A Gentleman’s Cloak

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One of those projects we like appeared in the 1642 Tailor inbox recently. “Hi, I’m looking for a hat similar to the one Shaun Dooley wears in ‘The Gunpowder Plot’ together with a cloak”. Now we don’t do hats, but we can make cloaks. It wasn’t particularly a Jacobean cloak, but a Cromwellian one that our client wanted as it turned out, so we looked at some pictures. The first image above showing Mr Cromwell dismissing the Rump Parliament is a Dutch engraving. He’s wearing a cloak rakishly off the shoulder but what drew our eyes was the buttons. A buttoned cloak? Then we looked at the famous image of Mathew Hopkins, the self-styled Witchfinder-Generall and his cloak has buttons too, big ones. We liked this look as we have lots of thread buttons in stock!

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The Aston accounts of the famous North West based cavalry regiment has records of cloaks made for the troopers. Looking at these it’s also obvious that buttons were part of a soldier’s cloak at least. The inventory states:

Broadcloth: 3 and a half yards

Big buttons: 24

Long button: 1

There is also no indication that these cloaks were not lined and with 24 big buttons they must have buttoned up the front like Cromwell’s and Hopkin’s did. The long button we think is was toggle and used for holding the cloak at the neck when riding. We still don’t know as there are no clear pictures we could find that shed any light on this.

We also looked at this cloak in the V&A. It’s a fill circle of wool, embroidered and lined with a collar and a thing of beauty. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O13922/cloak-unknown/ We didn’t go with the embroidery, but we copied the collar and went for a full circle, just because we could.

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So here are the photos of the finished cloak. It sits nicely on the shoulder because it’s a full circle of heavy wool. It also needed no henning as the wool is heavily felted and will hold a cut edge without fraying. The buttons enable you to secure it against inclement weather, though we are still not sure about why you would button up the collar. It doesn’t really work as a fold down and if it stands up, you can’t see where you are going. We think they were just decoration.Let us know if you know any different!

 

 

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