Make your own Georgian paper hat

A pair of soft toys wearing paper hats

William Wordsworth was born in Wordsworth House 250 years ago on 7 April 1770. The only object known to have survived from the childhood he shared here with his beloved sister Dorothy is her tiny hand-stitched baby bonnet.

Why not celebrate his birthday by making and decorating a bonny paper bonnet or cool bicorn hat of your own?

A baby bonnet worn by Dorothy Wordsworth on display at Wordsworth House
A baby bonnet worn by Dorothy Wordsworth on display at Wordsworth House
A baby bonnet worn by Dorothy Wordsworth on display at Wordsworth House

Simply follow the instructions, referring to the pictures as you go.

To make a bonnet

1. Draw a template on a piece of leftover wallpaper or other thick paper, following the measurements on the picture below – this is a job for a grown-up or a big brother or sister. (For teenage and adult-sized heads, scale up the measurements accordingly.)

Draw a template following these measurements
A template to make a paper bonnet
Draw a template following these measurements

2. Cut it out and decorate using whatever you have to hand – pieces of fabric, wool, feathers or ribbon, coloured pens, pencils or paints. You might even want to show your support for the NHS by colouring it like a rainbow.

Cut out the bonnet template
A cut-out template for a paper bonnet
Cut out the bonnet template

When William grew up, he wrote a poem that says:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man.’

Decorate using fabric, wool, feathers or ribbon
A bonnet template decorated with ribbons
Decorate using fabric, wool, feathers or ribbon

3. Fold in the tabs (marked on the picture) and tape or glue them to the straight edge to make an arch shape. Your bonny bonnet is ready to wear!

Fold in the tabs and tape or glue them to the straight edge
Constructing a paper bonnet
Fold in the tabs and tape or glue them to the straight edge

To make a bicorn

1. Cut a piece of paper 56cm long by 38cm wide and fold it in half across the width. Again, wallpaper – or wrapping paper – works well. Lightly fold in half again to mark the centre line.

Cut a piece of paper 56cm long by 38cm wide and fold it in half
A piece of folded paper
Cut a piece of paper 56cm long by 38cm wide and fold it in half

2. Fold the top (folded) corners down, leaving a short flat edge in the middle at the top. Stick the edges down with tape.

Fold the top (folded) corners down, leaving a short flat edge in the middle
A piece of paper with folded corners
Fold the top (folded) corners down, leaving a short flat edge in the middle

3. Fold the bottom of the front sheet up. Turn the whole thing over and do the same on the other side.

Fold the bottom of the front sheet up, turn over and repeat
A piece of folder paper
Fold the bottom of the front sheet up, turn over and repeat

4. Trim the edges to any shape you want, being careful not to cut the hat itself, then decorate using coloured pens, pencils, paints and feathers, ribbons or anything else you fancy.

Carefully trim the edges, then decorate in any way you like
A paper hat decorated with feathers and flowers
Carefully trim the edges, then decorate in any way you like
Your bonny bicorn is ready for you or a friend to wear
A toy panda wearing a paper hat
Your bonny bicorn is ready for you or a friend to wear