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.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Pointy Hats

I've noticed that some 1640s wood cuts show an odd shaped coif worn by women. The linen headcovering is normal at the front, but very pointy at the back, as is being modelled by the woman here. This picture is obviously a cartoon, the pamphlet from 1642 is basically about the guy on the right with the horns who has been cuckolded by his wife on the left. Perhaps the pointy coif is an echo of the rams horns which is the mark of the cuckold?

This seems to be borne out in this detail from The Coaches Overthrow, a broadside published by John Taylor in 1636. The man in the doorway is being menaced in a similar fashion to the first guy by a strange looking female in a pointed coif, although the person in the first floor window might have something to do with it!

Perhaps it was the badge of an old crone? This woodcut of the prophetess Mother Shipton from 1642 shows another pointy cap, though remember Mother Shipton was contemporary with Henry VIII. This could just be the origin of the pointed witches' hat.

However, this image from 1641, detail from The Sisters of the Scabard's Holiday also shows some "working girls" wearing pointed coifs, so it wasn't the preserve of old women presumably. Whilst this is not obviously a satirical cartoon, the publication was pointing fun at two "Reverent and vertuous matrons" and their views on the new laws that governed their profession. The rest of their clothes look quite authentic in their detail, so it may be reasonably assumed that the shape of these coifs are not exaggerated.

This one, also slightly satirical shows two more coifs with points being worn in reasonable detail.
1646, The Parliament of Women with the Merry Laws by them Newly Enacted.

The real meaning of this style is probably now lost in the mists of time but this image that appeared on a website last year of an embroidered example may probably provide a clue of how these caps were constructed. This came up for sale in late 2011 in H&H auction houses in Carlisle. It is actually a standard shaped coif, but ungathered at the back so that the back of the headdress stands proud in a rear facing point. It does look like one of the coifs in the woodcuts, but who knows? Possibly the ones in the pictures are exaggerated for comedic effect.

No comments:

Post a Comment