The Cardigan (a very short history)

Here at Cabbages we’re not shy about how much we like to be cosy, warm and well insulated.  With a wide range of gorgeous knitwear in our current collection, we started thinking about the word ‘cardigan’ and where it had come from.  After a particularly confusing conversation with some lovely Afrikaans friends on a trip to South Africa last year, I discovered that cardigan isn’t a word every English speaking country is familiar with.  As it turns out, it in fact has specifically British roots…

Originally a knitted waistcoat, the cardigan was popularised by James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan from 1837 until his death in 1868.  An immaculately dressed gentleman of questionable repute, once back on English soil he boasted about his endeavours in the battle of Balaclava (sounds unbelievable but is absolutely true!) exaggerating his bravery somewhat and as a result, receiving rather enthusiastic adulation.  At the time, local merchants were eager to monopolise on his new found acclaim, and sold portraits of the Earl sporting the woollen garment.   Becoming extremely fashionable as a result, it was later named in the Earl’s honour.  Unfortunately for him however, his egotistical hyperbole gradually became apparent and his reputation as a soldier was increasingly tarnished (oblivious to this, he allegedly carried on as usual with a rather blinkered outlook!)  He is, however, still historically notorious for his impeccable style, demanding in his later military leadership that his entire cavalry be meticulously dressed. 

Without wanting to totally discredit the man responsible for one of our favourite winter warmers, he is also reputed to have been extremely generous and loyal to his men when they were in need – a brighter side to a chap that was otherwise a bit of a character.  I wonder if he would approve of our selection of fine English apparel…


Love, Holly x

PS. The image of the Earl of Cardigan is credited to

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