Seven decades in seven days - 1950s

Throughout the week, will will be sharing objects from from the collections we care for from seven decades of Her Majesty the Queen's reign, to mark the Platinum Jubilee. Today, we are stepping back to the 1950s.  

1950s: Coronation Ball Dress

70 years ago, in February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. The coronation wouldn’t take place until June 1953, giving people 16 months to mourn the passing of King George VI and to prepare for the special occasion.

On Coronation Day, more than 27 million people tuned in to watch the Queen being crowned live on TV. Street parties, coronation dinners and balls took place in just about every town.

A lucky few were able to secure tickets to the opulent balls which were organised in prestigious London hotels. What better object to choose from our collection to mark the first decade of the Queen's reign than this coronation ball gown worn on the coronation day to the Grosvenor House Hotel Coronation Ball.

Eager to prepare for the occasion, Mrs Lawrence bought this dress seven months earlier in October 1952 from a shop on The Square in Winchester. The blue and gold dress was then altered around the neckline to make it just right for the special occasion.

It is important to remember that in the early 1950s, Britain was still recovering from the Second World War. Rationing was still in place, towns and cities remained bomb damaged and many were still living in post-war prefabs. The crowning of a young Queen provided the perfect opportunity for Brits to let their hair down, embodying the nations night of freedom and the mood of optimism for the new Elizabethan age.

Learn more about what we are doing at Hampshire Cultural Trust's venues to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

Jubilee | Hampshire Cultural Trust

This article was written by:
Author image

Sam Butcher

Curatorial Assistant who looks after objects and works to make them accessible to the public.
You've successfully subscribed to Culture on Call
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Culture on Call
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.