Concealed shoes

People often hid old boots and shoes in chimneys and walls to bring good luck to their houses and to ward off evil spirits.

 

  • The shoes are always worn out.
  • Very often there is only one shoe.
  • Many of the shoes are for children.
  • The shoes were often put in place when building work was being done to the house.
  • It may be that if the workmen found a shoe they replaced it with a new offering, or put the old shoe back together with a new one?

  • No one knows when and how this habit began.
  • The earliest shoes we know of were put in place about 1500.
  • Shoes seem to have had a special significance.
  • A shoe is the only item of clothing which takes on the shape of the person wearing it.
  • A single worn shoe was hidden so that a malevolent spirit could not steal it and  take away the protection the shoe gave.

 

Today people renovating old buildings sometimes come across ‘concealed shoes’.  The finds are very important because they show us what ordinary people were wearing on their feet hundreds of years ago.

 
We keep a concealed shoe index here at the museum
 
At the moment the index stands at approximately 1,900 entries from all over the U.K and also records concealed shoe finds in North America, Canada, and a number of countries in Europe including France, Spain and Poland.

 We are always keen to add people’s shoe finds to the index. Information we like to know if possible is:

 

Address of building

Date of the building if known and date of any alterations / building work

What the building was / is such as a private house, pub, farm etc

Where it was found within the building?

What if anything else was found with it?

Description of the footwear

Date of the footwear

Images of the footwear.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Concealed shoes

  1. We recently found a child’s shoe in a farm building we are converting. The building dates from the late 1800s. I have photos of the shoe but can’t work out how to attach these.

  2. Hello,
    I am from Germany, Zweibrücken in Rhineland Palatinate between Saarbrücken and Kaiserslautern. I am renovating a house which was build in 1903. The workers found a pair of shoes in the 2nd floor between the wall and the roof. As a collector of anique objects I took the shoes for fun… now, after reading this article, I think this story has a deeper meaning for me. I cleaned the shoes and first I was convinced that the workers which had build the wall wanted to get rid of their old shoes. But now I think that it could be the first houselords who took these shoes into the wall. The making of the shoes is very luxurious, meaning that they are made of good materials. It is an pair of size 40, obviously for woman and a single one size 44 for men. The shoes are very used, because there are holes in the bottom and the leather was repaired several times by shoemaker. The shoes are now in a very good condition and I think I will give them back “to to house” when the works are done. After reading your article I think this will be the best…even when I am not supersticious at all – sometimes.

    I would be greatful to hear from an expert, what he is thinking about this.

    Thank you very much in advance.
    Philippe Utzinger
    Zweibrücken, Germany

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