some of the best families of South Wales are setting a reform in dress, most picturesque, but becoming. Many of the principal families in Swansea are dressed their grown-up daughters in the old Welsh costume. The bodice, the “bedgown,” and petticoat are all made of the best Welsh flannel, the petticoat being looped back in true orthodox fashion. The dress is short, reaching only to the ankle, and white linen cuffs up to the elbow, and the cockle-shell hat, completes the picturesque costume, which is rapidly coming into use in Wales amongst the best families, and giving a much-needed impulse to the Welsh flannel trade.
North Wales Express, 30.8.1878

1881 Merthyr Market
… and a dark stuff gown reaches to her ankles, clearing the ground by some inches …
Sikes, Wirt, (1836-1883), American Consul in Cardiff, 1876-1883, Rambles and Studies in Old South Wales, (1881)

1893 (derivative)
The cockle women look very picturesque in their short gowns of red and black flannel, which are turned up in front and pinned close under the waist at the back. These gowns display neat, short petticoats of Welsh flannel.
In order to see the old Welsh costumes, it is necessary to go to the west of Wales. Very spick and span these women look with their short flannel skirts either of dark red or grey, plain or bob-tailed gown of grey and black or red and black Welsh flannel, V-shaped bodices, hooked – never buttoned- in front, displaying snowy lawn kerchiefs and neat turnovers, the corners of which are securely fastened at the waist by the band of the flannel apron.
Cardiganshire women who are for the most part thick set and short of stature, wear dark blue flannel gowns with red stripes. These are bound round the bottom with solidly-woven red or blue wool caddis [A worsted tape or binding, used for garters], making the gowns, which are somewhat destitute of fit and neatness, heavy and comfortable. These women are always clogged and generally cloaked.
Carmarthenshire women wear thick dresses resembling bed-gowns and petticoats of red brick-coloured flannel, sometimes with a pin mark stripe of black or white.
Breconshire women generally envelope their heads in a kerchief and their long linsey gowns or kirtles
In days gone by the Glamorgan women, who were considered very handsome, did not care so much for dress. They favoured gowns made of material in which cotton and wool were intermixed. These gowns were made like loose wrappers and without waists.
… The tall and glossy beaver hats, the bob-tailed gowns, the clogs and the granny cloaks are doomed.
Marie Trevelyan, Glimpses of Welsh Life and Character (1893), pp 167-170, (based on Prichard, (1824) above)

 1896, Llandyssul (Royal visit)
Welsh Costume for the Princess of Wales
Messrs D Jones and Son, Tailors and Drapers of Penrhiwpal, have finished a complete Welsh costume which is to be presented by Messrs Tyler and Co, Gernoa Mill to the Princess of Wales on the occasion of her approaching visit to the Principality. The cloth, which is the produce of the Gernos looms is a strong, black woollen fabric, with red stripes, of a characteristic Welsh fibre. The costume consists of the orthodox high steeple hat, cap, skirt, apron, and the short frock (gwn bach).
Newspaper cutting in Ceredigion County Library, original source unknown.

WELSH COSTUME FOR THE PRINCESS
The Messrs Tyler of Mount Gernos have manufactured a special cloth at their Maesllyn Mills, with which to make a Welsh costume for the Princess of Wales. The tailors, Messrs D Jones and Sons, Penrhiwpal, are now engaged on the work. In a letter to a friend, the latter say the costume is to be ‘cyflawn, sef pais a gwn bach, cap, hat uchel, ffedog and sleeves. The Messers Tyler will present it to the Princess on the occasion of her forthcoming visit to Wales.
Newspaper cutting in Ceredigion County Library, original source unknown.

1899
HORTICULTURAL SHOW AT PENRICE
The West Gower annual show of cottage, garden, dairy and poultry produce, which was held, by kind permission of Miss Talbot in Penrice Castle on Thursday in last week.
One of the most interesting features of the show was the class in which Mr and Mrs Helme offered prizes for the best flannel dress made of flannel spun and woven in Gower, made up in Gower, and worn by Gower women of any age after fourteen. The conditions expressly stated that preference would be given to the old Gower dress of the coat and bedgown shape, and that materials, make and shape most useful for country wear and farm work would be taken into consideration. The object which the promoters of this competition had in view was the most praiseworthy one of reviving the old Welsh costume, and of supporting the ancient home industries. Mr and Mrs R. Helme have taken a very practical interest in the weaving industry, which, in Gower, has its chief centres in Llangennith and Llanmadoc, the Tanners, of the former village, having been engaged in weaving for more than a century back. Mr Helme found, moreover, that Gower could produce a particular homespun which had formerly been credited to Scotland alone. Mr E. Helme took the matter up and was the means of placing some large orders in the hands of Mr Tanner. This simple but useful and durable homespun is growing in favour, particularly, we learn, in London, where it was only introduced last year by the Home Industries Association. The revival of the old Welsh costume, would also, it is thought, be of incalculable benefit, and those who entered for the competition at Gower readily admitted that the coat and bedgown fashion was the most comfortable fashion to work in. The entries for the competition were not so numerous as they might have been, but it is to be hoped that it will form an increasingly prominent feature of the future Gower shows. The cloth of which the costumes were made was real Gower homespun, and it appeared most comely and serviceable.
Cambrian (Newspaper) 18.8.1899

1899
ROYAL VISIT TO CONWAY.
Miss Myfanwy Lloyd Hughes (daughter of the Deputy-Mayor and Deputy-Constable of the Castle, Alderman Hugh Hughes), who, on the approach of the Duchess, rose and gracefully presented a handsome bouquet, composed of orchids, roses, lilies- of-the-valley, and violets. Her Royal Highness was equally struck and pleased by the appearance of the handsome Welsh damsel, attired as she was in native costume, consisting of a rich lining skirt with embroidered emblems in alternate stripes; and the orthodox “bedgown-apron,” white sleeves, neckerchief, and sugar-loaf silk Welsh hat. Together the Welsh girl and the English Royal Princess presented a striking and beautiful picture, on which the invited guests gazed in admiration, deepened into enthusiasm when the Duchess, after accepting the bouquet, graciously shook hands with Miss Hughes.
Weekly News and Visitors’ Chronicle For Colwyn Bay, 5.5.1899

1911 Cardiganshire
The short petticoat and overskirt (pais-a gŵn-bâch), the frilled mob cap, little check shawl and buckled shoes are still worn by many of the older women. vol V, p. 321
Carmarthenshire
The old Welsh costume, folklore and customs have survived longer in Carmarthenshire than perhaps in any other county of Wales. … the older women often affect the (pais-a gŵn-bâch), the frilled mob-cap, and the small plaid shawl of a previous generation. Vol V,
Hugh Chisholm, The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and general information.

Advertisements