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Monks Robe's

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:57 am
by IanS
What material should Monks robes be made of?

I’ve been away from re-enactment for over 10 years and looking to get back into it as a Non-Com Monk character due to a shoulder injury involving a motorbike and a free flying lesson and a new driver.
I thought a Monk would be ideal but all the cheaper robes I see for sale are modern material. And the Expensive ones are Cotton.

Surely it would be made of heavy wool?

Also what would be a sensible price for authentic robes & hood?

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:12 am
by sally
What dateline and order are you considering?It might make a difference as to what shade wool you should be looking for and the cut of the robe and any accessories. Its possible that the undyed wools that Stuart Peachey sells might be appropriate?

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:37 am
by IanS
To be honest not sure which order or dateline yet?
I was thinking basic Medieval in either Black or Brown?

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:59 pm
by Nigel
Should be wool

contact DEBS debloughcostumes do a google search she makes em


Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:24 pm
by guthrie
I just made myself a simple Dominicans outfit out of undyed white wool from Stuart Peachey, and some cheap nasty not-exactly-wool as cloak and hood (Which will be replaced as soon as I can find decent blackish wool).
Try searching the forum, we had a discussion about this sort of thing a few months back. I think in the 1100 to 1500 section.

The other trick being why would a monk be away from his cloister? Perhaps a Friar would be better?

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:20 pm
by Colin Middleton
Or cast the net even wider. There is a serious shortage of chaplains and other types of preist in re-enactment groups at the moment!

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:18 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Chapter 55 of the Rule of St Benedict says:

"Let clothing be given to the brethren according to the nature of the place in which they dwell and its climate;
for in cold regions more will be needed,and in warm regions less. This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot. We believe, however, that in ordinary places the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
a tunic,a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer), a scapular for work,stockings and shoes to cover the feet.
The monks should not complain about the colour or the coarseness of any of these things, but be content with what can be found in the district where they live and can be purchased cheaply.
The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments, that they be not too short for those who wear them, but of the proper fit.
Let those who receive new clothes always give back the old ones at once, to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls, to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
more than that is superfluity and should be taken away. Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
when they receive new ones.
Those who are sent on a journey shall receive drawers from the wardrobe, which they shall wash and restore on their return.
And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better than what they usually wear. These they shall receive from the wardrobe
when they set out on a journey, and restore when they return."

This was written in the 7th century and at that time monks would be seen wearing a mixture of colours - some habits would be grey, some brown and some natural wool. By the 12th century, however, the various monastic orders had settled on specific colours which continued throughout the middle ages: Benedictines and Cluniacs wore black, Cistercians and Carthusians wore natural off-white (the Carthusians wore a hair-shirt next to the skin); absolutely no monks wore brown from this point onwards. Brown and grey habits were again introduced from the early 13th century - but for friars rather than monks.

Have a look at this thread for more information: ... 10&t=20246

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Sat May 26, 2012 4:32 pm
by IanS
Thread revival! :rock:

Just wandering if there where any monks still wearing robes in the Victorian era?

Reason being although I do 17th Century (1642) we do one event at Portsmouth dockyards that is Victorian Christmas and don’t see the point buying lots of Victorian kit which may never get used again where as a monks robe are fairly cheap and depending on the robe could be used for multi-period such as 17th Cent and Victorian? Or are there vast differences?

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Sat May 26, 2012 5:21 pm
by Merlon.
I think you would be very hard pressed to find a monk in 1642 England outside of the retinue of Queen Henrietta Maria.
The ones in her retinue were French....

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Sat May 26, 2012 7:22 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Merlon is right - the first order of Anglican monks established after 1538 (the Dissolution era) was founded by Richard Meux Benson in 1865. This was called the Society of St John the Evangelist and it included a mixture of preaching in the community and a contemplative life with a version of the Opus Dei (but not in Latin). They seem to have been active in Scotland, Canada, India and South Africa.

I have not been able to discover any details of their dress in the 19th century.

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Tue May 29, 2012 7:37 pm
by Ellen Gethin
A lot of monks (and nuns) still wear the habit today. I once thought about joining an Anglican order, and one of the things you had to do as an aspirant was to make your own novice's habit.

Re: Monks Robe's

Posted: Tue May 29, 2012 9:16 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Even in the 19th and early 20th century the Church of England was still very wary about anything that might support a resurgence of the Catholic faith; read "The Quest for Becket's Bones" by John Butler, in which the discovery of a carefully hidden skeleton in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral caused major apoplexy among the Church hierarchy. The idea of a rediscovered major Catholic saint in an Anglican cathedral was just too dangerous to contemplate. It turned out not to be the remains of Becket, but many people believe he is still lurking somewhere within the cathedral, his whereabouts a closely guarded secret even today.

Although modern Anglican monks and nuns wear pretty much the same habits as their medieval ancestors, I doubt this was true in the 19th century - it would have revived too many unwelcome associations with Rome. All the photographs I have seen of the major players connected with the Society of St John the Evangelist show them wearing dog collars and cassocks rather than monastic robes - although these may not be photographs of the actual monks themselves (I still can't find any such images) I suspect that this was how the monks looked at that time.