Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

green-art - 6/15/91


"Lincoln Green" by Sandra Sardeson. The dyeing and history of Lincoln Green.


NOTE: See also the files: dyeing-msg, mordants-msg, dye-list-art, felting-msg, textiles-msg, linen-msg, looms-msg, weaving-msg, color-a-fab-bib.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: TACON019 at ysub.ysu.edu (Fred Ullom)

Date: 15 Jun 91 21:08:09 GMT

Organization: Youngstown State University VM system (YSUB)


The following article may be of interest to those of you discussing the

color green.




Fred S. Ullom

tacon019 at ysub.ysu.edu

Youngstown State University



LINCOLN GREEN by Sandra Sardeson


(Reprinted without permission from The Journal for Weavers, Spinners,

and Dyers, Vol. 158, April 1991.)


The name and fame of Lincoln Green has lived long after it ceased to

be manufactured, thanks to Robin Hood and his merry men of Sherwood

Forest. 'When they were clothed in Lyncolne grene they kest away their

gray' comes from A LYTELL GESTE OF ROBYN HODE circa 1510. In his

FAIRIE QUEEN Edmund Spenser (circa 1552-99) has the lines 'All in a

woodman's jacket he was clad of Lincolne Greene, belay'd with silver

lace.' Michael Drayton (1563-1631) wrote 'Swains in shepherd's gray

and girls in Lincolne greene.' The latter added a marginal note

'Lincolne anciently dyed the best greene of England' suggesting that

Lincoln Green was very much a thing of the past even by the early

seventeenth century.


The recorded evidence for Lincoln Green production is very sparse and

fragmentary. Sir Francis Hill's classic work MEDIEVAL LINCOLN, which

has recently been reprinted after a gap of twenty-five years (it was

first published in 1948) took twenty years to produce and it contains

what few references are available.


Lincoln scarlet was the most expensive (scarlet signifying the cloth

originally, not the colour). In 1198 the Sheriff of Lincoln bought

ninety ells (about 112 yards) of scarlet cloth for L30 although the

cloth was a finely finished high quality fabric it seems almost

certain that its high price was due mainly to the extremely costly

dye-stuff 'greyne' (graine) from Kermes or scarlet grain, a small

insect resembling that which provides the dye cochineal.


In 1182 the Sheriff of Lincoln bought:

        Scarlet at 6s 8d/ell

        Green (or fine cloth) at 3s/ell

        Blanchet also at 3s/ell

        Gray at approximately 1s 8d/ell

        (an ell is about equal to a yard.)

(This information is derived from the archives of the Pipe Roll



Lincoln green was therefore the middle grade or quality of cloth

produced. It was first dyed blue with woad and then overdyed yellow

with either weld or dyers' greenweed. Woad was grown commercially in

Lincolnshire for hundreds of years, certainly from Elizabethan times,

when its cultivation was encouraged to depress importation. Claxby, in

Lincolnshire, was a centre of cultivation during that time and later

durning the reign of James 1 at Wykeham Grange near Spalding. It was

grown in the Fens as recently as 1938 but after this cultivation was

not continued when Skirbeck Woad Mill ceased production.


In this century the importation of indigo, which produced a better

stronger blue less expensively, contributed to the demise of woad

cultivation although, after 1878 and the invention of artificial

indigo, the crop had become less commercially viable. 'Blanchet' cloth

may have been dyed a pale blue using woad, or this could have been

bleached, although there is little evidence of bleaching at this early

date. This is in contrast to, for instance, gray which was undyed and

intended for everyday use.


Prior to the Middle Ages cloth production was a domestic industry at

the level of that which we would today describe as 'cottage' but after

this time increasingly it became urbanised resulting in greater

yardage production. By 1216 three textile craft guilds were

established in Lincoln - the Weaver', Dyers', and Fullers' guilds.

Collectively these produced the high quality scarlet cloth, Lincoln

green, and Lincoln gray. In 1813, Arthur Young, that prodigious writer

on all agricultural matters, noted that woad was being cultivated for

export to the manufactories of Yorkshire and Lancaster although by

this time the production of Lincoln green had ceased many years



In 1984 to coincide with the important exhibition 'Lincoln comes of

age - 21 hundred years of Lincoln's history' Lincoln scarlet, green

and gray were again produced to resemble the original textiles.


*** end of article ***


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org