During the few years immediately before the First World War (1914-1918), support for Welsh nationalism increased. Amongst other factors, this influenced and was influenced by the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon in 1911 and the appointment of Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer who encouraged patriotism in the lead up to the war. Welsh costume were worn by Welsh suffragettes in a march to mark the Coronation of Edward VII and at the investiture a few weeks later, a women’s choir was dressed in uniform Welsh costume.
It was at about this time the first photographs of school girls dressed in Welsh costume on St David’s day were taken. The hats they wore were generally of felt but very little is known of the industry which produced them. The National Museum and National Library were established in 1907 and some museums, such as Bangor, were beginning to collect samples of Welsh costume.
Portrait of the cast of a Welsh play ‘Ealwyd Anghrad’, peformed at the Tabernacl Chapel in Mill Street, Aberystwyth, 1911 . Almost all the women are wearing Welsh hats, and some of them are knitting.(Ceredigion Museum, AY1857)
By the beginning of the First World War groups of middle-class women were wearing Welsh costume to raise funds on flag days.
Welsh mills produced fabric for uniform during the war so traditional fabrics were not as common in the immediate post-war years. (D. Rees Jones and Geraint Jenkins, ‘Rural Industries in Cardiganshire’ in Geraint H Jenkins and Ieuan Gwynedd Jones, Cardiganshire County History, III, p. 153)
Postcard of Shan, Llanllyr, Ceredigion, 1916-1917. She is wearing a tall, almost straight-sided Welsh hat, a check shawl, a short-sleeved bedgown with a small kerchief round her neck and check apron. The back-ground appears to be painted, so was probably taken in a photographer’s studio.(Ceredigion Museum, 1979.106.29)
Welsh flag day at Lampeter in aid of Belgian refugees during World War 1 (May day?). Twelve of the young women and girls are wearing Welsh hats. Most are wearing shawls and striped or check aprons. (Ceredigion Museum, 1991.175.3)