BUNTING - WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

We LOVE bunting! We love looking out at our tents, perfectly pitched in their rows bunting waving cheerily in the wind, welcoming our guests as they walk to their tents. Wherever there’s a celebration bunting seems to be there, encouraging smiles and helping to set the tone; birthdays, royal weddings, festivals, football, welcoming heroes home… you name a celebration and we bet there’ll be bunting! But where exactly did it come from?

Various internet sources suggest it to have Naval origins. The word “bunting” originally referred to a specific type of woolen fabric that was used for making ribbon and flags at the beginning of the 17th century, including signal flags for the Royal Navy. Long before satellite and telecommunications were invented flag signalling was used as a way of communication between ships. During the 18th century both the French and British developed coding systems using flags, the French developed a numerary system which the British further developed into an alphabetic system. Each individual flag represents a number, letter or combination of letters; combinations of these are strung together and hoisted up on a rope to convey messages to other ships eg. “I require assistance”, “do not pass ahead of me” or “I require chocolate” (ok, we made the last one up but you get the idea). The Officer in charge of hoisting the signal flags was informally known as a “bunting tosser” or “bunts” for short, a term that’s still used within the services to describe naval signallers today. If you’ve ever attended a regatta or boating event you may have noticed colourful flags adorning the boats, this is known as “dressing overall” and is used mainly for decoration not communication. However, maritime flag codes are still used today, though mainly to communicate messages of safety of navigation and related matters, for example, diving support vessels raise the “A” flag to indicate they have divers under the water so are unable to move.

Quite why and when bunting made the transition from communication tool to festive decor is unclear, but we suspect it’s simply because it looks pretty and makes you smile, which is probably why its now a commonplace interior accessory and not just for celebrations. A quick look on Pinterest and you’ll find a plethora of bunting ideas; rows upon rows of different colours and various shapes, made from every kind of material you can imagine for every kind of setting or celebration you can imagine. Bunting can be especially useful at festivals when rows of colourful bunting not only add cheer to your tent but can also help you recognise your camp in an otherwise indistinguishable sea of tents, which is particularly helpful if you’ve indulged in a few beers or been hitting the gin bar throughout the day!

Whatever its use, we love bunting as the perfect decor for tents; its portable and simple but makes all the difference, like the cherry on top of the icing on the cake, and our tents simply aren’t dressed without it and we encourage its use wholeheartedly!

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