The Robes of Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone LC

Rt Hon Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone KG, CH (formerly Quintin McGarel Hogg QC) (1907-2001) was a major figure in British politics.  In the last half of the 20th Century, he held many ministerial offices.  He was twice Lord Chancellor, from 1970-1974 in the government of Edward Heath, and from 1979 to 1987 in the government of Margaret Thatcher.  His father, the first Viscount of Hailsham (formerly Sir Douglas McGarel Hogg KC) (1872 to 1950) was himself Lord Chancellor, from 1928 to 1929, in the government of Neville Chamberlain and again from 1935 to 1938.


Lord Hailsham’s family has generously loaned his robes and other personal memorabilia to the exhibition.  Exhibiting the robes has been made possible by the generosity of a large number of private donors, many of whom have personal or professional connections with Lord Hailsham (including academic and professional bodies, and Judges and Queen’s Counsel whom he appointed). 


The robes and memorabilia on display were all Lord Hailsham’s own with the exception of the bench wig which was kindly supplied by Ede & Ravenscroft.


Within the display cabinet you will find the following items:

 The State Robe of the Lord Chancellor

The magnificent black and gold robe which is worn by the Lord Chancellor on state occasions dates back in its present form to the seventeenth century, though a damask gown with lace is shown on the effigy of Sir Thomas Bromley (d.1579) in Westminster Abbey, and a miniature of Sir Christopher Hatton (d.1591) shows a black gown with gold lace on the sleeves on: both were Lord Chancellors to Queen Elizabeth I.  Similar gowns are has been worn by a number of senior judges (most noticeably members of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal), and other high officers of state such as the Speakers of the House of Commons and House of Lords.  Lord Hailsham’s robe, which is made of black Damask and gold thread, was originally made for and worn by his father. It was worn with a full bottom wig, a court coat and breeches, silk stockings and court shoes.  The court shoes here are unique.  They were especially made for Lord Hailsham himself when in later life his ankles deteriorated.


The Tricorn Hat

The tricorn (three-cornered) hat, was originally part of a well-dressed man’s wardrobe in the 18th century.  It became and remained part of the state dress for the Lord Chancellor.  It was never worn by him when sitting judicially but traditionally was worn when he addressed persons other than a member of the House of Lords (for example, if attending before a Commons committee).  It was worn by him when sitting as a Commissioner to approve legislation on behalf of the Sovereign and when witnessing the introduction of new peers into the House of Lords. 


The Silk Gown of the Lord Chancellor

In addition to his judicial and governmental duties the Lord Chancellor sat as speaker in the House of Lords.  When doing so he wore silk robes similar to those of Queen’s Counsel, worn with the court suit and full-bottomed wig, (never a bench wig).  This gown is one of several that Lord Hailsham owned. 



Traditionally (and still today) robemakers supply black and gold japanned tin boxes to hold robes and wigs.  In particular, a full-bottom wig requires one of two special forms of box.  The boxes exhibited here contained the gold robe and other items shown.


The Walking Sticks

These were Lord Hailsham’s own and bear signs of use by him.


The Full-Bottomed Wig

This wig was purchased by Lord Hailsham’s father at the time he took silk in 1917 and worn by Dame Mary Hogg, a High Court Judge, until she retired from the judiciary in 2016.