The Thames at Richmond With the Old Royal Palace

A little out of period, this picture was painted probably 10 or 20 years prior to the 1640 by an unknown artist, but the clothes worn by the group of  morris dancers and the watchers show the kind of common garments that are only seen for the period in continental paintings. There is very little of this kind of thing from England. The picture is © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and you can find more about it by following this link.

In this detail you can see the dancers are wearing breeches and shirts only, but still keeping their hats on. Must have been a nice hot day! The woman dancer has an early rebato type collar with a linen coif on her head. Notice her petticoat is short enough to allow her to dance. The clothes are old fashioned, particularly the breeches, but not completely out of period for 1640s.

4 Comments to “The Thames at Richmond With the Old Royal Palace”

  1. The breeches of the laborer to the right are more in line with what might be expected for period. Might the ‘old fashioned” breeches of the dancers be considered costume or fancy dress specific to their dance?

  2. One of the UK Folklore postage stamps from 1981 is described as ”Morris Dancing by the Thames at Richmond” so I would guess it was inspried by the larger picture although the dancers look rather different.

  3. The “woman” dancer is nothing of the sort! Its a male Morris dancer, and this character is usually known as “The Betty”.Moulton Morris in Northamptonshire have well renowned character who dresses thus. Women were not regular Morris dancers and nor were there mixed Morris sides until the 1970s

    • I’m sure you are right Graham, the figure is wearing the clothes in an odd manner when you look closely. However I would add that it’s very hard to be certain about any tradition from that far back without more than one form of evidence.

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