Child's ornate gold and green dress with train, worn by Cecilia (aka Cecelia / Cicily) Stacey (later Taylor) as the juvenile 'Queen of the Golden Grain' ('Queen of Queens') in 1927, when she was about eight years old. The competition was organised to raise money for St Brigid's Catholic Church, Maldon, located in the parish of Castlemaine, Victoria. Cecilia later recalled that the dress was made for her to wear at her 'coronation' and 'was designed to represent the grain when it was green and then gold as it ripened. It is all hand made by Miss Warwick of High Street, Maldon. It has been greatly treasured.' Cecilia wrote to a friend overseas that they raised £200 and that she was presented with a bouquet, a 'big box of chocolates' and a 'wristlet watch' from Father Donohoe. In later years she often spoke about the active social life of Maldon and of this competition in particular - and how much skilled work was involved in its production.

'Queen' competitions were held in regional Victoria from at least the early 20th century. In 1916 the Bendigo Advertiser announced a 'Queen Competition' at the Bendigo Easter Fair that included a 'Queen of the Anzacs', a 'Queen of the Golden Grain' and a 'Queen of Music' (22 Feb 1916). Queens were also nominated for 'trade unions' and for 'stock and station agents' (26 Feb 1916). Counties in the area could also nominate 'queens'. It was noted that the Queen of the Golden Grain was 'the farmers' queen' (15 March 1916). 'Queen' competitions seem to have been mainly associated with fund-raising activities, as well as providing a significant presence at rural shows and fairs for particular communities and organisations - for example, the 1916 Queen of the Golden Grain in Bendigo had a display of 'two lorries decorated with sheaves of wheat, bound by ribbons of gold and green.' ( 27 April 1916)

Physical Description

Gold-coloured knee-length dress with gold and green lace overlay and long train attached at back shoulders. Train has silver overlay which ends slightly short of underlay, revealing embroidered floral pattern at end. Dress has beaded fringe at slightly dropped waist; short sleeves with lace trim; and round neckline. Rosette at centre waist and on each shoulder, made of gold lace and beads.

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