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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Knitted and felted wool

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery, case 8 []

This cap was discovered in an old house in Worship Street, East London. It is knitted with thick, reddish brown wool in stocking stitch. It has been felted, cut and re-sewn to make two overlapping brims, and blocked into its finished form.

Excavations of late medieval and Renaissance artefacts have revealed a large number of similar caps. They were an important item of everyday clothing and are mentioned in a law called the Cappers Act of 1571. This decreed the type of headgear that every English resident over the age of six and below the rank of 'gentleman' should wear on Sundays and holidays. It specified ā€˜a cap of wool, thickened and dressed in England, made within this realm and only dressed and finished by some of the trade of cappers, upon pain to forfeit for every day of not wearing 3s. 4dā€™. The aim of this Act of Parliament was to protect the trade of cap-making.

Physical description

Felted cap knitted in thick reddish brown wool with two overlapping brims.

Place of Origin

England (made)


16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Knitted and felted wool


Diameter: 10.75 in

Descriptive line

Wool, knitted and fulled, with layered brims, English, 1500s

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Levey, Santina M. Illustrations of the History of Knitting Selected from the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Textile History Volume 1, Number 2, December 1969. Plate IV.

Labels and date

9. CAP
Hand-knitted wool
English, 16th century

This cap was partly knitted to shape, then heavily felted, cut, sewn and blocked. One of the earliest mentions of such a cap is in an Act of 1488 which fixed the price of felted wool hats at 1s.8d and of knitted wool caps at 2s.8d. By the Capper's Act of 1571 it was laid down that everyone over the age of six (excepting 'maids, ladies, gentlewomen, noble personages, and every Lord, Knight, and gentleman of twenty marks land') should wear on Sundays and holidays 'a cap of wool, thicked and dressed in England, made within this realm, and only dressed and finished by some of the trade of cappers, upon pain to forfeit for every day of not wearing 3s 4d.'

1562-1901 []




Knitted; Felting


Hats & headwear; Fashion; Accessories; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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