Clothing made to be worn in Tindalls Cottage, our newest exhibit building (opened July 2013). Tindalls is a timber-framed cottage originally from Ticehurst, East Sussex, built between 1700 and 1725. The cottage is presented as it might have been around 1760.
The man is wearing a canvas waistcoat with handmade buttons, canvas coat and woollen breeches. His coat was dyed with madder using an iron modifier to produce a dark aubergine colour. He is wearing a battered old pot hat, similar to that worn in the drawing ‘A Wiltshire Peasant’ (c.1810) by James Ward (British Museum, London).
The waistcoat has detachable, tie-on, sleeves in a dark lilac, lined in linen. For a contemporary example see John Joseph Zoffany’s 1772 painting of London optician, John Cuff and his assistant (Royal Collection Trust) .
The breeches are made of a thin and loosely woven plain tabby wool mix, similar to linsey-woolsey (a linen and woollen mix, much worn by rural men and women).
The woman wears a striped linen bed gown. These were easier to wear than formal gowns. They were worn with a neckerchief and with either one pin at the front over a pair of stays or simply wrapped around and held in place by the apron strings. This one has been made with the sleeves cut across the grain of the fabric, so the stripes go the opposite way. The madder-dyed petticoat worn underneath has been roughly quilted over a layer of carded sheep wool. It has a linen lining. A typical bibbed apron was made from a small piece of antique-glazed linen.
The woman is wearing a red woollen cloak. Cloaks like this one were general outdoor garments for rural women in the eighteenth century. In 1748 the Swedish botanist, Pehr Kalm, travelling through England, noted that ‘English women in the country … commonly wear a red cloak’. They continued to be worn into the early nineteenth century. For a contemporary example see the painting by George Morland, Windy Day, c.1790 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge). Blue and white checked linen aprons like this one appear to have been quite popular amongst rural women in the second half of the eighteenth century.
We have good evidence for what the Ticehurst parish poor were wearing at this date because the overseers’ accounts record the cost of clothing pauper children. Around 1760 boys were wearing knitted stockings, linen shirts, breeches, waistcoats and ’round frocks’ (forerunners of the nineteenth-century agricultural labourers’ smocks). Girls wore knitted stockings, linen shifts, stays, petticoats, gowns and cloaks. Whilst the Tindalls were not on parish relief they would have been wearing the same type of clothing, much of it made from locally-produced cloth (there is no evidence that cotton was being worn in Ticehurst at this date). The Ticehurst overseers saved money by clothing their pauper children almost entirely in coarse linen but much of the Tindalls’ outerwear would have been woollen, or a linen-woollen mix.