Reader Query

Royal Hats Reader Evelyn submitted a request for millinery information with a most personal connection:

In the 1950’s my Aunt and my Mother worked in “The Hat Hospital” somewhere in Kensington, London. It was quite near the palace. They made and mended hats for members of the Royal Family. Does anyone remember it? There is no trace anywhere on the internet. Thank you.

Is anyone able to help with this?

Embed from Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth in a rose-trimmed at the Festival of Britain, summer 1951

Image from Getty as indicated

18 thoughts on “Reader Query

  1. the hat hospital was owned by miss doreen roy and was on lower grosvenor street london sw1 the road runs along the side of the royal mews by buckingham palace. miss roy lived next to us very near her shop in the early sixties.

    • So pleased to read that someone other than myself knows about the hat hospital. My mother called the boss ‘miss Roy’. Seeing the name , jogged my memory. Thank you. Evelyn.

  2. I found ashort video of QEQM at the British Industries Fair in 1950, wearing the hat shown in this post. Although it is in B/W, many details can be seen. Enjoy.

    • Brilliant! It’s facinating to see the brim is actually overlapped in front, giving the impression of being a double brim, the whole thing attached to a close fitting cloche-style crown.

  3. Could it possibly have been located within one of the big department stores of the era in the Kensington area?
    That would seem to be plausible, and of the three large Kensington Department Stores in the 1950s –Barker’s, Derry & Toms and Ponting’s — Pontings actually began as a Milliners.
    It would seem that ‘designer’ hats in need of repair would have gone back to the studio that created them, as HatQueen noted, but given the sheer volume of hats produced and worn regularly at the time, a certain percentage of them would need repair at some point.
    A department store seems quite likely to have a hat repair department (given how large these stores appeared physically), and it certainly could have been referred to as a ‘hospital’.
    MrFitzoy has no actual idea, but it does perhaps provide another avenue for further research.

    • Mr. Fitzroy, how fondly I remember going “downtown” around 1965, wearing coat and tie, mother wearing her Sunday best. We climbed onto a bus, (literally for me, being a wee lad) took a 30 minute ride into town, ate lunch in a large department store restaurant, then went to the eye doctor for an exam and glasses! We were up, off the street by many floors, and the doctor asked me if I could read an illuminated sign down on the street – it said “Gayety Theatre!” Mom was not amused at his choice in signage for me to spot out among so many others! Today, the same downtown is practically a ghost town, with so many people working from home! (Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with hats. Today’s query is far too big a puzzle for me to help solve.)

      • Thankyou for the video. These are the sort of wide brimmed hats that were brought to the Hat Hospital to be treated. Either to be altered or have a different decorative piece or just to be steamed back to shape. Very elegant Queen Mother.
        The Hat Hospital was in fact a shop. There was shop window . A room leading into a larger work room with a big table in the centre.
        My Aunt Celia and one or two other ladies restored, cleaned , altered or just steamed the hats back to their original shape. The Lady in charge was possibly not the owner, I don’t recall her name. I was a young child when I visited the shop. I thank you for all the interest.

  4. Aw isint that lovely the hat hospital.
    Sorry I have no information about it. I will enquire from my English friends. Hats were wore much more back then needed repair sometimes.
    Thank you for that query.

    • I’ve been wondering the same thing. It seems most likely that royal hats would be sent for repair to the same millinery studio that created them. So who was making royal hats in London in the 1950s? Aage Thaarup, Claude Saint-Cyr, Simone Mirman, Herta “Georgette” Groves (who founded the London Hat Company), possibly Marie O’Reagen.

      • I also wondered if it was possible to see if information was available about past Royal Warrant Holders – just to try and glean some more information.

        This is a lovely puzzle to noodle over.

          • I checked the lists of names. What a lot of hats were worn . Now my wooly hat gets in the way of my mask. Thank you for all the responses to my Hat Hospital enquiry.
            I can only think that maybe there is a person who worked with a member of the Royal Family or a society hat wearer still around. Of course I have no connections and am no longer living in Britain.
            Thank you.

          • Evelyn’s comment that now her wooly hat gets in the way of her mask makes me wonder if the wearing of masks during the Spanish flu epidemic of the last century caused any noticeable changes in hat styling, as that was a time when women of all classes wore hats when out in public.

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