An exciting excursion took place earlier this year to the home of one of our most famous and respected gardeners; the late Christopher Lloyd. He was one of six children, and grew up at Great Dixter, in Kent, where his mother Daisy Lloyd started the important garden it has since become. Among the pictures displayed in the house is one of Daisy working in the garden, wearing a sunbonnet . This was in the early 1920’s. The archivist told me there was a box safely stored away, containing not one, but six of her sunbonnets from around that period.
Here is one of them, in the picture above. It is made of sprig-printed cotton fabric, ruched and corded in the traditional manner. The whole family were frequently employed doing needlework (boys too) and many examples of needlepoint and other work exist around the house to this day. It is extremely likely, given the tradition in the family, that Daisy made at least some of these bonnets herself. I think it is safe to say this is a recorded provenance…the first I have been able to find.
There must be others. I would be delighted to hear from anyone with photographs and/or actual examples that I could look at.
NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT .
These were made from patterned cotton fabric and known as ‘Pioneer bonnets’ As you can see, they are completely different from the English ones, having no cording or ruching, or the traditional curtain (bavolet) hanging down the back to protect the neck from the sun.
A little more has come to light regarding the ‘pocketed’bonnets referred to in the first part of ‘sunbonnets’. Terri Jones, (Bittersweet Inc, 1981) refers to them as ‘split bonnets; and Costume Society of America author Rebecca Matheson, in her 2009 piece ‘The Sunbonnet’ says “The Split Bonnet is an American icon in Texas”.
And here below, is another recent find. This is a sort of calash cum sunbonnet, with elements of both.
It is of curious construction, with some of the stiffening going round in circles, and not in hoops. It is very pretty, but unless the strings are tied extremely tightly around the wearer’s head, it is of little use keeping the sun off ! The bavolet also is of a very curious design. Nothing was known about it by the vendor.
Added October 2017.