Saturday, 18 April 2009

Brimmed monmouth caps

A type of hat that you don't see much being worn by reenactors or on figures is the brimmed monmouth cap. This one being worn by Devereux's musketeer Dave was originally mine - I flogged it to him when I left the ECWS - it was made by Kirstie Buckland in 1988 and was based on the one purchased by Peter the Great which is in the Hermitage. Peter bought it while working in the shipyards of the Netherlands in the 1690s I think. One pound in weight it is double thickness knitted and is a seriously itchy garment. There's an example of a brimmed Monmouth being dug up from an American Revolutionary war camp so they were still being worn by some New Englanders in the 1770s.
Knitted headgear has a strong history in the British Isles and their colonies as the woollen industry was of prime importance and the felt hat was slower to catch on than on the continent.
There is a reference to caps probably Monmouth in General Morgan's account of the battle of the Dunes.
Major-general Morgan, seeing the enemy plain in hattalia, said, before the head of the army, ' See! yonder are the gentlemen you have to trade withal.' Upon which the whole brigade of English gave a shout of rejoicing, that made a roaring echo betwixt the sea and the canal. Thereupon, the Marshal Turenne came up, with above an hundred noblemen, to know what was the matter and reason of that great shout. Major-general Morgan told him, ' It was an usual custom of the red-coats, when they saw the enemy, to rejoice.'
Marshal Turenne answered, ' They were men of brave resolution and courage.' After which, Marshal Turenne returning to the head of his army, we put on to our march again. At the second halt, the whole brigade of English gave a shout, and cast up their caps into the air, saying, '
They would have better hats before night.'
I see Kirstie Buckland has a website and is making a Peter the Great pictured and the colonial style one so there's no excuse now is there? She has a great collection of historic knitted caps that might inspire some interest from 17th and 18thc buffs. Recommended

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