Key Stage 3: Textiles

Design a medieval cloak

The 15th century produced a wide range of fashions in clothing. The type of cloth that people could afford reflected their social status. Laws were passed that prohibited successful tradesmen and their wives from wearing clothes that cost as much as their social superiors could afford. Imagine today a law that prohibited you from wearing silk, velvet or leather or wearing clothing of dark red or purple colours.

Knights and nobles would decorate their formal clothing with their family badge and colours.

Artistic impression of a white board on grass
Richard’s personal badge of a white boar.

Fur trimmings were popular: the more costly the fur, the higher the status of the wearer. Richard’s colours were murrey (a shade of red) and blue.

Richard’s Coat of Arms
Drawing of Richard and Anne as King and Queen from the Salisbury Roll, c. 1483–1485.

In this image of King Richard and Queen Anne you can see that she wears a cloak that shows her complicated coat of arms.  On your left are the same lions and fleur de Lys (heraldic lily flowers) as her husband to indicate her marriage to him, but on your right are eight other emblems from both her mother’s and father’s side of the family.

Your task

Design a cloak that could have been used by King Richard or Queen Anne on ceremonial occasions. Use the personal colours of murrey and blue and incorporate one or more personal badges or symbols.

If you have the facilities and material, make your design into a cloak and model it for a photo. Fifteenth century cloaks would be made of wool, chosen for warmth. Wool production from sheep was a major industry in medieval England and provided a large amount of money for landowners and for the king to run the government.