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Fashions of the Tudor Court - The Gable Hood

Updated on January 8, 2017
MizLiot profile image

Laura has had a lifetime interest in history - especially the people and the fashions! She specialises in monarchical history.

Queen Elizabeth of York
Queen Elizabeth of York
Queen Katherine of Aragon
Queen Katherine of Aragon
Queen Jane Seymour
Queen Jane Seymour
Holbein's sketch showing the back of the third version.
Holbein's sketch showing the back of the third version.

To those familiar with the portraits of people at the English court during the reign of the Tudors (1485 - 1603), it isn't just the clothing that is interesting, but the headdresses of the women are certainly one of the main interesting points.

The Gable Hood received its name because it looked like a roof atop a woman's head. Two wearers of the most definite early version were Lady Margaret Beaufort, and more famously, her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth of York. The hood remained popular mainly in England - although Princess Margaret Tudor tried to introduce it to the Scots after her marriage to James IV; it did not become popular as it was in England. However, early versions of the Gable were worn in Flanders. It was worn in the reign of Henry VII and in Henry VIII's reign until the mid-1520s before it became popular again in the mid-1530s (this was mainly due to the fact that the Queen generally set the example for fashion - the Gable was popular with Henry VIII's first and third wives, and generally forsaken by the second, although there is a record of her having worn it).

First, one must describe the early Gable Hood that would have been worn by Queen Elizabeth of York.

To create the structure of the roof-like shape of the Gable, there would have been a stiff cap made in its shape. Then upon the cap would be a cover, and there would then be a semi-circular hood attached to the top of this. The semi-circular hood would itself have a few slits in the side - to separate the frontlet and the embroidered band from the rest of the hood. The frontlet was the edge of the hood which surrounded the face, the embroidered band being just behind. In every image of the early Gable, the embroidered band falls before the shoulders.

However, by the 1520s the style of the Gable had changed - it naturally developed, as fashions generally do. There is a portrait of Queen Katherine of Aragon, by an unknown artist, which depicts the evolved Gable Hood.

The frontlet is shorter than in the day of Queen Elizabeth, and curves inward. There is striped padding between the head and the hood. The semi-circular hood has only one slit now- up the centre of the back. The embroidered band which previously hung in front of Queen Elizabeth's shoulders now finds itself pinned up on either side of the hood, between the frontlet and the semi-circular hood. This style of wearing the band pinned seems to have been fashionable - there is also a miniature suspected to be Anne Boleyn (later the second wife who would patron a different style of hood altogether) wearing her hood in the same style as Queen Katherine. The lappets beside the frontlet and beneath the turned-up band are part of the foundations of the hood.

The next development of the Gable was the final version as worn throughout the rest of Henry VIII's reign. It is instantly recognisable to those who have seen portraits of King Henry's wives - it is the oddly shaped hood of Queen Jane Seymour, the third wife. It was not only Queen Jane who wore this version of the hood, but other noble ladies as well. Again the developments of this version of the Gable seem natural.

The frontlet was once more shorter than the version worn by Queen Katherine, and the lappets end with the frontlet. The embroidered band is still pinned to the sides of the hood as it was worn on the hood of Queen Katherine. There is still the striped padding between the head and the hood. However, by this time the semi-circular hood was gone. In its place were two long flat tubes of material (judging by the portrait of Queen Jane, it seems to have been black velvet) attached to the back of the hood, and attached to the back of the hood was a diamond-shaped back piece. It seems this was lighter than the previous semi-circular hood. There is a drawing by Holbein that shows clearly how the hood looked from behind. Queen Jane has one of the tubes folded into the shape of a whelk shell and pinned to the top of the hood, whilst allowing the other half to be loose. The tubes generally were either pinned on top of the hood in different shapes or allowed to be loose.

The Gable Hood as worn by Queen Jane remained throughout Henry VIII's reign by older women as the French Hood became more popular. It continued to be worn (albeit not frequently) in the subsequent reigns before finally vanishing for good in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.


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    • profile image

      The Tudor Tailor 

      5 years ago

      We thought you might be interested in our new headdress research. Do see our latest news for details. Best wishes,

      Jane & Ninya

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 

      8 years ago from USA

      I thought this was an interesting hub and always interested in reading about fashion through the ages... I wish I could read more hubs-- need more time! I will keep an eye out for yours, CC

    • MizLiot profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Thanks! No, it probably wasn't - it appears to have been quite heavy to begin with, and you literally had a box sitting on your head.

    • maryhoneybee profile image


      8 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Fashion certainly has changed since this period! It doesn't look like the most comfortable thing to wear, but it definitely is beautiful and intricate. Interesting hub! Thanks for bringing us the details and history of these unique headdresses.

    • MizLiot profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      To ripplemaker and Ciel Clark, thanks for your comments. I appreciate them greatly - at least I know someone took an interest and read it!

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 

      8 years ago from USA

      Very informative and congrats on the nomination! (I'm sure the generation previous to the gable hood thought that it was a crazy new youth fad...)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Gablehood...this was an interesting read as I am not familiar with this topic. Hmmmm I wonder if I would look good on it..if I can try it out hahahha

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! Share Gablehood to the world by reading and voting Have fun!

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 

      8 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, welcome to Hubpages! This is a wonderful start for your experiences in this community. And congratulations on your Hubnugget nomination! Voted useful, awesome, etc. You also have my Hubnugget vote!


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