Palatinate (colour)

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Palatinate Purple #7E317B (as associated with the University of Durham)

Palatinate or 'palatinate purple' is a "light purple or lavender" colour associated with Durham University.[1] It is used in the academic dress of Durham University[2] and in the faculties of medicine and law at Newcastle University[3] (being a former college of Durham University). A separate colour, 'palatinate blue', is derived from the Coat of Arms of the County of Durham.[4] The name 'Palatinate' in both instances alludes to the historic status of Durham as a County Palatine. The shade of purple are used for Durham (and Newcastle) academic hoods is different from that used for Durham University's corporate branding.

The Durham BSc hood, "Palatinate silk, bound with white fur, and with a scarlet band half-an-inch wide next to the fur".[5]


It is likely that the choice of purple as the University's colour relates to the key role played by the Bishop of Durham in the foundation of the University (purple being an episcopal colour), as well as to the unique historical status of Bishops of Durham as Palatine Earls. The following story, recounted in Whiting's history of the University of Durham, purports to explain precisely how this shade of purple came to be adopted as the University colour. (Whiting himself had heard it from a Canon Whitley, who had been Reader in Natural Philosophy during the early years of the University's existence (1833–55).)

"When the colour of the MA hood was discussed by Senate, he [Whitley] had proposed black and amber, but was outvoted on the grounds that people would call it 'Durham Mustard', a reference to the mustard factory then in existence in the city, and possibly to the popular saying that Durham was famous for 'old maids and mustard'. Mr Telfair, university tailor, afterwards produced a piece of a purple coat which had been worn by Bishop Van Mildert, and this colour was adopted for the MA hood."[6]

In the mid-19th century, the University tailor referred to the colour used in the hoods as Palatinate Blue, despite it being "really a sort of purple".[7]

Colour data[edit]

The following data are somewhat open to question; in particular, the precise colour of palatinate purple used by the University varies a good deal. Its most long-established usage is in the University's academic dress and sporting colours, both of which use a significantly paler shade than that specified below. The shade of "palatinate purple" used in the corporate branding was changed in 2005 as part of the University's rebranding exercise.[8]

  • Palatinate purple – The current shade of purple used by Durham University in its corporate branding is: Pantone number 255C; CMYK: 51, 91, 0, 34; RGB:126, 49, 123; Hex: 7E317B.[9]
  • Palatinate blue – The colour blue used in the Flag of County Durham is: Pantone number 286[10] (equivalent to CMYK: 100%, 66%, 0%, 34%; RGB: 0, 56, 168; Hex: 0038A8[11]).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "palatinate purple". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Academic Dress". Durham University Calendar. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "Academic Dress: Undergraduate Degrees". Newcastle University. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Rachel Wearmouth (25 September 2013). "Designs in the running to become County Durham flag". The Journal. 
  5. ^ "Academic Dress". Durham University Calendar. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  6. ^ The University of Durham 1832-1932 by C. E. Whiting, 1932, p.141.
  7. ^ "Glasgow Hoods". Glasgow Herald. 26 September 1868. Retrieved 27 November 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ "University Hoody". Retrieved 27 November 2015. Please note that this purple reflects the University's current brand of purple, which came into effect in 2005. Pre-2005 Alumni may prefer the American Lettering Hoody in Plum which is closer to the purple brand used at that time 
  9. ^ "Communications Office : Colour palette - Durham University". 
  10. ^ "County Durham". The Flag Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  11. ^ "Pantone - CMYK - RGB conversion". Retrieved 27 November 2015.