On the first Tuesday in November Australia stops, or so it’s said, for the running of the Melbourne Cup, the richest, best attended, and most widely bet-on thoroughbred horse race of the spring season.

The Cup is famous for the glamourous clothes worn by lady spectators, and in 1916, a year when the Cup had been postponed to Saturday because the track was too soft from rain* for a Tuesday start, one of the women in their beautiful outfits was my great-great-grand aunt, Viola de Crespigny (1855-1929).

Five years earlier, in 1911, the Adelaide papers had described the pretty clothes worn by a Miss de Crespigny from Victoria, probably Viola or perhaps her sister Ada (1848-1927), at the Adelaide Cup in South Australia. Like Viola in Melbourne she also favoured brown.

This Miss de Crespigny was presumably visiting her nephew, my great-grandfather Constantine Trent de Crespigny, who at that time lived in Adelaide.

* Perhaps a little like the softened ground around the Somme, a contest for which was being held at this time in France.


CUP DRESSES. (1916, November 16). Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 31. Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article121079943

Five years earlier there was a Miss de Crespigny from Victoria watching the Adelaide Cup. 

THE ADELAIDE CUP. (1911, May 9). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 8. Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5287811