Cornish Costume


Traditional dress: During the 18th and 19th Centuries a distinctive form of dress evolved in Cornwall defined by industry, geography and the Cornish community’s sense of individuality. For example, each 'gook' (or bonnet) worn by Bal Maidens (women who worked at the mine surface) would be unique depending on which mine a woman worked at. Josephine Stewart's project researching the 19th Century Workwear of West Cornwall describes Cornish costume in detail with images by kind permission of Penlee House.  Click here to download pdf e-book. 


Cornish Tartan: The images of the fishwives captured by  19th Century artists of the Newlyn School illustrate the traditional use of tartan shawls but it was the Celtic revivalists of the twentieth century that embraced tartan as an expression of Cornish national identity. The 'Cornish National Tartan' was designed by Cornish Bard E.E. Morton-Nance in the 1960s The kilt is described as 'black and saffron'. The tartan depicts the Cornish flag of St Piran, as well as the 'red' of the chough's feet (a chough being a  bird which can be found on the Cornish emblem), the 'blue' of the sea and saffron or gold.  Cornish Tartan quickly captured the public imagination and as well as "Hunting" and "Dress" versions of original "National" tartan several Cornish families have registered tartans in their own name.


Cornish colours: The Cornish colours are black, white and gold. Black and white represent the white cross on black background of the banner of St Piran, Cornwall's patron saint; Gold and black represent the fifteen gold bezants on a black shield, the heraldic representation of the Cornish Duchy. These are the colours adopted by Cornish rugby fans and events proclaiming a strong Cornish identity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *