Belmont Church host wedding dresses through teh ages exhibition
Nancy Urwin with her 1945 Wedding dress Picture by: Keith Blundy

A North-East church is to stage an exhibition charting the development of wedding dresses through the ages, including a wartime creation that was worn seven times by seven brides.

The exhibition featuring Nancy Urwin’s dress will be staged at Belmont Church in Durham over the bank holiday weekend May 23-25.

Nancy, now aged 90, was married in Darlington in 1945 after she and her family spent a long time collecting the material, due to wartime shortages.

Her mother made the dress and after the wedding, her husband, who was in the Navy, found himself posted to the Far East, including Singapore and Hiroshima after the atom bomb was dropped. He was away for a year.

Nancy, who was a nurse at the time, said: “I would come off work and go to check if there was any material available for the dress and eventually we managed to get enough. My family donated coupons so we could get the material.  A number of people borrowed the dress. Seven brides have worn that dress.”

The oldest dress in the exhibition, which includes a dress from every 20th Century decade, dates from 1896. Most have been loaned by members of the community, including one from this year. Some dresses were loaned by Beamish museum.

Miranda, Jean and Nancy Urwin with Nancy’s 1945 Wedding dress Picture by: Keith Blundy

Vicar of Belmont and Pittington the Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes said: “We hope the exhibition encourages people to think about having a church wedding, which is such a happy occasion, and there are some fascinating human stories attached to the dresses. Everyone loves a wedding and everyone loves a wedding dress and there are some interesting family stories attached to these dresses.

“We also hope the exhibition encourages people to come in and look at our beautiful church.”

Exhibition curator Jean McGranaghan, a former fashion and textiles lecturer, said: “It has taken a year to put together this exhibition with most of the dresses coming from the community. It is really interesting to see how fashions have changed through the decades. We hope people will like what we have done.”

Sixteen dresses are on show. The exhibition can be viewed between 10-4 on the 23rd and 25th and 12-4 on the Sunday.

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