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Canterbury cap

File:William Laud.jpg
The Right Honourable William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, wearing a Canterbury cap

The Canterbury cap is a square cloth hat with sharp corners found in the Anglican communion, similar to the Counter-Reformation's biretta, the notable exception being that a Canterbury cap has four ridges, compared to the biretta's three. It is also soft and foldable, "Constructed to fold flat when not in use..." [1] whereas the biretta is rigid. The Canterbury cap is the medieval birettum, descended from the ancient pileus headcovering. It is sometimes called the "catercap."

File:Richard Bancroft.png
Archbishop Richard Bancroft in Canterbury cap.

In the Anglican Church, clergy are entitled to wear the cap. Canterbury caps are made in several colours:[2]

  • Black: for Priests and deacons;
  • Blue: T. Pratt & Sons Company (1871 to 1961) made a blue version for choristers;
  • Red:, perhaps intended for chaplains in the Queen's Ecclesiastical Household;
  • Purple: for bishops.

In 1899, Percy Dearmer in his "Parson's Handbook" wrote: ″The Cap, or ‘square cap,’ may have had its origin in the almuce. For the almuce was originally used to cover the head, and when it ceased to fulfil that function the cap seems to have been introduced. It has gone through several modifications: once of the comely shape that we see in the portraits of Bishop Fox and others, it developed in the seventeenth century into the form sometimes called the Canterbury cap (of limp material, with a tuft on the top), and then into the still beautiful college-cap in England, and abroad into the positively ugly biretta. There is no conceivable reason for English churchmen to discard their own shape in favour of a foreign one, except that the biretta offends an immense number of excellent lay folk, and thus makes the recovery of the Church more difficult."[3]

A similar cap called the Oxford soft cap is worn today as part of academic dress by some women undergraduates at Oxford University instead of the mortarboard. It has a flap at the back which is held up with buttons unlike the Canterbury cap.

The Tudor bonnet is also a similar academic cap worn by a person who holds a doctorate.

See also


  1. ^ Anon (2010). "J Wippell and Company Limited - Clerical Shirts, Clergy Cassocks, Church Vestments and Church Silverware". J Wippell and Company Limited - Style 250 Canterbury Cap. J. Wippell & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 2014-06-18. 
  2. ^ Philippi, Dieter (2009). Sammlung Philippi - Kopfbedeckungen in Glaube, Religion und Spiritualität,. St. Benno Verlag, Leipzig. ISBN 978-3-7462-2800-6. 
  3. ^ Percy Dearmer (1921). The Parson's Handbook. London. 

External links

Dieter Philippi (2012). "Canterbury Cap Worn by Choristers". The Philippi Collection. Dieter Philippi, Kirkel, Germany. Retrieved 2014-06-18.