Putting the gown in ‘Town and Gown’

 

After keenly taking on the survey project, our team set out to begin searching for heritage artefacts around the University. Graduate Women Canterbury, an organisation with nearly 100 years of history associated with the University, became the ideal place for us to start.

GWC is widely known these days for tirelessly coordinating the regalia for all Canterbury, Lincoln and Ara graduates every year.  We paid a visit to Jean Sharfe and her team at GWC earlier this month to examine a number of artefacts in their care.

Jean, who is the author of Players, Protestors and Politicians: A History of the University of Canterbury Students’ Association (Canterbury, 2015), was a fount of knowledge on the history of both the University and its historical artefacts.

She provided us with information about two illustrious academic gowns and several trenchers for the survey, as well as a stock of original University of New Zealand regalia hoods and what looks to be an old regalia storage box.

Pictured is an academic gown thought to have been worn by the University Registrar, sometime prior to 1957, for graduation ceremonies. The gown is a rich olive green with dark red and gold trimming, and it was made for someone rather tall.

A similar black gown, thought to be worn by the Vice-Chancellor for graduation ceremonies, is about ten centimetres shorter.

We are unsure yet, however, whether these gowns were personally made for the Registrar and Vice-Chancellor at the time. Perhaps a study into the height of all Registrars and VCs at Canterbury is next on the cards for our project surveyors!

The University of New Zealand graduate hoods were another point of interest. Within the collection were original bachelor’s degree hoods with a fur trim.

Jean explained that bachelor’s graduates were forced to line up for their ceremonies outside in the cold, and so their hoods were adapted to allow any falling snow to blend in. Master’s graduates, however, could line up under cover.

Jean also revealed that the grey material used for Canterbury graduation hoods today was specifically designed to represent the greywacke stone of the surrounding Canterbury landscape.

The discoveries at Graduate Women Canterbury have been a successful addition to the survey project.

We look forward to venturing out to more Departments over the coming weeks, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to provide any information about heritage artefacts that may be of interest.

Gown image credit: Copyright University of Canterbury
James Logie image credit: courtesy of the Steven Family

Amy Boswell-Hore, collection technician.
Natalie Looyer, collection technician.

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