IT’S seen two centuries, world wars, the advent of the motor car and has been worn by 50 babies.
Is this Wearside’s oldest christening gown?
Six-months-old Jessica Ann McKitten is the latest member of her family to don the traditional gown for their special day.
It was made for her great-great grandfather, William Walt, 111 years ago and has since been passed on from generation to generation.
Jessica’s grandmother, Elizabeth McKitten, who was christened in the gown 58 years ago at West Rainton Church, said: “It was made for my grandfather and has since been worn by all of his children and their children.
“We worked out that approximately 50 family members have worn it.
“It’s a very long, traditional Victorian gown and is like something you would see at Beamish.”
Baby Jessica wore the gown at her christening at Great Lumley Church with parents Catherine and Michael carrying on the proud tradition.
Mum-of-two Elizabeth said: “It’s lovely that Jessica is able to wear the gown. The family is so proud we have this tradition. Many of the people at the christening had worn the gown.
“Despite its age it’s in lovely condition.
“Obviously, the years are telling so we have to keep stitching some of the lace. We only have one family member now called Walt, which is Aunt Ellen Walt, so she keeps the gown.
“It’s kept in a special box so that it doesn’t get discoloured. I was really pleased when Michael asked if Jessica could wear it. When I was getting it ready for the christening I soaked it in water and Glo White and hung it up to dry. I couldn’t rub it or put it in the washing machine. Hopefully it will be used in our family for decades to come.”