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.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Soldier's Coat

The Soldier's coat as a top layer was generally loose fitting but as many were issued rather than made to fit, this is not a strict historical necessity! They were made of woolen broadcloth and lined with linen or the light wool fabric known in the 1640s as cotton. The colour is optional but should be of an achievable colour using 17th century dyes and appropriate to your role and regiment, remembering that coat colours changed throughout the war and often faded after prolonged wear, sometimes into a completely different colour (see article on coats and uniformity).

Photo on the right from Chris Thomas

The general style is high waisted with a standing collar though there were other varieties and civillian coats were also worn in the ranks at times. It would have closed front sleeve seams though the back seam could be left open for a few inches to provide a turnback. Coats were almost always closed with buttons, closely spaced down the front to run from collar to waist. 10 buttons is a minimum. More could be worn and the coat would be buttoned to the neck. Refer to the buttons article for the correct types for the period. This photo is a nice example of a square cut soldier's coat by Gilly Morley with cloth buttons. Pic from Tom Aldwinckle

In this cartoon about Richard Cromwell, called The Meek Knight, the soldier on the right wears a shapeless soldier's coat of a typical style.

Here is a detail from The Vindication of Christmas. The soldier pictured wears what appears to be a more shaped, perhaps almost civilian style coat. Notice also the nice latchet shoes and the triangular darts in his hose.

There are also several schools of thought as to exactly how the coats were cut. One conjecture is that they were parcelled out to unskilled tailors and a pattern was developed to cater for a low level of skill and equipment that involved a squared off pattern that could be torn from the cloth rather than cut. I guess all kinds of patterns were used, the slightly tailored one being favorite, but the square cut, quick fix pattern has obvious advantages.