The long and short of it

The Long & Short of it – the History of Hair, Hats & Head Coverings

(Please note that the Historic Life Weekend – The Long and Short of it– The History of Hair, Hats & Head Coverings has been moved from 17 – 18 September to 15 – 16 October due to the Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.)

How someone wears their hair is part of their self-expression, and at different times in the past various conventions or expectations led to specific styles and head coverings. Looking at the eras of some of the Museum’s key historic buildings, we will explore what this meant for people who would have been living in buildings similar to those at the Museum in Saxon, Tudor, Stuart and Victorian times. Important questions to consider include fashions in the length of hair and hair coverings; religious requirements; how frequently hair was washed; ideals of beauty at the time and what was achievable for those outside of the ruling elite. Hair has also been used as an important fibre at times, both human and horse hair, and as part of our programming looking at different materials we will consider this factor.

Demonstrations and displays over this weekend: 

Find out about hygiene for the body and hair in Tudor England, in Bayleaf farmhouse, B1 

Hats through the ages, including headwear for all eras covered by the Museum. On display in the Building Crafts Gallery, C2 with informal 10-minute talks at 11.30, 12.30, 2.30 and 3.30 

Hair and head coverings in the Saxon era, find out more at the Saxon building, E3 With informal 10-minute talks at 12.00, 13.00, 2.30, 3.30 

Straw plaited hats display and demonstration, with Veronica Main MBE, who has researched the hat industry in the UK for over 40 years and is the most experienced traditional straw plaiter in the UK. In Crawley Hall, M3 

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Information for Visitors

The Museum’s historic buildings are fascinating places to explore, plus you can learn how food was prepared in the Tudor kitchen and how flour is milled in the watermill – where you can buy grain and feed the hungry ducks on the mill pond. Also enjoy the fresh air and see the heavy horses and the other traditional breed farm animals including chickens and geese. There are lovely woodland walks and children can explore our woodland play area and family activity barn.

Our waterside café will be open (serving 9.30am–3pm), plus there are indoor and outdoor picnic areas. Dogs on leads are welcome and there is ample free parking. Please note that the Museum is a no-smoking site. Visitors with access needs are advised to read our accessibility page in advance of their visit.

All activities are subject to change.

Historic Life Weekends

For 2022 we have new topics in our popular series of Historic Life weekends. There will be a chance to chat to experts, see demonstrations and displays as well as explore the Museum. These are ideal for people specifically interested in the subject areas, as well as those generally interested in a topic and looking for an enjoyable, relaxing day out with a difference.


Sat–Sun 1–2 October 2022