Cannon Hall Museum celebrates 60th birthday in style

25 May 2017

Cannon Hall Museum is celebrating its 60th birthday in style by bringing some of Hollywood’s finest wedding dresses to Yorkshire.

The ‘Tales of the Wedding Dress - from Homemade to World Stage’ exhibition features costume gowns worn by stars including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kiera Knightley, and coincides with the 60th anniversary of the museum -  which opened at the hall on 1 June 1957.

Displayed in rooms that saw the love story of residents Walter and Mary Spencer-Stanhope unfold, it is the first time that the collection of wedding dresses, worn by some of the most famous actresses in the world, will be displayed together in the same place.

Costume wedding dresses worn by stars including Meryl Streep, Kiera Knightley, Gwyneth Paltrow and Helena Bonham-Carter, as well as the gown worn by Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria in the recent ITV series, will all be available to view for free from Friday, 26 May.

The ‘World Stage’ costumes will sit alongside a collection of handmade and homemade wedding dresses, all crafted in Barnsley, which range from a 1930s silk wool gown to a modern-day Wizard of Oz themed ensemble.

Alison Cooper, Exhibitions Officer at Barnsley Museums, curated the exhibition. She said: “Cannon Hall’s history is steeped in love and romance and this exhibition really draws on that heritage. Being able to bring some of these fascinating Hollywood costume dresses together in Barnsley is a fantastic way to mark the 60th birthday of the museum.”

The celebrations continue on Sunday 4 June, with a family day in the grounds. In partnership with volunteer group The Friends of Cannon Hall, the party will feature Morris dancers, a brass band, arts and crafts and a beer tent.

Alison Cooper talks more about the 'Tales of The Wedding Dress - From Homemade To World Stage' exhibtion at Cannon Hall Museum.

Cannon Hall is celebrating more than just its birthday in 2017. Earlier this year, the visitor attraction secured a grant of almost £3m to restore its 70-acre grounds to their former Georgian glory -  thanks to a successful Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme bid.

And June 2017 also marks the first anniversary of the hall’s De Morgan display, which features hand-picked artworks by ceramicist William De Morgan and his artist wife Evelyn Pickering De Morgan. Both had strong links to the Spencer-Stanhopes, the hall's most famous residents. Walter and Mary Spencer-Stanhope married in 1783 and lived together at the hall for over 40 years, bearing 15 children.

The De Morgan collection will be on display until the end of 2020 and Cannon Hall is the only place in the North of England where the pieces can be viewed in all their glory on a lasting basis. 

Phillip Spurr, Service Director of Culture, Housing and Regulation at Barnsley Council, said: “Cannon Hall’s parks and gardens had over 400,000 visitors last year, and summer is the perfect time to enjoy them -  but we want to remind people of the treasures they can find by venturing inside the hall too. We’re really proud of our anniversary year exhibitions, and we’re calling on the people of Barnsley and beyond to make the most of what can be found on their doorstep.”

‘Tales of the Wedding Dress – from Homemade to World Stage’ runs at Cannon Hall Museum until Sunday 3 September. The De Morgan display runs until 2020.

For almost 300 years, Cannon Hall was home to the Spencer-Stanhope family who made their fortunes in the local iron industry. Visitors can still see the portraits of Walter and Mary Spencer-Stanhope, which hang side-by-side in the dining room.

In 1951, Cannon Hall was sold to Barnsley Corporation (now known as Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council), and opened as a museum six years later. The ballroom at the hall was initially built in 1891 for a Spencer-Stanhope wedding, and couples are still able to marry in it today.

For more information about the birthday celebrations and the exhibition, visit

Notes to editor

Attached images show: Alison Cooper, Exhibitions Officer at Barnsley Museums; Cannon Hall; and actress Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria, wearing one of the dresses which will be on display (please credit ITV).

Photo and interview opportunity: Members of the media are invited to photograph or broadcast from the exhibition on Thursday 1st June, 60 years since the museum opened.

The Hollywood wedding dress costumes are on loan from Cosprop, one of the world’s leading costumiers to film, television and theatre.

Cannon Hall Museum also has a wedding license, with couples able to marry in the ballroom, library or deer shelter.

Cannon Hall and its grounds are now part of the Barnsley Museums portfolio, owned and operated by Barnsley Council. The other museums are the Cooper Gallery, Worsbrough Mill, Elsecar Heritage Centre and Experience Barnsley.

Cannon Hall and its grounds are adjacent to the privately-owned Cannon Hall Farm, but are not connected.   

For more information on Cannon Hall, contact Devinia Skirrow on 01226 787 944 or at  

Additional media contact: Mary Ferguson on 01226 766900 or at

This press release was prepared by Capital B Media, a public relations and media training agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. For more information, please visit

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