Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford: Ch. 7 Annotation – Do you know what a calash is?

Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.

The spring evenings were getting bright and long, when three or four ladies in calashes met at Miss Barker’s door. Do you know what a calash is? It is a covering worn over caps, not unlike the heads fastened on old-fashioned gigs; but sometimes it is not quite so large. This kind of head-gear always made an awful impression on the children in Cranford; and now two or three left off their play in the quiet sunny little street, and gathered, in wondering silence, round Miss Pole, Miss Matty, and myself.

Designed in the 1770s the calash was a folding bonnet similar to a hood but held with structural boning so it wouldn’t interfere with the large wigs that were in fashion.

In the 1840s calash’s made a comeback but they were smaller and didn’t fold, known as fixed clash bonnets. I imagine those of Cranford were something more akin to the Georgian era’s style, excepting Mary Smith’s.


“Bonnet (headgear) .” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnet_%28headgear%29&gt;.

Millard, Simon. “An Early Victorian Silk Bonnet. Circa 1845-50. from simonmillard on Ruby Lane.” Ruby Lane . N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. <http://www.rubylane.com/item/493178-830/An-Early-Victorian-Silk-Bonnet&gt;.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Great bit of history Katherine. Thanks for sharing.One wonders what happens when the wind blows???

    1. My pleasure. I suppose depending how large the calash is one could just get blown away. LOL 😀

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