Conservation of a 19thC horsehair and straw bonnet


Bonnet decorated with a posy of silk flowers; bonnet constructed from woven and twined bands of horsehair and straw with deep neck frill.

Client brief/role of object

Make safe for long term display and storage in museum.


Poor condition, severely distorted, failed stitching, split brim; mishapen and brittle silk petals and waxy leaves.


Loose particulate soils removed using low powered vacuum suction. Following humidification tratment, petals supported with adhesive overlays of semi-transparent silk. Deformations in bonnet’s main structure lessened by humidification treatment and gentle manipilation of the wire edging the brim and neck frill.

Support form

Bonnet deformations reduced further by mounting on a custom-made suport form which could be used for storage, study and display. Designed to provide overall support, without obscuring the inner parts of the brim.

Condition after treatment

Bonnet and posy less vulnerable; well supported on mount; well protected in storage box.

Storage box

Designed to reduce handling of the bonnet and to prevent the bonnet from touching the sides of the box.

Further Information

The bonnet is on display at Wardown Park Museum.

[TCC 2121]

Additional information on treatment in Tímár-Balázsy,Á. and Eastop, D. 1998. Chemical Principles of Textile Conservation. Oxford:Butterworth-Heinemann, p 362 – 368.


Reproduced courtesy of Museums Luton and the Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton. Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton © 2009

Kate Gill, TCC conservator

Treatment completed 1996