Palatinate (colour)

Palatinate or 'palatinate purple' is a purple colour associated with Durham University and the City of Durham.[3] It is used in the academic dress of Durham University[4] and in the faculties of medicine and law at Newcastle University[5] (being a former college of Durham University).

Official purple defined in Durham University branding guidelines[1][2]

The term has been used to refer to a number of different shades of purple. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a "light purple or lavender colour", which is used for Durham (and Newcastle) academic hoods.[3] For corporate purposes Durham University uses a darker shade.[6]

A separate colour, 'palatinate blue', is derived from the Coat of Arms of the County of Durham.[8] The name 'Palatinate' in both instances alludes to the historic status of Durham as a County Palatine.


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. It was the first 'university colour' adopted by a British university for its academic dress.[9]

C.E. Whiting's history of the university records the following story as being told to him by Revd Charles Whitley, Reader in Natural Philosophy at the University 1833-1854:

An account, written sometime between 1876 and 1896, of Van Mildert's ceremonial entry into County Durham upon his election as bishop in 1826, refers to him wearing "a coat and waistcoat of the Palatinate purple".[11] The scabbard of the civic sword of the City of Durham is described as being "of purple velvet, the colour of the old palatine of Durham".[12]

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".[13]

Colour data

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 used by the university for corporate purposes.

The palatinate purple used for the academic robes is said by Shaw (1966) to be British Colour Council No. 177 "Crocus" from the second (1951) edition of the Dictionary of Colour Standards.[14]

The shade of purple used by Durham University in its corporate branding from 2019 is: RGB: 104, 36, 109; Hex: 68246D.[6] Prior to this, Pantone number 255C; CMYK: 51, 91, 0, 34 RGB:126, 49, 123; Hex: 7E317B was used from 2005 to 2019[15] and a shade closer to plum prior to 2005.[16] The corporate branding prior to 2019 also included a lighter purple, close in appearance to the palatinate silk used in the academic dress, as one of the secondary corporate colours. This is Pantone 257C; CMYK: 15, 38, 0, 0; RGB: 216, 172, 214; Hex: D8ACE0.[15]

Palatinate Blue, used in the Flag of County Durham is: Pantone number 286[17] (equivalent to CMYK: 100%, 66%, 0%, 34%; RGB: 0, 56, 168; Hex: 0038A8[18]).

See also


  1. "Durham University - Colour palette". Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  2. "Pantone 255 C". Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  3. "palatinate purple". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  4. "Academic Dress". Durham University Calendar. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  5. "Academic Dress: Undergraduate Degrees". Newcastle University. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  6. "Identity Guidelines, Version 1.0, February 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  7. "Academic Dress". Durham University Calendar. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  8. Rachel Wearmouth (25 September 2013). "Designs in the running to become County Durham flag". The Journal.
  9. Groves, Nicholas (2003). "Did you know that ...?". Transactions of the Burgon Society. Burgon Society. 3: 63. doi:10.4148/2475-7799.1022.
  10. The University of Durham 1832-1932 by C. E. Whiting, 1932, p.141.
  11. Edward Arthur White (1897). George J. Armitage (ed.). The Baptismal, Marriage and Burial registers of the Cathedral Church of Christ and Blessed Marti the Virgin at Durham 1609–1896. Publications of the Harleian Society. 23. p. 139.
  12. "Civic insignia and Durham Town Hall". Durham County Council. The sword. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  13. "Glasgow Hoods". Glasgow Herald. 26 September 1868. Retrieved 27 November 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. Scott, Elizabeth (2005). "The BCC Numbering System: Back to the Future?". Transactions of the Burgon Society. Burgon Society. 5: 113. doi:10.4148/2475-7799.1043.
  15. "Colour palette". Durham University. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  16. "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
  17. "County Durham". The Flag Institute. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  18. "Pantone - CMYK - RGB conversion". Retrieved 27 November 2015.
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