COLLECTION: Costume Accessories

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Cloak

1770-1780
Origin: England, Caterham, Surrey
25 in. at center back; 39 in. at center front
Wool, silk
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2018-4
Red wool (broadcloth) cloak, bound down the center front, around the hood, and interior neck edge with wide red silk tape. The cloak originally had a closure at the neck, but it is no longer present, only the scars remain from what appears to be ties. The main body of the cloak was cut geometrically as a half circle and the scraps were used to create the extensions down the front. Unless noted the seams are all stoated or joined together with no seam allowances.

The hood is created with a box pleat at center back with radiating knife pleats to each side. The hood is very tall but shallow.

The broadcloth was piece dyed, as a white stripe can be seen along the cut edge of the fabric.


Label:Cloaks throughout the 18th century are typically functional. They help keep the wearer warm and away from the elements. This wool broadcloth cloak combines functionality with fashion. The broadcloth would certainly keep the wearer warm, but the extended long fronts add a bit of style to the garment, seen often in print sources and extant silk cloaks. The hood is very tall and would allow for the fashionable hair styles, but it is very shallow, perhaps making it only for show.
Provenance:Information provided about the provenance of the cloak:

"My mother's name was Patsy Flippance. She lived at 3 Queen's Park Road, Caterham, Surrey at the time she was given the cloak. Her neighbours at no. 4 were two elderly, unmarried sisters, Gertrude and Mary Barnes, who had, as far as I know, lived in the house all their lives. The family had been well to do, and the sisters had travelled widely together, collecting rare plants for their wonderful garden (as a child, I used to peer through a hole in the fence into it- it looked like fairyland to me!) When Gertrude died, Mary, who was by this time very old herself and almost blind, decided it was time to go into a home. My mother spent many hours with her, helping her sort her house. It was a large, elegant, shabby house, full of beautiful, dusty furniture and antiques which had been in the family for generations. One day, they were sorting a chest full of old clothes and my mother discovered a pale blue silk dress with a quilted petticoat, a strange little red felt cloak and some pieces of silk. She had studied costume design so knew immediately that the dress was about 1735 and examined the pieces of silk and realised that they were hand-painted and were probably the same period. She was intrigued by the the cloak with it's distinctive, pleated hood, and felt sure it was about the same date as the dress. She asked Mary where they had come from and she said they had always been in the family and she and Gertrude used to dress up in them when they were children! Knowing my mother was interested in costume, she insisted she should have them. My mother said she would love to keep the cloak and the silk, but didn't feel she could accept the dress as it was obviously valuable. She suggested that Mary might like to donate it to the V&A. So my mother made an appointment and took all three items to show them. They were delighted with the dress, and loved the pieces of painted silk which they said were indeed the same period, but it was the little cloak which really excited them. They told my mother that it was one of the original little red riding hood cloaks and that the strange, uneven hem was as it should be (my mother thought someone had cut it off!) Anyway, she gave them the dress and kept the cloak and pieces of silk for many years and eventually passed them on to me".