Chatelaines were a useful form of jewellery, worn when womens clothing had no pockets. They were dangled from the waist, their chains carrying small items. Chatelaines were common in the 18th century but enjoyed revivals at various times during the Victorian era.
This elaborate chatelaine was made especially to be shown at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, where it was described as highly polished and richly cut.
London, about 1850
Made by Joseph Banks Durham
Given by Mrs Gilbert Russell
V&A: M.10:1 to 12-1971
This elaborate chatelaine was made for the Great Exhibition of 1851, the first international exhibition to display manufactured products. Masterminded by Prince Albert, the exhibition was meant to educate the public in art, manufacture and design.
The view shows the transept of the Crystal Palace, an enormous glass structure in Hyde Park where it was held. More than six million people visited the exhibition.
By William Simpson
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Cynical observers suspected that the chatelaines decorative function outweighed (quite literally) any real usefulness.
As a fashion for increasingly elaborate chatelaines swept Britain, cartoonists lampooned ladies who insisted on hanging an assortment of marine stores from their belts.