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The origin of the Clerical collar

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Category Articles
Date March 21, 2002

THE ORIGIN OF THE CLERICAL COLLAR

When did Anglican ministers start to wear “dog collars” on a regular basis?

In 1976 the Church of England’s Enquiry Centre produced an A4 sheet concerning the use of the “dog collar” among the clergy. Apparently, it had been invented, they said, quoting the Glasgow Herald of December 6,1894, by the Rev Dr Donald McLeod. Something similar, the Roman collarino, dated, perhaps, from the 17th century. The Oxford Movement of the 19th century led to the adoption by many Anglican clergy of a clerical collar, certainly by the time of the First World War. A reaction began in the late 1960s, especially among evangelical Anglicans, who returned to lay neckwear, as had been the normal practice among clergy before the mid-19th century. This was probably due to their rejection of the Roman Catholic doctrine of priesthood. Very few evangelical clergy today wear the “dog collar” except on formal occasions. There is, incidentally, no requirement in canon law for the “dog collar” to be worn. A “middle-of-the-road” clergyman speaking in the late 1950s said that, in wearing a white shirt and white tie, he was being a loyal and traditional Anglican.

The Times, 14th March 2002

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