Shoe of the Month – Women’s Shoe 1640-1650

Women’s Shoe 1640-1650

Shoes from the 1590s and the beginning of the seventeenth century are rare survivors. This womens’ shoe is an example from 1640 – 1650. The latchet style and a ribbon or leather cord would have been threaded through the latchet holes to keep the shoe on. It has a reasonably high wooden heel covered in leather. It would have been hand sewn and because it is a concealed shoe it has been well worn and shows signs of repair. Concealed shoes are an item of footwear deliberately hidden in buildings.

Shoemaking was making its mark in contemporary society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as illustrated by The Shoemaker’s Holiday – a romantic comedy written by Thomas Dekker probably in 1599. Dekker’s play reflected the new interest in shoemaking, which was one of the most important trades at this time replacing England’s woollen trade. The truly beautiful alum tanned shoes with exquisitely fine cut work, pinking and razed patterns of the late Elizabethan and early seventeenth century are fine examples of the shoemaker’s craft and skill.

Women's Shoe 1640-1650

Women’s Shoe 1640-1650

The Shoemaker’s Holiday is currently being performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Strafford until 7 March 2015. The director, Philip Bream and the movement and stage designer came to visit the Shoe Collection at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery for more inspiration and to look at shoes and discuss the shoe trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

To find out more about The Shoemaker’s Holiday go to


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