Shoe of the Month – JH Design Studio

Our Shoe Digitisation Project involves taking images of all our shoes and we are unearthing some wonderful examples including this delightful shoe by JH Design Studio from the 1970s.

JH Design Studio T Bar Shoe

JH Design Studio T Bar Shoe

You would certainly step into spring in style wearing this suede T Bar with striking sun motif.

Shoes can be practical, they can be truly fabulous and in the 70s they could almost be pieces of art. The 70s saw a passionate fascination with shoes as sculptural forms, a little tongue in cheek but always playful and fun. Some could still be worn though others were purely decorative.

Shoe of the Month – Great Exhibition Boots

Great Exhibition Boots

These fantastic Wellington boots were made for The Great Exhibition of 1851. They are made from beige and black leather. They have a wide flat square toe. The front of the leg is decorated with an appliqué design of black leather and coloured silk -now missing – of a crown, national emblems, crosses, starts and a scalloped border.

They were handmade by John N Hefford of Derby. The stitching on the boots is so fine that there are 53 stitches to the inch. They won a prize medal at the Great Exhibition.

Great Exhibition Boots

Great Exhibition Boots

Shoemakers were craftsmen. They had served an apprenticeship to learn their trade and were proud of their skills. Special boots and shoes were made for exhibitions starting with the Great Exhibition of 1851. They were full sized shoes and all show a high quality of standard and workmanship.

Shoe of the Month – Shoes with Stories

Shoes with Stories

These beautiful shoes were designed and made by Hetty Rose.

Henrietta Rose Grogan graduated from the London College of Fashion with a degree in Footwear Design & Development (Cordwainers). She worked for footwear designer Georgina Goodman on an industrial placement for a year and has worked in London and Italy for handmade shoe companies.

Hetty’s collection is based on the practice of re-using and re-working vintage materials in a creative and sustainable way, hand making gorgeous, feminine shoes to fit. She primarily uses vintage Japanese kimono fabrics: relics of a disappearing world, saturated in significance and hidden meanings. The colours and folds signify various seasons, occasion, status and the personal taste of the wearer.

Hetty Rose Shoe

Hetty Rose Shoe

You too could make a stunning pair of shoes like these or a pair of ballet pumps as Hetty is holding a shoe making workshop at Northampton Museum in March and in July.

The designs are simple, yet provocative, designed to make the foot appear more attractive. The collaboration of colours, materials, service and directional design result in unique, wearable footwear.

Find out more about our Shoe Making workshop by going to our website

Shoe of the Month – “Maria” Children’s Shoes

“Maria” Children’s Shoes

It is The British Heart Foundation Wear Red Day on 6th February and Valentine’s Day on the 14th.

To mark these occasions, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery are delighted to have received a donation of a pair of stunning red “Maria” children’s shoes by design house Vevian.

This classic patent leather shoe with a bow ribbon fastening comes in a beautifully handcrafted wooden shoes box and is one of their most popular styles.

Maria Children's Shoes by Vevian

Maria Children’s Shoes by Vevian

These will be on display  at the museum this month. To find out our opening times please go to our website

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

Shoe of the Month – Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

These clogs are very special. They were given to the donor’s father by a Dutch family who befriended him during the Second World War. He was in the Army and travelled through France, Holland, Germany and Belgium 1944 – 1945

Clogs are very significant in Holland and are used to celebrate St Nicholas’s Day on December 6. Before they go to bed on St Nicholas’s Eve, some Dutch children still put out their clogs, hoping St Nicholas will fill them with presents by the morning. They also fill the clogs with straw or hay and a carrot as a treat for the Saint’s white horse.

When they wake in the morning, if they have been good the food is gone and sweets and toys are in its place. If they have misbehaved and been bad over the year, the carrot and straw remain and there are no presents, but a cane! Black Peter, a mischievous imp who carries a bundle of canes for use on naughty children, leaves the cane. So remember to be good this year.

Dutch Clogs

Dutch Clogs

Shoe of the Month – First World War Centenary Boots

First World War Centenary Boots

These ‘boots’ were made by artist Val Goldfinch. They were inspired by the centenary of the First World War. The first ‘boot’ is made from an old last and a map of Northamptonshire representing where it would have been made. During the First World War 70 million pairs of boots and shoes were made for the UK’s Forces and allies, with just under 40 million being made in Northampton and the County 

Val Goldfinch First World War Boot

Val Goldfinch First World War Boot

The other ‘boot’ represents its use in the trenches. The last has been built up and the boot is lined with a reproduction trench map and the bootlace has turned into barbed wire and is ‘Battle Scarred’

Val Goldfinch First World War Boot 'Battle Scarred'

Val Goldfinch First World War Boot ‘Battle Scarred’