The Survival of the Bristowe Hat

Not many pieces of clothing and accessories survive from the Tudor period. Many of the items people owned were quite expensive and were thus handed down to other family members over time. In addition, the Stuarts sold off a vast number of the Tudor wardrobe as well as Oliver Cromwell for the Commonwealth sale. It wasn’t only sales and repurposing that decided the future of the wardrobe but the Great Fire of 1666 may have destroyed much of it as well.

This piece has been dated to the Tudor period and may be the hat of Henry VIII. It was in the possession at one time of Nicholas Bristowe who had been a courtier of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Bristowe was one of the officials of the Royal Wardrobe and Keeper of the Jewels. Bristowe was at the siege of Boulogne in France in 1544 and supposedly he caught this hat after Henry VIII threw it in the air when the city fell. It stayed in his family ever since.

Image Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces

I came across this story while taking the FutureLearn course, “A History of Royal Fashion”. If you are interested in this free course you can find it here: FutureLearn – A History of Royal Fashion.

How magnificent is this hat to have survived so many centuries? It’s quite amazing. The hat has been tested and confirmed to be from the proper time period, however, we’ll never know for certain if the hat belong to the great Bluff King Hal.

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7 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hello, I may have a small charcoal portrait of a young Elizabeth wearing the Bristow hat of her father. Please let me know. If you would wish to see it. Respectfully, Bryan Williams.

  2. Where is this hat located now? I will be in England in Sept 2023, and since I am a distant relative of Nichols Bristow, I would like to see it.

    • It was donated to Historic Royal Palaces for safe keeping. Thank goodness – now it will be around for centuries longer.

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