20th century Welsh hats

Welsh hats made during the late-19th and 20th centuries were probably home made, with a few exceptions made by Christys and some made for the Brynmawr dance team (below). They were worn by competitors at eisteddfodau; by women who sang in choirs; by dance teams; by school girls on St David’s day and for competitions and marketing events.

A description of how to make a Welsh hat to be worn at the suffragist’s march in London in 1911 was published in ‘Votes for Women

They were normally made of card and covered in cotton or velvet. Modern children’s hats are made of felt (and probably manufactured in the Far East).

Mrs Coombe-Tennant told John Richard Jones at the Pontypool National Eisteddfod, 1924 that ‘Griffiths of Alexandra Buildings, Swansea will make any shape of Welsh hat (correct in form and texture) for 30s each Perfect Hats.’ (NLW JR Jones collection, vol. 1, p. 68)


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Hat made for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales, Caernarfon, 1911 (Ceredigion Museum, 2007.52.1)

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Hat marked INJ, probably Iris Novello Jones, possibly the daughter of Clara Novello Davies, the leader of the Welsh Ladies choir, Cardiff. Made by Selfridge of London of black cotton on woven straw. Date unknown. (Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth Yesterday collection)

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Hat  made of velvet on card, worn by Ceredwen Morgan (born 1890) of Cardiff, a member of Clara Novello Davies’ choir, mid 20th century. (Ceredigion Mueum 2008.46.1)


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One of a set of hats made of felt by G.A. Dunn and Co., London, for the Brynmawr dance team who performed at many places in Europe during the 1950s. They were all kept in one container. This one belonged to the well-known dancer, Jessie Williams.


Hat probably made for a choir which performed at an Eisteddfod, covered in black silk all over. A number of photographs of Eisteddfod choirs show the performers wearing shiny hats, like this.


Hat covered with velvet for reproduction costume for Cardiganshire, 1981. (Ceredigion Museum, 2008.62.13)

In 1981 each county group of the Women’s Institute in Wales made reproductions of costumes for a National Celebration of Heritage. These were carefully researched and then exhibited at The Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, Llanelwedd, 20-23 July, 1981; The National Eisteddfod, Machynlleth, 1-8 August, 1981 and the Weekend gathering of the Women’s Institutes, Aberystwyth 4-6 September, 1981. Postcards of each costume were published by Judges Ltd and a bilingual booklet about them was published with an article on Welsh costume by Dr Ilid Anthony of the Welsh Folk Museum, St Fagans, Cardiff.