You will ask what the heck do Clumbers and bowler hat have in common? But there is a deep historical connection.

Before 1850 Game Keepers in Britain, wore top hats. Top hats were very tall (often cumbersome) and were a wonderful way of displaying their profession and it became a sign of authority. It was their way of saying I am a gamekeeper. Big estates had many gamekeeper and under-game keepers.

Many keepers walked or rode horseback on their regular patrols. The hat told the casual passerby they were encountering a Gamekeeper it also told a poacher they had been caught.

The top hats caught on low and high branches as well it made the gamekeepers an easy target for the dishonest that wanted to take a shot at the unfortunate man. Many keepers died under mysterious circumstances.

In the mid 1800s, some pinpoint it as 1850; the top hat had become too cumbersome. It was suggested the top hat was too awkward for work in the forest. A committee headed by a titled earl went to a hat making company and asked for another hat to be made. It had to be very strong, still have a brim and still be a solemn colour in keeping with the gamekeeper authority. The criterion was it was not to be as tall, a much more manageable height.

When the prototype arrived, made of felted rabbit, it was tested! It was jumped on, battered, tossed in the air and even run over with a horse and buggy. (No one mentions giving it the Clumber test). The hat was resilient and returned to original shape. Over a period of time it was totally embraced by all gamekeepers.

It was such a great looking hat it slowly became a male fashion statement. It went from being a masculine, outdoors symbol, to being worn by dandies and fops, bankers and barristers. It was called a Bowler because of the name of the manufacturer. Today it is called a Derby or Bowler. It is worn on formal occasions, and by the women of Peru.

In a recent journey and meeting with a gamekeeper in England he was more inclined to wear a peaked cap.

A few of the estates which had a large number of gamekeepers historically also owned and hunted with Clumbers.

My family has a long history of being gamekeepers and I have pictures of them in the new bowler style.=