Alex KerrFollow


This is a study of a one-page manuscript in the Oxford University Archives with the title ‘Different Forms of Gowns for All Sorts of Scholars in their Several Ranks’, dated June 1635. It was clearly written in connection with the Laudian Code of statutes, which was drafted in 1634 and adopted in 1636. The Code included regulations on university dress and its use at Oxford that would remain in force for 134 years. The document gives a concise specification for Oxford gowns at a time when other written records providing such detail are lacking and pictorial evidence is sparse. This article places ‘Different Forms’ in the context of the Laudian Code and provides a transcription. It then explains the various ranks and the requirements for the gowns and their facings and ornament. A section is devoted to four problematic terms for articles of dress. A commentary discusses significant points in the document, comparing the dress with Oxford gowns in the period leading up to 1635. A table summarizing the provisions in ‘Different Forms’, the text of a second manuscript (at Magdalen College) and a glossary of materials to be used for trimming the gowns are given in appendices.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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New Prairie Press



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