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Robes for a day to remember

Ede and Ravenscroft, London's oldest tailor and robemaker, supply the University of London with academic dress for Foundation Day. This year they tell us about the different types of robes, hoods and hats and what they signify.

hands point at gold trim detail on a turquoise academic dress gown
Ede and Ravenscroft have supplied the University of London since 1906

Foundation Day is always a memorable event, not only for the celebration of achievement, but also for the splendour of the eye-catching academic dress.

Ede and Ravenscroft is proud to have been supplying academic dress to the University of London since 1906 when it was appointed one of the University’s official robemakers. The University’s academic dress continues to be made in our production rooms by skilled craftspeople with decades of combined experience.

Gowns and hoods

Academic Dress usually consists of three elements; the gown, the hood and the hat. At the University of London there are six basic shapes of gowns, a single shape of hood and three types of hat.

Whilst the University’s undergraduates and most first degree holders and postgraduates wear a black gown, those graduating or honoured with a specialist or higher doctorate wear a claret or scarlet gown with facings and wing style sleeves lined with various colourful silks.

Most hoods for first degrees and postgraduate taught degrees are black and fully lined and edged in various coloured silks, each representing the faculty and degree award. Specialist doctorates hoods are made from claret cloth fully lined with ruby silk and higher doctorates hoods are made from scarlet cloth lined with silk in the same colour as the sleeve linings of the robe. Science is represented by gold, music by white, literature by russet brown, laws by blue and divinity by red.

University of London Foundation Day 2018
Ede and Ravenscroft robes and hats worn by Honorary Graduates, 2018

Caps, hats and bonnets

Finally the hat-  undergraduates, first degrees and postgraduates wear the familiar mortarboard with black tassel or a black soft Oxford cap, whilst Doctorates wear a black Tudor bonnet with a coloured cord or tassel reflecting the faculty of the award.

Honorary graduates are presented with their degrees on Foundation Day by the Chancellor of the University. Made from black silk damask, the Chancellor’s robe is front trimmed with gold lace with gold ornaments on its sleeves. The cap, if worn, is a black silk damask bonnet trimmed with gold or alternatively a black silk velvet cap of the square mortar-board pattern, trimmed with gold lace and gold tassel.

Foundation Day’s colourful display of Officers of the University wearing their official robes trimmed with gold or silver and honorary graduates donning the University’s distinctive academic dress will be missed this year.  But we look forward to it taking place in 2021.

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