The History of the Chatelaine


I have decided to write a little piece on the Chatelaine as I come across these charming pieces on my travels and I am always so intrigued by them and all the different forms that they take. I am also so fascinated by the history behind them.

Chatelaine is derived from the French word Lady of The Castle. For those of you who are not familiar with the chatelaine they were an object used to hang all different kinds of objects from a persons waist. (most commonly from a ladys dress but men could wear them too and they were hung from their breast pocket) Objects that were hung from a Chatelaine ranged from keys, scent bottles, snuff containers, pocket watches, sewing tools and even medical utensils. A chatelaine meant that you could have the items that you most needed ready to hand. How very convenient! I think I might start wearing one myself!

Chatelaines became very popular and trendy. They were most common from the 16th -18th Centuries. Chatelaines also became a symbol of a persons material wealth and class. A wealthy person would wear an extravagant chatelaine made from precious metals and they would even be adorned with fine gemstones.

Chatelaines were produced by jewellers such as Tiffany & Co, Liberty and Sampson Mordan. Womens dresses did not have pockets and large handbags were not used so this was the perfect solution. Another familiar piece was the wristlet. A wristlet was a small metal purse which has a chain attached to it with a hook to hang from a belt on the waist.

All number of people carried a Chatelaine from mistresses, nurses, maids and even Royalty wore them. Chatelaines lost their popularity when ladies started using larger handbags and wrist watches replaced pocket watches. Chatelaines are such beautiful objects and they are a timeless snap shot of our history.

The History of the Chatelaine