UK UNIVERSITY HOODS
With an illustrious history, UK academic hoods are a potent symbol of education, honor, and piety. However, many do not know the full history or even modern varieties of UK graduation hoods. Let’s take a look at the history, styles, and common usage of UK academic hoods.
The History of Academic University Hoods
UK graduation hoods were once strictly functional garments, designed for shielding the wearer’s head from foul weather. In England and much of Europe, it evolved into a livelier and more ornamental garment only worn on rare and special occasions. UK graduation hoods are also worn by both lay readers and clergy in the Anglican Communion while in traditional choir dress, worn over their surplice. Commonly, choir members or the choirmaster may wear academic hoods in churches, cathedrals, and chapels over a surplice or cassock during either Morning or Evening Prayer, but not the Eucharist.
The Types and Proliferation of Graduation Hoods
UK academic hoods appear in two varieties, traditional full shape or a more modern simple shape. Full-shaped hoods are composed of a liripipe, cowl, and cape, and appear at Cambridge. Simple hoods do not have a cape, consisting only of the liripipe and cowl, and appear at Oxford.
There are other variations at various universities, the most common being the Aberdeen style, consisting of only a cowl and cape, or just a cape. Additionally, some universities use unique patterns and shapes, sometimes corresponding to an historical reflection of the hoods at the time of the university’s founding, or even bearing a completely redesigned look altogether.
The Use of Color and Style to Denote Rank
The hood lining and colour is used to denote the wearer’s rank or faculty, meaning there are bachelors hoods and masters hoods. It is popular for Commonwealth universities to utilize bachelors’ hoods lined or edged with white rabbit’s fur, whereas the hoods of masters are lined with silk of various colors. Originally, the latter instead used ermine or more expensive furs rather than silk. Meanwhile, the hoods of doctors commonly implement a scarlet cloth and colored silk lining. The popularization of distinct faculty coloration began with the University of London, with many other universities proceeding in their example.
It is rare for a hood to not be paired with a gown, although Oxford is a notable example, as their doctors don’t wear hoods along with their robes. However, this rule is routinely disregarded for ceremonies performed at outside universities when Oxford doctors sit in on the faculty.
UK Academic Hoods With Neckbands
The hood’s neckband typically features a loop, originally designed to be hooked on a cassock button. In the absence of cassocks during graduation, the loop is commonly affixed to one of the wearer’s shirt buttons. However, the hood being somewhat heavy, this attachment can pull up on the wearer’s shirt. The proper way to don the hood is by allowing the neckband to hook onto the collar beneath the tie securing the hood. The hood may be worn to down and forward hooked on the jacket’s button, or possibly pinned, causing the hood to rest poorly, and thus be prone to slipping down the wearer’s shoulders, much as a shawl would.