#MuseumFromHome – Day 219

Posted by Tenby Museum on Nov 17, 2020 Blog No Comments

Day 219 of our #MuseumFromHome project and today we look at a Welsh hat.

In an article written in 1944 Arthur Leach wrote of this hat, “The high-crowned black hat, a survival from 17th century times, has long passed out of use as an article of ordinary dress…Within living memory it was worn by farmers’ wives and daughters who attended Carmarthen market. The Museum possesses a ‘Welsh hat’ supposed to have been about 200 years old when Mrs Lewis Davies presented it to the museum in 1924. It is said that this hat was worn by Phoebe Absalom, aged 80 years, when the Duke of Edinburgh visited St David’s in 1866 and she was one of a group of women who were photographed at the Cross. “

According to Edward Laws, “a queer high crowned hat with a starched cap underneath” was worn in south Pembrokeshire for some time after 1860. Illustrations for S C Hall’s Book of South Wales show such hats in use at Penally, Manorbier and Pembroke.

In 2006 Michael Freeman, Curator at Cerdegion Museum, undertook a major exhibition of Welsh hats, saying, “The hats are as much a part of Welsh culture as rugby and male voice choirs, but amazingly very little is known about them.” In a blog he wrote on these items, Michael stated:
“One of the very few objects which is unique to Wales is the Welsh hat. It first became popular during the 1830s and soon became and icon of Wales…The Welsh hat is distinctive in having a broad, stiff brim with a tall, flat-topped crown. During the 19th century they were made of linen buckram covered with silk plush – the same materials that were used for men’s top hats. The first time the term ‘Welsh hat’ is known to have been used is when Princess Victoria and her mother visited north Wales in 1832. They both wore a Welsh hat when passing through Bangor ‘in compliment of the fair maids of Cambria’. The evidence from the surviving hats (there are 220 known surviving hats, most of which are in Welsh museums) suggests that there were two main types of Welsh hat with a range of shapes between the two. Most surviving Welsh hats were made in England by Christy’s of London and Stockport, and Carver and Co of Bristol”

If you want to read Michael’s fascinating article in full then visit: