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Abstract

Leicester lies on the cusp between traditional and innovative styles of academic dress. It received its Charter in 1957 and existing students were given the option of continuing to read for London degrees or transferring to Leicester degrees. The first Leicester graduates therefore emerged at the midsummer degree congregations of 1958. Leicester was the last of the twentieth century university colleges that started under the tutelage of the University of London before obtaining full independence and degree-awarding powers. This process gathered momentum in the years following World War 2, starting with Nottingham (in 1948) and followed by Southampton (1952), Hull2 (1954) and Exeter (1955). These four universities all adopted a fairly traditional style of academic dress, with Hull and Southampton adopting the London design for their bachelors’ gowns. Exeter departed from tradition in taking dove grey as its basic university colour and incorporating it into all its hoods. Leicester’s academic dress represents a mixture of the traditional with, in some cases, fairly radical innovations. However, it was left to the ‘plate glass’ universities of the early 1960s to strike out with some really quite startling creations: coloured gowns at York and East Anglia, the Kent cape replacing the hood, the Sussex squares of fur, continental-style doctoral robes and the cylindrical pileus. [Excerpt].

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