Objects of Mystery

After a recent visit to Berrington Hall it seemed appropriate to pick something from Charles Wade’s costume collection as this months object of mystery.


This is what is formally known as a calash. It is a type of bonnet that became very popular in women’s fashion in the 18th Century. The calash takes its name from the calèche, a French carriage with a similar collapsable hood. It’s main purpose was to protect the wearer from bad weather, particularly sun and wind. However as it was collapsible it also prevented any damage to the gigantic hairstyles of the time. The pictured bonnet dates from 1805 and is made from a sable brown glazed cotton and lined with a pink glazed cotton. The pleating is what is known as organ pleats. We know a lot about this particular calash as it came with some information about its owner pre-Mr. Wade.


Calash (C. 1805) worn by Mrs J W Lavender of Evesham. v. Dresden House pamphlet – and Ashton. Dawn of 19th cent. facing p. 275

And just so you can see how large these bonnets got….


Image from georgianindex.net



During the mid 19th Century, the calash fell out of fashion but paved the way for the ‘ugly’. You can see the similarities in construction and how the fashion is now starting to make way for the infamous delicateness of later Victorian trends. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if these are bonnets you would enjoy wearing…!


An ‘ugly’ made from blue silk taffeta, 1848-1870 forms part of the Wade Costume Collection.

 For more information, this blog post from Serena Dyer explains more about the construction of a calash and where there is more information. https://sfcdyer.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/constructing-a-late-eighteenth-century-calash/


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