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31 Oct 2018

Armistice Day Dress

2018 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War making this year’s Armistice Day even more poignant. As organisations and individuals across the country prepare to mark this significant occasion we turned, as museums do, to our collection.

During the past four years of commemorations Birmingham Museums has hosted a number of fantastic exhibitions exploring topics such as the role of Muslim Soldiers, local regiments, individual families and local trade.

Our final contribution sees the display of a single object for the first time since it entered the museum’s collection over 30 years ago.

This dress was worn by Muriel Stella Williams as a child on 11 November 1918, Armistice Day. Her father took her to a Birmingham public house where customers filled her skirt with halfpennies and farthings in celebration at the end of war. The dress is decorated with flags, artwork and battle honours connected to the war.

Dress was worn by Muriel Stella Williams, Armistice Day

Muriel's grandfather was a jeweller apprenticed at the age of 14 to a firm in Birmingham, William Follis and Francis William Parston.

We are very fortunate to have an image of Muriel, who must have been around 2 or 3 years old at the time, in the dress. Sadly we know little else about Muriel, who moved away from the Birmingham area, but we would love to find out more if she has any surviving family. Please get in touch!

Muriel Stella Williams as a child on 11 November 1918

Due to the family’s connection with the jewellery trade the dress is now on display at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter for the rest of the year.

Armistice Dress

Join us on Friday 2nd November for a drop-in craft workshop and use this remarkable dress as an inspiration for your own “patchwork” petals to create a poppy.