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The Harriet Pullen christening gown

The Harriet Pullen christening gown


Makers unknown (Cascades Female Factory, Hobart, Tasmania)

textile (cotton)

107 w x 69 h cm

Presented by Margaret Goode and Susan Artlett, Lois Inglis, Belinda Artlett and Erika Inglis, descendants of Harriet Pullen



The christening gown was originally presented to Harriet Pullen in 1828 by convict women at the Cascades Female Factory in South Hobart. Jesse and Harriet Pullen left the Female Factory in 1830, eventually moving to New South Wales in 1840. The gown passed to their daughter also named Harriet (1828–1901), who married James Lambert in Maitland, New South Wales in 1847. It then passed into the keeping of Harriet’s youngest daughter Rosa Lambert (d.1950) and from Rosa to her daughter Winifred Gietz (d.1976). When Winifred died, she passed the gown on to her daughter Margaret Goode, who donated it to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in 2005.


Jesse and Harriet Pullen and their children, Mary Ann and George, arrived in Hobart in 1822. In England, Jesse Pullen had been a blacksmith and had also preached at his local Wesleyan church. The family was welcomed by the local Wesleyan community and Jesse became one of the seven trustees of Hobart’s first Wesleyan Chapel in Melville Street. Six years later Mr and Mrs Pullen were appointed, respectively, Assistant Superintendent and Assistant Matron at the Cascades Female Factory on the southern edge of Hobart, in the shadow of Mount Wellington.

Fro>m the mid-1820s, a large number of women had begun to arrive in Tasmania on convict transports from Britain. The Female Factories were established to accommodate these women and teach them the ‘habits of industry’ in the hope that they might become productive members of society when released. Women were trained in domestic skills and performed traditional women’s work such as laundering and repairing clothes.

Needlework was one of the lighter duties, usually undertaken by women serving lighter sentences and awaiting assignment. This christening gown was made by Female Factory inmates for Harriet Pullen, probably for the birth of her daughter, also Harriet, born in November 1828. The gown is finely decorated at the bodice and hem with broderie anglaise, drawn thread work and decorative stitching.


A handmade christening gown of fine white cotton with a small bodice and a long, full skirt. The bodice has a wide, square neckline and short puff sleeves, both edged with decorative embroidered triangular tabs. Bodice front and sleeves are embroidered with a diagonal pattern of small alternating squares of drawn thread work and embroidered leaf motifs in satin stitch, separated by narrow bands of broderie anglaise. The neck and sleeves are edged with small decorative triangles. The skirt is voluminous and closely gathered at the waist. The lower part is decorated with several bands of decorative work.

Statement of Significance

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery seeks to build a comprehensive representation of Tasmanian colonial decorative arts. This includes items made in Tasmania from 1803 to 1901. The European colonisation of Tasmania, as the British colony of Van Diemen’s Land, began as a penal settlement. Thousands of convicts were transported to the colony, contributing to its establishment and subsequent development. Many of the island’s current inhabitants are their descendants. The history of the convict phenomenon is of particular importance in understanding the development of Tasmania. The Harriet Pullen christening gown is a poignant reminder of the many women who arrived in Tasmania in chains. It is also testament to its maker’s skill and judgment in the field of embroidery.


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Alison Alexander (Ed), The Companion to Tasmanian History, University of Tasmania, Hobart 2005, pp. 31-132

Notes provided by donor

This website was made possible through the generous support of the Gordon Darling Foundation, which provided funds for research, equipment and website design.

© 2009 Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
This page was last modified on : 1 July, 2010