Laurel Cloak


Some four years ago, the Worshipful Company of Broiderers undertook a project to create a Peerage Cloak for the Order of the Pelican. The Order of Chivalry already had a cloak (although this is not always used), and the Order of the Laurel had plans to create their own cloak. The Pelican cloak was constructed in 2009 and is used as part of the ceremony to induct a new member of that Order - but the Laurels still lack a peerage cloak.

At Festival this year (2012), the Company discussed the idea of running a design competition, so that a Laurel cloak could be produced. The Order of the Laurel were pleased to agree to the idea and the Fighter Auction fund has agreed to support the creation of the Pelican Cloak.

The design competion was held at Midwinter 2012 and judged by a group of Laurels. There were two excellent entries - the selected design is described below (see the other design).

Historical Sources

A cloak for the investiture of a new peer is a historical supportable garment. Orders within period were marked by a variety of symbols, including chains, badges and cloaks.

Other contemporary mantle designs, such as those used by Orders within our period, are similar in shape. Many have a shaped neck and a narrow border design, as can be seen in Fig 1 and 2 below.

Fig 1. Emperor Sigismund, Order of the Dragon
Fig 2. Teutonic Knights Hermann

This design is based on the Sternenmantel (Star Mantle) of Heinrich II, the last Saxon king of Germany and later, the Holy Roman Emperor. The Sternenmantel was presented to Henry by Duke Ismahel of Bari in the 11th century. It was donated to Bamberg Cathedral by Henry II or his wife, where it was used as a cope.


Fig 3.  Sternenmantel of Heinrich II


Fig 4: The Coronation Mantle, Sicily early 12thc

The original 11th century mantle was made of silk twill with medallions of the life of Christ and celestial bodies worked in couched gold thread, with some details in coloured silk in stem stitch.  In the 15th century the embroidered elements were cut away and remounted on the current Italian silk damask, so the original placement of the motifs is not known.

When designs were being considered for the Lochac Royal Cloaks, Mistress Bess Haddon proposed one based on this cloak. It was not selected for this role, but it seems highly appropriate to use if for the Laurels.

Other contemporary mantle designs, such as those used by Orders within our period, are similar in shape. Many have a shaped neck and a narrow border design, as can be seen in Figs 1-2 and in Fig 4 above.



The proposed design is based on the Sternenmantel, and makes use of the original 8 sided star medallions, and circular emblems scattered evenly over the cloak, and uses the letters as a front edge border. 

It does not include the names of the members of the Order of the Laurel, but does depict their various arts and crafts.  This approach should reduce the amount of ongoing work required to keep the cloak up to date.

The Laurel cloak will be the same dimensions as the Pelican cloak (145cm radius), which allows for use on people of widely varying sizes and means it can be cut in one piece from 150cm wide fabric.  It will have a shaped neck and will be held together at the neck by a clasp, rather than a tied cord.

Laurel cloak design

Fig 5: Laurel Cloak Design


The Sternenmantel  includes a number of circular emblems, which depict celestial bodies and silhouettes in floriated rings.  Some of these images are presented in outline, with others filled in, with a couched outline around an appliqued silk base.

In this design, the circular emblems will depict laurel wreaths, the symbol of the Order of the Laurel.  In order to emphasise the Laurel, these will be worked in appliqued gold silk, with a couched edge and border.
Celestial body medallion
Fig 6: Celestial body medallion from Sterrnmantle
Fig 7: Laurel wreath medallion for the Laurel cloak

In the original cloak, the stars are created by two interlocking squares, with a vinework border, surrounding images of the life of Christ, as can be seen in the figure below. Again, some of these images are presented in outline, with others filled in, with a couched outline around an appliqued silk base.

The star medallion design for the Laurel cloak is essentially the same, with the 8-sided star medallions providing a highly appropriate reference to the Lochac stars. 

The stars will depict imagery relating to the arts and crafts for which the members of the Order have been recognised. A simplified scroll border will make the embroidery easier to execute.

One of the original medallions on the Sterrnmantle depicts a lyre, which provides an excellent symbol for the musical arts, and a direct design reference back to the original cloak.

An analysis of the current members of the Order provided an initial list of arts and crafts, to form the basis of the star medallion designs:


The members of the Order were consulted for advice on the most appropriate symbols for their crafts, and which crafts could be combined under the same design. As new arts or crafts are recognised in future, additional medallions will be added as required.


The Sternenmantel has a border of capitals in Carolingian style around the hem and smaller Latin inscriptions are placed near some of the medallion scenes.  The Laurel cloak will have decorative text along the leading edge, to provide a border as seen in many of the mantle designs, rather than along the hem. These border sections will also provide reinforcement along the edge most subject to wear.

Fig 8: Border detail from Sterrenmantle
Fig 9: Border detail for cloak (to be simplified)

The border text will read 'LOCHAC ME FECIT' repeated  to fill the border, which translates as "Lochac made me".  Such inscriptions were often found on medieval craftworks, such as the carved Romanesque capital and the portrait frame shown below.

Romanesque capital
Fig 10: Romanesque capital, Collegiale Saint-Pierre, Chauvigny
Fig 11: Frame on a self-portrait by Van Eyck, 1433


The cloak will fix at the neck with a metal clasp, on a tablet-woven band to provide extra room. These items will not be worked by the Worshipful Company of Broiderers, but by other artisans in the Kingdom. A more detailed design will be prepared for these elements, in conjunction with the artisans.


The cloak will be used for ceremonial purposes, rather than for warmth and must be both beautiful and robust.

The cloak will be made of green silk brocade, which matches the 16thc Sterrenmantle and be light to transport. In order to make it easy to put on and take off, the cloak will be lined in fine silk. 

The medallions and border motifs will be embroidered using gold twist, laid double, couched down with silk. The laurel wreaths and elements of the star medallions will be highlighted with appliqued gold silk under the couched gold.


The production will be managed in a similar fashion to the Pelican cloak.  The individual motifs will be prepared as approximately 60 kits, with the fabric (marked with the design) and gold twist supplied, along with detailed instructions.  Embroiderers will supply their own silk couching thread.  The pieces will be offered to the Order of the Laurel as well as the Worshipful Company of Broiderers.

The cloak can be completed in anticipation of the embroidered sections.  The medallions are spread across the cloak as a semé and can be added in any sequence, so the cloak can be used as soon as an aesthetical design can be achieved. Although it would be ideal to get all the edge sections applied before use, they could also be added afterwards.