This is the webpage of a group whose aim is to improve the kit and clothes of a UK seventeenth century Civil War reenactment group, using the most up to date references and research. Feel free to comment on any of the subjects raised here and return often as I want to keep the discussion lively and ongoing.

Please look at the extra tabs on the right hand side. The newbie section is the place for basic kit if you're just beginning to reenact the 1640s. Haberdashery has lots of detail about colours, buttons, tapes etc.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Hose or Stockings? You choose!

Hose as worn in the Civil War period were made either by knitting woolen or silk thread or by cutting and sewing fabric. There are records of both kinds being provided to the troops who went to Ireland in 1641 so are probably ok for Civil War purposes.

The knitted varieties vary from quite coarse for common soldiers and peasants to very fine for officers and gentlemen as the smaller the stitch, the longer it takes to make. For a common soldier it should be possible to see individual stitches from a few feet distance. Here's a link to a site with a downloadable pattern should you wish to have a go at making your own. Pattern and image from Chris Laning.

 They should be generally made from natural coloured wool, although there would have been some dyed stockings available too. The style most often pictured has a triangular gusset from the calf to the ankle on the sides which seem to copy the cloth cut version and is long enough to reach above the knee. Expensive, officer class hose could be knitted from silk.

Cloth hose can be made from light wool or linen fabric and are cut to a pattern on the bias of the cloth (diagonally) so that this would give the stocking some stretch. Again pictures show some dyed and some undyed pairs of hose. Both types would be fastened with ties or tapes. This pair was made by Gilly Morley in coarse woollen fabric and dyed with madder.

There is quite a lot of evidence that shows that it was quite common to wear more than one pair of hose. There is no real documentary evidence to suggest why this was so, but it would seem to be a practical idea to give extra protection. Mostly the outer pair seem to be self supporting to at least two thirds of the way up the shin. The second pair could be knitted, cloth or leather, the last kind providing real protection and possibly acting as a poor man’s bucket top boot. In fact there is a pair in Huntingdon Museum attributed to Oliver Cromwell, so not necessarily just for the poor. The main thing to remember should you decide to wear an outer pair is that they must be self supporting and should not under any circumstances be rolled down. This is a modern idea.
Image left from Gambling Scene at an Inn by David Teniers, late 1640, right detail from Un Sculptur dans son Atelier by Abraham Bosse 1642

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