Thursday, April 10, 2008
"Memorial of the Bonnets" Day at Parramatta
Today I took my completed Roses from the Heart colonial bonnets honouring my "adopted" convicts to the ceremony at St John's Cathedral Parramatta. What a great roll up of people we had, the cathedral was full. It's Heritage Week, Parramatta has a very strong convict history and it is a very worthwhile project. We were honoring the 25,566 convict women transported to Australia in the early days of the colony.
Now a very brief history lesson. Convicts were no longer being sent to America following the War of Independence, and once the hulks (prison ships) moored in the Thames River were full to overflowing, the British government decided to try sending some to Botany Bay where Captain James Cook had discovered suitable land. However, Botany Bay proved to have sandy soil unsuitable for cultivation, so Captain Arthur Phillip, a gentleman farmer at home, sailed north to Port Jackson and Sydney Cove with his First Fleet. A convict settlement was established, and within 6 months another was established at Parramatta where the land was rich and fertile along the banks of the Parramatta River.
I wore my 1820's costume, as would have been worn by an assigned convict of the time.
I was asked to pose for a few photographs on the day, and a friend was kind enough to take this snap of me in front of the boat full of bonnets and notes to the women. You can see by my shiny face we had a very warm day, LOL. Donated rose petals were scattered amongst the bonnets as well. Christina Henri thanked me for dressing up and gave me a long stemmed white rose as I was leaving. Unfortunately, the poor lady had an accident last week, breaking her ankle and so was confined to a wheelchair, but she soldiered on regardless. A real credit to her and all the organisers of the event, very moving and worthwhile. I will certainly be making a few more bonnets before the deadline expires in about 12 months time. For further information, see her site on the side bar under Roses from the Heart.