A formal piece of regalia, displaying the heraldic devices of the Order of the Pelican, within the SCA Kingdom of Lochac.
I completed the research, design and construction for this cloak, but the embroidery was (and continues as) a group project, with many contributors.
As part of the ceremony for the Order of the Pelican in the Kingdom of Lochac, the new member is recognised by being ‘robed as befits a new peer’. For many years, the Order had used a peerage cloak made by Mistress Selivia de l’Estoile in red wool, with small badges of the Order and the Kingdoms of Lochac and the West. The death of Master Everard de Brieuse, an early member of the Order and the first Lochac Pelican to pass on, set me to thinking that it would be good to have a permanent record of the Order in Lochac, in a form that could be used ceremonially.
In April 2008 I put forward a proposition for a new cloak to the Lochac Regalia Council, who were pleased to approve the project. Materials were funded by the Rowany Festival Fighter Auction Fund. The actual cloak construction began in 2009 and included heraldic devices of members elevated up to that time. It has been maintained ever since, with the devices of each new Pelican added to the cloak as they are elevated.
Research and Design
Within the medieval and renaissance period, military and religious orders were marked by a variety of symbols, including chains, badges and cloaks. A cloak for the investiture of a new peer is a historically supportable garment.
There are several examples of extant embroidered cloaks, including ecclesiastical copes. These typically feature a straight front edge, with no shaping at the neck, and all over embroidery, such as the Syon Cope or the Mantle of the Order of the Golden Fleece:
However, it seemed more appropriate to base the cloak on contemporary mantle designs with a scooped neck and a narrow border design, such as the Coronation Mantle and the mantle of the Order of the Dragon:
Many copes and mantles which show a series of motifs in a structured framework, such as The Syon Cope and Mantle of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The motifs are oriented so as to appear upright when the cloak is worn.
The Pelican cloak is laid out in a simple diamond grid, allowing the motifs to be oriented in several directions. The motifs themselves are the heraldic devices of the member of the Lochac Order of the Pelican, in the sequence in which they were elevated.
The examples all show a heavily worked border along the front edge, and many show a border around the entire base of the cloak, often with a diamond motif. This cloak has a diamond patterned border with Pelican and Lochac motifs.
The extant examples are richly embroidered in many techniques, including Opus Anglicanum, Or Nué and underside couching in gold and silk threads. In order to make this possible as a group project, I chose a simpler counted embroidery technique, with each element stitched separately and applied to the cloak. Although not a period practice for such mantles, this gives a rich effect and is practical to implement.
The Cloak was constructed of red wool twill, with machine-applied gold rayon braid to mark the compartments and borders, and a silk lining. Sadly, I did not take any pictures during construction.
I charted the devices for all the member of the Order, worked a sample, then created kits for each device, with a coloured stitch chart, mounted linen canvas and detailed instructions (BYO silk). I posted these out to the many volunteers, who embroidered the pieces in Madeira silk on 20 count linen canvas, using half cross stitch. Each device takes approximately 4-8 hours to complete, depending on complexity.
As the devices were returned, I cut them out, leaving a 4 thread border, and basted this to the back. Then I sewed them onto the cloak in the correct sequence, starting with my own device as the founding member of the Order in this Kingdom.
I embroidered a fine line of gold silk in stem stitch, which connects the devices in sequence and traces the history of the Order in a spiral around the cloak, as it is worn.
Photo: Brooke Perkins
Photo: Gigi La Bella Donna
Since the original production in 2009, I have actively maintained the cloak, charting devices for new members, sending out kits and sewing on the devices.
In 2016 I made a better clasp for the cloak, adapting a Pelican horse brass for the purpose.
As at 2022, the cloak holds over 200 devices, weighs over 3kg and has involved over 1,500 hours of embroidery. At the current rate of expansion of the Order, there is room to add devices for the next decade.
As at 2023, we have filled the main cloak (empty spaces are waiting for people to complete their device), and will now start to add devices to the border.
More information about the project, including pictures of individual devices, can be seen at the website of the Worshipful Company of Broderers of Lochac.