What we know as Welsh costume is based on the everyday clothes worn by women in Wales from the 18th century, made from locally produced wool and linen. It consists of a thick, gathered, woollen skirt, a jacket with extra back and side flaps called a bedgown, an apron, a shawl, and a tall black hat worn over a cotton cap with a frilled edge. The hat is the most distinctive part of the Welsh costume. Between 1770s and 1830s there are many reports of the popularity of men’s hats with working Welsh women – ranging from tall brimmed felt hats to bowler hats. The first time the distinctive tall black hat was called a ‘Welsh Hat’ was when Princess Victoria and her mother wore one when visiting Bangor in 1832. They were mainly produced in England until the 1880s although a few survive that were made in Wales. It was common for hats to be handed down from one generation to the next.
The high hat or ‘chimney’ hat like this one appeared around the 1840s. This hat was worn by Annie Jones, wife of Lewis Jones, farmer of Tyddyn y Graig, Tabor, Dolgellau circa 1860.
There is another Welsh hat on display in Gallery 3.