A flamboyant pink hat with an intriguing Tudor history at Hampton Court Palace
Made of luxurious silver and silk, decorated by an ostrich feather and featuring evenly positioned holes for attaching jewels, this 16th century hat is Hampton Court Palace’s oldest item of clothing by a century.
Having traced links back to Nicholas Bristowe, the king’s Clerk of the Wardrobe during Henry’s reign, according to Bristowe famaily tradition the flamboyant pink bonnet was launched into the air by Henry VIII after the surrender of Boulogne in 1544.
Bristowe caught it and the rest, as they say, is history.
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The Clerk of the Wardrobe also inherited Thomas Cromwell’s clothes following his execution, but there is no proven link between the pink bonnet and the infamous Tudor lawyer and statesman.
Bristowe served Henry’s children, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, as Clerk of the Jewels before retiring to a country estate given to his family by the monarchy.
A parallel theory is that he inherited it from a foreign prisoner at the Tower of London, where he also spent time.
The hat’s “unusual design” may indicate an overseas stitcher, although conjecture about its origins and ownership continued when it went on show following routine conservation in Hampton Court’s 500th anniversary year in 2015.
It is now one of the most significant objects in the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, which is cared for by an expert team of curators and conservators at Hampton Court Palace.
Comprising over 10,000 items of royal and court dress, from stockings belonging to King William III, right up to pieces worn by Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales, the collection offers an unparalleled insight into the story of British monarchy.
Find out more about the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at the HRP website.
Hampton Court Palace
East Molesey, Surrey
Hampton Court Palace was home to some of England's most famous kings and queens from Henry VIII (1509-47), its first royal resident, to George II (1727-60), its last.