Gabrielle Ray

'Gabrielle Ray said, 'I am always dancing; I love it! When I don't dance, I sing. What else is there to do?'

Ladies Kindly Remove your Hats

Movie Theatre Etiquette

Getting Over The Difficulty – 1908

Macqueen-Pope [1] wrote “Mr George Alexander would respectfully request those ladies who frequent the St. James’s Theatre intent on viewing the performance to recollect the similar purpose in those who sit behind them. If therefore every large hat were left in the Cloak Room (for which there is no charge) the lady so doing would confer a great benefit on her immediate neighbour”. This is from the programme of “The Tree of Knowledge” produced at the St. James in 1897.

Mr Alexander’s appeal often fell on stony ground and the majority of women did not comply with his respectful request. However, this may not have been a simple refusal to comply. It must be remembered that a woman’s coiffure then was something a woman of today would be amazed. Hair was worn long and piled on top of the head in an ornate style, often reinforced by extra curls, known as “switches”. It had an artificial foundation on which it was piled, which served two purposes; one to support the hair and the other to form something through which hatpins could be run, so as to keep the hat secure. And, as hats were quite large, this was no light matter. The hatpins which secured the hat were long and dangerous items. Removing them was easy enough but putting them in again was more difficult and required time, room and a large mirror, because it had to be “just so”; if hurried she ran the risk of wounding herself with a misplaced pin. It must also be remembered that a hat was not purchased in isolation but with a specific dress in mind to create the perfect appearance.


[1] Maqueen-Pope, W, (1947) “Carriages at Eleven, The Story of the Edwardian  Theatre ” Hutchinson & Co; London. (p. 50 – 51)


August 10, 2013 - Posted by | Actress, Social History | , , , , ,


  1. A very good description of the technicalities involved in wearing Edwardian hats.

    Comment by Hedda Gabler | August 15, 2013 | Reply

  2. […] Ladies Kindly Remove your Hats […]

    Pingback by Getting Over The Difficulty – 1908 « Grumpy old fart!!! | September 10, 2013 | Reply

  3. […] the Merry Widow hat appears to have started a trend, Macqueen-Pope noted that large hats were “an issue” some years earlier where he observed “The Edwardian […]

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