Chimney Sweep And Top Hats – History & Recent Trends

Now, the topic under discussion highlights a particular area of interest for many; chimney sweeps top hats.

Being one of the oldest professions in the world, chimney sweeps are known to have (and still do) provided crucial chimney maintenance services.

It’s no secret at all that chimney sweeps are professionals when it comes to all chimney related maintenance jobs.

A lot has been said about the history and origins of the chimney hat sweep hat and tail.  If you’ve read about these and still want to learn more, you’ll find this article informative and interesting.

Top Hat Chimney Sweep: History

Our discussion about chimney sweeps and top hats won’t be complete without speaking about its origins. Before its advent, chimneys came about as a result of rapid modernization which led to sprawling cities.

Two-story buildings were particularly common then.

An efficient heating method where the smoke was expelled while the heat was enjoyed needed to be developed. This gave birth to the chimney system. Now, chimneys heralded a new era in heating by creating less exposure to heat.

However, users later realized they were faced with a problem. The buildup of soot and creosotes became a real problem for many.

This culminated in the Great London Fires of 1666 which was brought about by creosote ignition. Before then, chimneys were built to be wider.

After the fires, chimney sizes shrunk, which created a problem. It meant that adult chimney sweeps could no longer access chimneys due to their sizes. The solution then was to use children for such dangerous jobs.

As expected, this action took its toll on the kid’s health.

Different Accounts On Chimney Sweep Hats

From this point, there are varying or conflicting stories about how chimney sweep top hats came about.

Some accounts of its origins point to the emergence of chimney top hats as a gift from royalty while others have a different story relating to hand-downs.

It becomes unclear where exactly this tradition came about. However, one thing is common; chimney sweeps and top hats are known to have survived several centuries.

To have an idea about what these stories tell, let’s take a look at both accounts.

  • Gift From Royalty

This account tells quite a different story when compared to the hand-down account. It begins in the 18th century when King George was taking a ride on his royal horse. Now, he encountered a barking dog which never relented.

This action agitated the horse which was about causing common, but for the intervention of a chimney sweep.

The chimney sweep got hold of the reins and steadied the agitated horse. Of course, the king was thankful and showed his appreciation by bestowing on the sweep the symbol of the gentry.

This was a hat that signified luck. According to the king’s statement, chimney sweeps were to be lucky from then on. The account has it that chimney sweep top hats began to be popular with chimney sweeps from then on.

  • Hand-Downs

The hand-down account is completely different from the first.

Here, it involved funeral directors taking pity on kids used as chimney sweeps. This tradition started much earlier in the 17th century. This action of hand-me-downs was considered a gesture that served as a morale-booster.

Plus, it also gave them a feeling of self-worth. It’s a sad reality that lots of kids died from a variety of health complications arising from exposure to soot and creosotes.

Although the practice of forcefully using kids as chimney sweeps has thankfully ended, the several mentions of kids in various accounts lend credence to its origins.

Are Chimney Sweep Top Hats and Tails Phased Out?

It’s interesting to note that despite its long origins, chimney sweep top hats and tails are still worn by modern-day chimney sweeps.

While the reasons for wearing top hats and tails by chimney sweeps remains a mystery, it’s evident that this has been widely adopted as a sort of uniform.

Handshakes From Chimney Sweeps Was Considered Good Luck

Over the years, people have believed and held on to several myths. One of them had to do with the good luck one got when shaking hands with a chimney sweep.

Unfortunately, the young and mostly orphan apprentice boys who were used and abused by their masters during the 1600s and earlier never shared in this honor.

This is a solemn reality and wake-up call to the injustices that had existed and continue to exist in human societies. Thankfully, the practice of using these kids as slaves was legislated upon and prohibited.

Top Hats Still Remain Stylish

One of the reasons chimney sweeps still put on top hats and tails as uniforms are because such clothing remains stylish. You’re likely to have come across or seen a chimney sweep putting on such paraphernalia.

Now that you know the origins of chimney sweeps and top hats, you’re able to better appreciate the long history of the profession. This is even more solemn when you consider the fact that a lot of kids died in the line of duty due to exposure to harmful work conditions.

Leave a Comment