Historical Hats, Costumes & Accessories

Made by Nobility, for Nobility

The Hennin C.1450 - 1470

Gold Brocade Truncated Steeple Hennin, with Black Velvet Frontlet and Knee Length Veil The "Heart Shaped Hennin" would have still been worn at the time of 1450 but the "Hennin" was making an appearance sometime around 1449. The name, Hennin, is claimed to derive from the old French word "Genhenner (Modern French, Gêner)" meaning "to incommode or inconvenience." It consisted of a cap in a cone or cylindrical construction, very much like a candlesnuffer, which would have been worn on an angle at the back of the head. Some of the Hennins had deep black velvet bands called "Lappets" or "Fontanges" folded back from the front by the brow. These fell into two small "Tippets" to the shoulders (like spaniels ears). No one with an income of less than £10 was permitted to wear them.

The Hennin would have been covered in brilliantly coloured silks, velvets and "other costly stuff" (gold and silver tissue) as well as being richly and heavily embroidered. Very transparent veils would have hung down the back, almost to the floor in some cases or tucked under the arm. Other veils fell gracefully over the eyes; some were worn under the chin (like the C13th Barbette) and called a Turkey Bonnet (though it is uncertain that the style actually came from Turkey.) Some Hennin’s also had double veils hemmed with "rich stuff." Hair would not have been visible as it was considered "unfashionable" so it would have been drawn tightly away from the forehead, into a tight bun, high up on the crown of the head. The Hennin was placed over this.

High pointed "Steeple Hennin's" were extremely popular on the continent, but was worn in England only by the most fashionable of Noblewoman. In France, the higher the Hennin, the higher the rank of the wearer. The Château de Vincennes was obliged to alter the doors so that the Queen and her ladies were able to enter rooms when in full dress. In Italy some "Steeple Hennins" were "half an ell high" (3/4 of a metre high).

A preaching Friar called Thomas Conecte held an "Anti-Hennin Crusade" which ended in a bonfire of these "Steeple Hennins." The next day, before the ashes were hardly cold, fresh steeples adorned the Ladies heads higher than before. Many maids must have sat sewing all night!

Another preacher, a Carmelite, made children run after women who wore these headdresses and cry "a hennin! a hennin!"

Many examples of these headdresses can be seen on Monumental Brasses in various churches throughout England. The effigy of Lady Crosby 1466 in Great St Helens Church, London is one of them.

The Hennin was worn by upper and middle classes but the lower class continued to wear their hair in the style of the previous century.

By 1470 this Hennin was replaced by the "Flowerpot" or "Butterfly Hennin."

Turkey Bonnet Hennin in Regal Blue Velvet and Black Velvet Dark Blue Velvet Hennin with Gold Frett, Blue Jewels with a Black Velvet Frontlet and Veil. Made for a Wedding Grey Silk Truncated Hennin with Frontlet and Veil, edged in Silver Chipped Seed Pearls Gold Brocade Truncated Steeple Hennin, with Black Velvet Frontlet and Knee Length Veil


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