Fireman’s hat

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Fireman’s hat

This protective helmet is thought to have been used by Exeter firemen during the 17th century, around the same time as the Great Fire of London. It is made from strong, good quality leather with a wide brim to help protect the wearer’s face and neck from flames and falling debris. The hardwearing synthetic materials used in equipment today did not exist, so heavy leather was the most protective material available.

This hat is a very rare survival - only one or two others are known from Britain. At this time there was no national fire brigade, and no standardised equipment. Fire-fighting equipment was commonly stored in parish churches for public use in an emergency.