Fashion - Order of the Garter Brooch

The 19th century was a time of great change in women's fashion. The century began with high waistlines and straight skirts, and by the 1850s, the style had evolved into a more natural waistline and full skirt. Adelicia Acklen's clothing choices showcase the most fashionable trends from Europe and North America during that time. Follow Belmont Mansion as we embark on a nine part series showcasing the dresses, jewelry, and fashion choices of Adelicia Acklen.

This broach is patterned after the emblem of the Order of the Garter which pictures a garter looped and knotted in a circle. The Order is the highest honor of chivalric service. In Queen Victoria’s reign, membership was awarded based on elections which Victoria rarely held and women besides the Sovereign were not permitted to be members.[1]Adelicia’s possession and frequent use, shown in the worn quality of the broach, exemplifies the fascination, shown in her dress and fashion, with English royalty and the reimagining of medieval chivalry that was prominent in the age of Queen Victoria. Victorians often took their romanticized ideas of history and directly reflected these ideas in their clothing.[2] Though Adelicia certainly had no connection to the Order, this emblem certainly represented the Victorian interest in feudalism and chivalric revival they so often connected to their own society.


[1] Stephanie Trigg, Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 40.

[2] Inga Bryden, “All Dressed Up: Revivalism and the Fashion for Arthur in Victorian Culture,” Arthuriana 21 no. 2 (Summer 2011): 29.

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Belmont Blvd & Acklen Avenue 

Nashville, TN 37212


1900 Belmont Blvd

Nashville, TN 37212


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The architecture of Belmont Mansion makes it one of the most significant homes of 19th century Tennessee.

Sold by the Acklen family in 1887, the house went to a developer who began one of Nashville’s early suburbs.

It was then purchased by two women who in 1890 started a college which evolved into Belmont University. Today the Belmont Mansion Association, which was formed in 1972, owns the collection, runs the museum, and shares this unique story of 19th century Nashville with visitors from far and near.

Photos by Ed Houk