Cap of Maintenance

Cap of Maintenance

A cap of maintenance usually looks like this.
Shield, helm and crest of Edward, the Black Prince (d. 1376) from his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. The lion stands upon a cap of maintenance

A cap of maintenance, also known as a chapeau, is a ceremonial cap of crimson velvet lined with ermine, which is worn or carried by certain persons as a sign of nobility or special honour. It is worn with the high part to the fore, the tapering tail behind. It is frequently used as a heraldic crest, such as in the royal arms of England.

A cap of maintenance is one of the insignia of the George IV State Diadem).

In more general terms, the velvet and ermine lining of a crown (or of the coronet of a peer) is itself sometimes called a 'cap of maintenance', and is technically a separate item to the crown itself. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a Cap of Maintenance was granted by the Pope to both Henry VII and Henry VIII as a mark of special privilege.

The origin of this symbol of dignity is obscure. It may have had a purely practical origin being used to help a crown fit more firmly or to protect the head from bare metal on the crown.

Misuse of the term and confusion as to use

A number of cities and towns refer to the use of a 'Cap of Maintenance' as worn by a ceremonial officer, most usually a Sword Bearer. These are based most often on a design that is worn by the Swordbearer of the

  • The Crown, Cap and Sword get their own coach on a trip to the Palace of Westminster.
  • The Cap of Maintenance and the Sword of State are carried before the Queen in the procession of the State Opening of Parliament.
  • [2] Illustration of Cap of Maintenance being borne before Henry VIII in procession to Parliament, 1512.
  • George VI pictured in crimson robe and Cap of Maintenance ready for his Coronation

External links

  1. ^ Ceremonial Costume by Alan Mansfield.London: A & C Black, 1980.
  2. ^ The Mansion House, York


, thus further compounding the confusion. dexter and sinister), who was of the Yorkist dynasty. York incorporates this into its Coat of Arms as a crest but reverses it so that the tail in the peak facing [2] (nota bene The Mansion House, York, website claims this from Richard II in 1393 - almost 90 years earlier than Richard III Richard III, a claim that the original medieval Cap of Maintenance is that kept and displayed in the Mansion House; whatever its origin it is in fact a 'Robin Hood' style of cap with ermine trimmings becoming a split peak at the front and was copied from an heraldic drawing and not from a genuine 'Cap of Maintenance'. Caps of this style are still worn by the York Swordbearers. The city claims the privilege from King York) the Swordbearer wears a variant copy of the London 'Muscovy Hat', although some wear other sorts of eccentric headgear which they mistakenly also style 'Cap of Maintenance'. In the City of [1]