There is plenty of evidence to show that the working women of Wales wore a variety of hats at the end of the 18th century. Most of those made of felt were described by tourists as men’s hats. Illustrations show they included low-crowned, flat-topped hats with broad flat brims, tall hats with narrow, up-turned brims and round-topped hats, rather like a bowler hat. They also wore other sorts of hat,  known as cockle hats, made of straw or chip suitable for carrying pitchers of water or baskets of market goods on their heads.

A brief survey of the hats worn by rural working women in England at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries shows that many didn’t wear hats out of doors, only caps, while others wore low-crowned, broad-brimmed straw hats, bonnets and sun-hats; few are shown wearing men’s hats.

This sections deals with hats worn by rural men and women in Wales. It does not include fashionable women’s hats.


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Over this bulky head-dress handkerchief, summer and winter, in doors and out, they wear a black hat, only distinguishable from the man’s by a ribbon tied round the crown.
Catherine Hutton, Letters written during a Tour in North Wales by Miss Hutton, of Bennett’s Hill, near Birmingham LETTER II Mallwyd, July 27th, 1796