Christening Robe thumbnail 1
Christening Robe thumbnail 2
+1
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Christening Robe

ca. 1884 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Christening robes tend to survive for sentimental reasons and are still handed down the family. They were usually made of fine white cotton or linen and were often decorated with whitework embroidery. Some, like this one, were overlaid with fine lace.

Ownership & Use
The birth of an infant was a very private event but its christening in church marked its first public appearance and was an occasion to be celebrated. From an early date the church decreed that a child should be baptised in a white garment to signify innocence and purity. By the beginning of the 19th century this was a long, white or cream robe. Often the one dress was used for all the children in the family. This christening robe was made specifically for Lieutenant Colonel H.P.L. Cart de Lafontaine for his christening in 1884. There is, however, evidence that it was reused at a later date.

Design & Designing
The shape of christening robes hardly changed from the beginning of the century to the 1890s. They still resembled fashionable women's dresses of the early 1800s with their low neckline, short sleeves and skirts made of delicate materials. The baby always wore a close-fitting white cap to complement the dress. It might also be carried in a christening cape, mantle or shawl to help keep it warm.

Historical Associations
Royal christenings were very elaborate affairs. The Illustrated London News of 5 December 1874 describes the christening of a grandson of Queen Victoria:

'The infant having been placed in the arms of the Queen and the Archbishop calling upon the sponsors to name the child, the Queen answered "Alfred Alexander William Ernest Albert " and his Grace baptised the child in those names. The infant was attired in a mantle, gown and cap of Honiton lace - being the same dress in which all the Queen's children and those of the Prince and Princess of Wales were christened.'


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Christening Robe
  • Sleeve
  • Sleeve
Materials and Techniques
Lawn, overlaid and trimmed with lace, hand-sewn
Brief Description
Christening robe of lawn with Honiton lace, England, ca. 1884
Physical Description
Christening robe of white lawn with a wide central panel of Honiton lace mounted on satin.



The satin has been removed from the object (not original).
Dimensions
  • Length: 37in
Gallery Label
British Galleries: A christening was an important public occasion for the family and relatives of a child. This traditional robe is decorated with lace made in Honiton, Devon. Lace of this quality was often worn at royal christenings or by children of wealthy families.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Lt. Col. H. P. L. Cart de Lafontaine
Object history
Made for the donor for his christening in 1884
Summary
Object Type
Christening robes tend to survive for sentimental reasons and are still handed down the family. They were usually made of fine white cotton or linen and were often decorated with whitework embroidery. Some, like this one, were overlaid with fine lace.

Ownership & Use
The birth of an infant was a very private event but its christening in church marked its first public appearance and was an occasion to be celebrated. From an early date the church decreed that a child should be baptised in a white garment to signify innocence and purity. By the beginning of the 19th century this was a long, white or cream robe. Often the one dress was used for all the children in the family. This christening robe was made specifically for Lieutenant Colonel H.P.L. Cart de Lafontaine for his christening in 1884. There is, however, evidence that it was reused at a later date.

Design & Designing
The shape of christening robes hardly changed from the beginning of the century to the 1890s. They still resembled fashionable women's dresses of the early 1800s with their low neckline, short sleeves and skirts made of delicate materials. The baby always wore a close-fitting white cap to complement the dress. It might also be carried in a christening cape, mantle or shawl to help keep it warm.

Historical Associations
Royal christenings were very elaborate affairs. The Illustrated London News of 5 December 1874 describes the christening of a grandson of Queen Victoria:

'The infant having been placed in the arms of the Queen and the Archbishop calling upon the sponsors to name the child, the Queen answered "Alfred Alexander William Ernest Albert " and his Grace baptised the child in those names. The infant was attired in a mantle, gown and cap of Honiton lace - being the same dress in which all the Queen's children and those of the Prince and Princess of Wales were christened.'
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.278:1 to 3-1958

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL