Anne Welles is my 19th Great Grandmother on my Dad’s side. She is also the Great Great Grandmother of Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England. You would know that we are related if you read my post about tracing my family tree. Although she was wealthy I am unable to find any portraits of her, assuming that they were lost if she had any made. Even though it’s disappointing, it means that we get to try and decipher what she could’ve worn during her lifetime.
Anne married a guy called James Butler who was an Irish nobleman. Anne also comes from a reasonably wealthy family too so she would’ve dressed well for her whole life. She comes from a long lineage of noble people who have been around royalty for a long time.
Anne Welles was born in 1360 in Lincolnshire, England. She married James around 1386 when she was 25. So I want to look into what she would’ve worn on her wedding day. I don’t know the exact date of her wedding but we have a rough idea.
So when we look at medieval wedding dresses we can see that they are very different from the classic ones we see nowadays. Gowns were very rarely white, white was made popular by Queen Victoria who wore the shade at her wedding to Albert. Gowns were often bright and colourful with beautiful embellishment. Reds and blues with gold embellishment were very popular among wealthy women. Anne’s dress would’ve been made from either silk, velvet or satin.
Style-wise, the gown wouldn’t have differed too much from a general evening gown she would’ve worn. As you can see from this picture, the gown would’ve been simple, straight down and bright. Long sleeves were a must. Sometimes the sleeves could be flared and widened. But here the sleeves are fitted. The length of the dress was super long. Most often women had to hold up the front of their dresses just so they could walk. Wedding dresses wouldn’t have been that long, but they were certainly floor length. Her hair would likely have been braided, maybe pinned up to the head. It’s also very likely she would’ve worn something on her head like a hood. Medieval women rarely went without covering their heads.