Fashionable Yorkshire
This simple yellow dress is in a style known as an open robe. It would have been worn over a quilted petticoat. Not many wool dresses from the 1700s survive as they were less likely to be kept than silk and wool is often damaged by insects. Photo by Norman Taylor
2 mins read

Object of the week- Quaker dresses

An elegant look at a bygone age and a different lifestyle, this simple but stylish dress once belonged to a member of a prominent Yorkshire Quaker family.

One of two similar dresses currently on display in Lotherton’s fabulous Fashionable Yorkshire exhibition, the dress dates from the mid-1700s.

Along with its counterpart, it is believed to have belonged to a member of the Priestman family of Thornton le Dale, near Pickering, North Yorkshire.

The Priestmans were a Quaker family and their religious beliefs meant they led a simpler way of life, which included their appearance and the clothes they wore.

Quakers at the time were known for wearing plain but good quality clothes, avoiding the extravagance and flamboyance of luxury fashion. That meant Quaker women’s dresses followed the basic style of the day but without fancy trimmings and excessive details.

The Priestman dresses are among a stunning selection on display in Lotherton’s fashion galleries, made up of outfits worn by local women over the past 500 years.

The exhibition explores their individual stories, how women’s fashion has evolved through different eras and how the themes of status, religion, the Industrial Revolution, work and freedom have all been expressed through changing trends.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for Leeds Museums and Galleries said:

“Bringing this impressive collection together in the stunning setting of Lotherton’s fashion galleries paints a very clear picture of just how much life has changed for women in Yorkshire over the centuries.

“It’s clear that fashion is something which also gives a real insight into how women from very different backgrounds and eras have chosen to express themselves.”

Fashionable Yorkshire is in the Lotherton fashion galleries until Dec 31. For more details please visit:

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