Veil styles of English bonnets in 1480

For a full list of the names of these fair ladies seen below as well as citation, scroll to the bottom.

I’ve cropped a selection of ladies from photographs of brass rubbings for analysis of their veil formations. The veils on some of these images are easy to understand. On others, not at all. Are we seeing a form of veil stylization that can only be explained as the brass incising equivalent of visual shorthand? Or, are we seeing an accurate-but-stylized portrayal of each crease or edge of the veil?

Given that these images come from brass rubbings rather than photographs of the incised brasses themselves, it is hard to know for sure whether the black area extending out from the veiling is to be interpreted as part of the veil or if it is an arbitrary cropping-out of the rubbing marks. Another consideration is that many brasses came from templates and in some cases are nearly identical. One can conclude that brasses do not provide a comprehensive overview of the varieties in veil formation for this style of headdress.

As described in my class notes on An English noble lady’s outfit circa 1480 , I concluded that some of these images portray only one veil, which is shaped like a square or a kite. The veil is turned so that its longest point (or any point, if it is a square) sits at the front of the prong and then extends back over the support wires, draping between them and off their ends, ending in a point. Other images portray both this type of veil and a rectangular veil with a folded-back lappet, which is draped over all else and covers at least some of the forehead. (The second and third images from the left on the top row are good examples.) This veil is called a frontal, and likely represents widowhood, according to a 2011 publication, Illuminating Fashion (see below for bibliographical entry).

The last image could be a straight-on view of one of the styles above it. If so, it lends more information to the puzzle of veil formation.

Alice, wife of John Cudderle, 1475
Margaret, wife of John Weston, 1483
Margaret, wife of Ralph Bawde, 1485
Ann, wife of Thomas Playters, 1479
Unidentified wife, 1480
Elizabeth or Joan, wife of John Cockayne, 1480
Elizabeth, wife of John Fitzgeffrey, 1480
Elizabeth, wife of William Hasylden, 1480
Florence, wife of John Fraunceys, 1485
Margaret, wife of Sir Thomas Peyton, 1484
Elizabeth, wife of Sir William Culpepir, unknown date
Margaret, wife of Sir William Lucy, 1466
Katherine, wife of Henry Barley, 1475
Katherine, wife of Nicholas Deen, 1479
Alice, wife of John Harlston, 1480
Margery, wife of Sir William Clopton, 1480
Katherine, wife of Geoffery Josline, 1470
Ann, wife of Mawrice Whitehede, 1480
Eden, wife of Sir John Barre, 1470
Anne, wife of Ralph St. Leger, 1470
Unknown wife, 1480
Iseult, wife of Thomas Selby, 1479
Unknown lady, 1480
Unknown wife, 1480
Unknown wife, 1480
Isabel, wife of John Coblegh, 1480
Joan, wife of John Cobleigh, 1480
Isabel, wife of Wiliam Cheyne, 1485
Anne, wife of Robert Herward, 1485
Elizabeth, wife of John Seyntmour, 1485
Elizabeth, wife of Sir John Say, 1473
Katherine, wife of John Fastolff, 1478
Margery, wife of Sir William Crofton, 1483

Sources and Data

Buzza, David Thomas, Ph.D. English Female Costume, 1400 to 1485 as Represented on Monumental Brasses and Brass Rubbings (Volumes I and II). University of Minnesota, 1986, 567 pages, AAT 8706914.

van Buren, Anne H and Wieck, Roger S. Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands . The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 2011.

Ladies’ Names and Photo Credits

Unless otherwise noted, the photos of these brass rubbings (or redrawings in a few cases?) come from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Department of Brass Rubbings. The names listed below are in the order of left to right, top to bottom for the images in the grid above.

Alice, wife of John Cudderle, 1475, Hinton St. George, Somersetshire: photocopy from Monumental Brasses in Somerset. Arthur B. Connor. Bath: Kingsmead Reprints, 1970
Margaret, wife of John Weston, 1483, Ockham, Surrey
Margaret, wife of Ralph Bawde, 1485, Little Hadham, Hertfordshire
Ann, wife of Thomas Playters, 1479, Sotterley, Suffolk
civilian, wife of ?, 1480, Little Plumstead, Norfolk
Elizabeth or Joan, wife of John Cockayne, 1480, Hatley Cockayne, Bedfordshire
Elizabeth, wife of John Fitzgeffrey, 1480, Sandon, Hertfordshire
Elizabeth, wife of William Hasylden, 1480, Little Chesterford, Essex
Florence, wife of John Fraunceys, 1485, Combe Florey, Somersetshire: photocopy from Monumental Brasses in Somerset. Arthur B. Connor. Bath: Kingsmead Reprints, 1970.
Margaret, wife of Sir Thomas Peyton, 1484, Isleham, Cambridgeshire
Elizabeth, wife of Sir William Culpepir, 146_, West Peckham, Kent
Margaret, wife of Sir William Lucy, 1466, Ingrave, Essex
Katherine, wife of Henry Barley, 1475, Albury, Hertfordshire: photocopy from The Craft and Design of Monumental Brasses. Henry Trivick. London: John Baker Publishers, Ltd. and New York: Humanities Press Inc., 1969.
Katherine, wife of Nicholas Deen, 1479, Barrowby, Lincolnshire
Alice, wife of John Harlston, 1480, Long Melford, Suffolk
Margery secondwife Sir William Clopton, 1480, Long Melford, Suffolk
Katherine, wife of Geoffery Josline, 1470, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire
Ann, wife of Mawrice Whitehede, 1480, West Tytherley, Hampshire; photocopy from “Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society.” Vol. VI. London: John Bale, Sons, and Danielson Ltd., n.d.
Eden, wife of Sir John Barre, 1470, Clehonger, Hertfordshire: photocopy from “The Monumental Brasses of Herefordshire and Worchestershire by Cecil T. Davis, 1884, Birmingham and Midland Institute, Archaeological Section. Transactions, Excursions, and Reports, 1884-85. Vo. XII. Birmingham: The Herald Press, 1887.
Anne, wife of Ralph St Leger, 1470, Ulcombe, Kent
civilian, wife of, 1480, Euston, Suffolk
Iseult, wife of Thomas Selby, 1479, East Malling, Kent
anon lady, 1480, Newington Next Hythe, Kent
civilian, wife of, 1480, Chrishall, Essex
civilian, wife of, 1480, Banwell, Somersetshire
Isabel, wife of John Coblegh, 1480, Chittlehampton, Devonshire
Joan, wife of John Coblegh, 1480, Chittlehampton, Somersetshire
Isabel, wife of William Cheyne, 1485, Blicking, Norfolk
Anne, wife of Robert Herward, 1485, Aldborough, Norfolk
Elizabeth, wife of John Seyntmour, 1485, Beckington, Somersetshire: photocopy from Monumental Brasses in Somerset. Arthur B. Connor. Bath: Kingsmead Reprints, 1970.
Elizabeth, wife of Sir John Say, 1473, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire
Katherine, wife of John Fastolff, 1478, Oulton, Suffolk
Margery, wife of Sir William Crofton, 1483, Trottescliffe, Kent

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