Museum of London appeals for help identifying WW2 brides who wore same wedding dress

By Rosemary Collins, 16 January 2019 - 9:16am

The Museum of London is appealing for descendants of two of the five brides who wore the dress to get in touch

1938 wedding dress Museum of London
     Betty Marner and Jim Wray's wedding in 1938 (Credit: Museum of London)

The Museum of London is calling on the public to help identify two unknown women who wore the same wedding dress during the Second World War.

Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Amelia Katherine Marner (1914-2000) made the off-white satin gown for her wedding to James ‘Jim’ Albert Wray (1915-1998) on 21 August 1938 at St John the Evangelist church, Palmers Green, London.

She then went on to lend the dress to four other women, who lacked a wedding dress of their own owing to fabric shortages during the Second World War.

Now the Museum of London, which has recently acquired the dress and put it on display in its Collecting for London exhibition, is hoping to discover the identities of two of those brides.

Betty worked at Mount Pleasant post office from the start of the Second World War in September 1939 until the birth of her first child in November 1942.

Twice during that period, she lent the dress to female colleagues for their own weddings.

1930s wedding dress Museum of London
Betty made the off-white satin dress herself (Credit: Museum of London)

In a blog post, Beatrice Behlen, senior curator of fashion and decorative arts at the museum, said she would love to identify these two women.

“Please get in touch if you know who they are!” she wrote.

“Perhaps you recognise this dress from a family photograph, or know that one of your relatives worked in the Post Office and got married during the Second World War?”

Betty’s sister Lillian ‘Lily’ Marner (1923-1979) borrowed the dress when she married Robert George Murray (1920-1994) in Stoke Newington in September 1942.

Finally, Moyra Farr (1922-1990) wore the dress in 1947 when she married Betty’s brother Henry ‘Harry’ Arthur Marner (1916-2001).

Second World War wedding
Lily Marner and Robert Murray's wedding in 1942 (Credit: Museum of London)

The dress features beadwork on the collar and above the hem of the sleeves, done by Betty’s cousin Dorothy May Tombs (1914-1984), pictured above on Betty’s right.

Dorothy was employed as a bead worker at the London couture house of Norman Hartnell, who famously designed both the Queen’s wedding and coronation gowns.

If you think one of your relatives might have worn the dress, you can contact the Museum of London here.

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