The Origin of Marquees


The benefits of marquees are endless, from added sophistication and style to protection from the elements. These elegant tent-like structures can turn any ordinary location into an opulent setting. Throughout the history of marquees, there has been very little change in their overall design. These classic structures continue to stand the test of time.

History of Tents

Humans have employed the use of tents since the Iron Age. From Roman soldiers to nomadic peoples, tents have been used to offer protection against the elements, particularly at night. By the 17th Century, light, temporary structures were often erected in order to protect special events, such as banquets or balls, from sunlight or rain. Their placement was typically in the gardens and pleasure grounds of the upper class, an affluent detail that made them seem extravagant in nature. The term pavilion was also used to describe marquee structures during this time period.

Design of Marquee Tents

Also known as a pole tent or pole marquee, the marquee tent originally consisted of a light canvas material draped from a high wooden pole. This resulted in sweeping, sumptuous curves that the modern marquee still features to this day. Hessian ropes were also employed in maintaining the structures. King poles are used to erect modern marquees. These large poles provide the structures with the bulk of their support. Various sized pins, or stakes, are used to maintain the stability of the marquee, fastening it securely to the earth. Additional poles known as side poles or supporting poles provide the pavilion with additional support and shape.

Modern Marquees

Although the canvas tent design remains an available and affordable option, more modern fabrics and poles are also popular today. One popular choice in modern marquee design is the American style pole tent. These tents include the use of PVC covers for durability. Ropes used in American style pole tents are made from nylon, while the actual poles are crafted from heavy duty aluminium. These different materials allow the structures to last much longer, and make them easier to care for in the long run.

Marquee Styles

Traditional weddings, dinners, and other elegant affairs make use of a white or cream-coloured blank canvass that is versatile and functional. Many versatile styles are not only available, but becoming more popular as well. Modern brides may prefer a whimsical teepee or even a Moroccan-style Bedouin design for a lighthearted ceremony. Bright, bold colours can be used for alternative themes, while blackout walls with glow-in-the-dark features create custom designs that are particularly popular for birthdays and celebrations with youthful crowds.  Pagoda styles are even available for an Eastern flair.

Even as they evolve to cater to modern needs and preferences, marquee tents are here to stay. Today’s marquee tents are used for bar mitzvahs, corporate events, anniversaries, weddings and cultural affairs of every flavour.  When event hosts utilize these time-tested structures for their gatherings, they are tapping into a long and successful history of English culture and refinement.