Curator’s Choice – The Boy’s Dresses

Posted: 14th April 2021

Humber Museums Partnership - Curator’s Choice – The Boy’s Dresses

Belonged to a little boy.

Until about the late 1800s, young boys wore gowns or dresses until they were old enough to be breeched. This is when they were put in trousers, or breeches. The reason for this, is that it was easier for a little boy to go to the toilet until he was old enough to deal with the complicated fastenings on his breeches.

In the 1820s, when these dresses date to, boys were breeched when they were about three years old, but it could vary between two years and eight years of age.

Breeching was an important rite of passage in a boy’s life that was usually celebrated with a party. He might go around the local area with his family, showing off his clothes and receiving gifts. This was also the time that his father would start to show more of an interest in raising his son.

These dresses were worn by Rowland Winn, 1st Baron St Oswald.

Rowland Winn

In 1859 Rowland Winn discovered ironstone on his land near Scunthorpe, which resulted in him leading the way in establishing Scunthorpe as a national iron production centre.