The History Of Marquees: Marquee Magic

outdoor marquee setup

It’s strange to think about the origin of things that have always been a constant in our lives. Christmas, camping and toasting with a ‘cheers’ are just some of these instances, as well as celebrating in a marquee. For many of us fortunate enough to have early and recent memories in a beautiful and inviting marquee, you may be interested to know how the marquee came to be. So, where did they come from and at what time did they become such an integral part of outdoor celebrations in Australia and beyond? Let’s take a dive into the history of marquees.

Firstly, what does ‘marquee’ mean and why?

Marquees, or a variation of them, have been used in centuries and cultures across the globe. The notion of pitching fabric to provide shelter or create a private space can be seen in history books and heard in ancient tales. The word ‘marquee’ was derived from the French word ‘marquise’, and while they may not be the first adopters, they are responsible for the namesake that we all know today. Marquise means a large linen tent with a canopy and was named as such in the 1600s by French soldiers. That’s right, the marquees that have hosted those tearful ceremonies and wild receptions, actually have significant ties to battle. If you cast your mind to some of the movies and TV shows you have seen that feature a battle, it’s typically inside a marquee that those last moments of courage and plotting take place. This is likely quite different from your experience inside a marquee!

Let’s fast-forward slightly

Depending on who you ask, America and England adopted the word and function of a marquise, either in the 1700s or the 1900s. Regardless of when this happened, the word changed to drop the plural, making it ‘marquee’ as we now know it today. Before long, the marquee was a permanent fixture of any gala, feast and extravagant outdoor event. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the English have a greater claim to the marquee than the French, as many royal events have taken place in a marquee (think games of Polo and afternoon tea). Even today, our selection of traditional and black marquees are still associated with this luxury and indulgence. Could this be a result of the history of the marquee, or has this come from the open and alluring nature of the marquee that people have come to this conclusion on their own? We think it’s a combination of both. Marquees have a rich history, and with the popularity they have enjoyed in the modern era, they will set the scene for many more iconic memories that will last the ages.

At Marquee Monkeys, we are pleased to play a small part in the past, present and future of the marquee. We’ve had the blessed fortune of being a part of many special days, and look forward to providing gorgeous, quality marquees to our future clients. We don’t know too much about French wartime, but if you would like to learn more about our marquee selection, contact our Marquee Monkey team on 1300 934 414.

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