Academic year is slowly coming to the end and this means the most stressful period of the year on the University. I wanted to post some photo diary from Yesterday talk in Hunterian Art Gallery.
Jennifer Beasley talk about decision making involved in the conservation of a militia jacket. I have the opportunity to look inside a box with jacket normally kept locked in dark storage.
Through military history, the red coloured red jacket has evolved from being the British infantryman’s ordinary uniform to a garment retained only for ceremonial purposes. Its official adoption dates from February 1645, when the Parliament of England passed the New Model of Army ordinance. It was at the Battle of the Dunes in 1658 that British red-coats made their first appearance ‘on a European continental battlefield. It was worn by soldiers of a Protectorship army under the leadership of Sir William Lockhart-Cromwell’s ambassador at Paris. The English name from the battle comes from the major engagement carried out by the red coats. To the amazement of continental observers they stormed sand-dunes 150 feet (46 m) high expelling experienced Spanish soldiers from their summits with musket fire and push of pike. The adoption and continuing use of red by most British/English soldiers after the Restoration (1660) was the result of circumstances rather than policy, including the relative cheapness of red dyes.Red was by no means universal at first, with grey and blue coats also being worn.There is no known basis for the myth that red coats were favoured because they did not show blood stains. Blood does in fact show on red clothing as a black stain.
Prior to 1707 colonels of regiments made their own arrangements for the manufacture of uniforms under their command. This ended when a royal warrant of 16 January 1707 established a Board of General Officers to regulate the clothing of the army. Uniforms supplied were to conform to the “sealed pattern” agreed by the board. Even after the adoption of khaki service dress in 1902, most British infantry and some cavalry regiments continued to wear scarlet tunics on parade and for off-duty “walking out dress”, until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Scarlet tunics ceased to be general issue upon British mobilisation in August 1914. The Brigade of Guards resumed wearing their scarlet full dress in 1920 but for the remainder of the army red coats were only authorised for wear by regimental bands and officers in mess dress or on certain limited social or ceremonial occasions. The reason for not generally reintroducing the distinctive full dress was primarily financial, as the scarlet cloth requires expensive cochineal dye. As late as 1980, consideration was given to the reintroduction of scarlet as a replacement for the dark blue “No. 1 dress” and khaki “No. 2 dress” of the modern British Army,, using cheaper and fadeless chemical dyes instead of cochineal. Surveys of serving soldiers’ opinion showed little support for the idea and it was shelved.
It was a conservation job well done!!!!