Heritage Crafts

Plume making

Craft category
Historic area of significance
From early Bronze Age worldwide
Area practiced currently
West London, Devon
Origin in the UK
Plumes were worn from the Bronze Age and were at their height in the late 18th Century in Britain.
Current No. of professionals (Main income)
Current No. of professionals (Side income)
Current No. of trainees
Current total No. of serious amateur makers
Current No. of leisure makers
There will be re-enactors and living history enthusiasts making plumes.


Since the first cave man put a feather on his head, plumes have had a significant role in military costume. They are a key element in full dress military parades and inspections by dignitaries and royals, heavy horse decoration, weddings and funerals, and marching bands.

There are still currently around sixty different patterns of plume worn by the British Army.

The hackle is a clipped plume or short spray of coloured feathers that is attached to a military headdress, with different colours being associated with particular regiments. In the British Army and the armies of some Commonwealth countries, the hackle is worn by some infantry regiments, especially those designated as fusilier regiments and those with Scottish and Northern Irish origins.


  • Weaving horse hair
  • Mounting and sewing feathers.


  • Dyeing horse hair and feathers
  • Metal component making

Issues affecting the viability

  • Market issues: Brexit has had an effect on orders with some copies being made overseas and imported by U.K. based uniform makers.
  • Training: There are no established training routes for plume making.
  • Raw materials: Some feathers are subject to concerns around ethical sourcing. Military plumes made today will use feathers that are a by-product of food production and other cruelty-free sources.
  • Loss of skills: There are so few people remaining with the skills that there is significant risk that these skills will not be passed on to the next generation.

Support organisations


Training organisations

There are no formal training options for plume making.

Craftspeople currently known

  • Louis Chalmers, The Plumery – The Plumery manufactures the entire range of the British Armies plumes in humanely gathered horse hair, yak, wool and feather, along with the Lance Cap and supporting metalwork.
  • Jaffé Feathers – Makes feather plumes.

Other information




National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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