History of the Medieval Dress and Textile Society

The Society began in the early 1990s, inspired by a conversation on a train journey to London from an Early Textiles Study Group meeting in Manchester. It was created with the aim of establishing a Dress and Textiles group dedicated to the medieval period that would include a wide range of material including military dress. In that spirit MEDATS’s first president was Claude Blair of the Victoria and Albert Museum (Keeper of Metalwork, 1956-1982), an authority on arms and armour.

Other distinguished scholars who were involved from the start included John Cherry of the British Museum (Curator, Department of British & Medieval Antiquities, later Medieval & Later Antiquities, 1964-2002, Keeper from 1998), who later became President of the Society; Frances Pritchard (then of the Museum of London, later of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester), who was the first Secretary, and silk specialist Lisa Monnas who was the Membership Secretary and first Editor of the Newsletter. Jane Bridgeman took over from her. Other leading lights included Kay Staniland, Kay Lacey and Karen Watts.

medats logo

Our logo was designed by Christina Unwin for the book by Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard and Kay Staniland: Textiles and Clothing, c.1150-c.1450, Museum of London: Medieval Finds from Excavations in London (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2001).

Early conferences were held at various institutions in London associated with members of the committee. They were enthusiastically attended by members of the Early Knitting History Group (established in 1993) and a range of other specialists.

If you know anything more about our history, whether people or activities, please Gale Owen-Crocker at president@medats.org.uk.