Shoe of the Month-The Glass Slipper

The Glass Slipper

Cinderella’s iconic glass slipper is a classic feature in one of the most popular Christmas pantomimes of all time.

This glass slipper is too small for Cinderella but in the nineteenth century, such shoe-shaped items were often used to display flowers and as novelty items. They were fashioned from pressed glass made by steam powered presses.

Glass Slipper

Glass Slipper

Glass maybe the acknowledged material for Cinderella’s shoes but in many versions of the story, Cinderella’s shoes are described as golden.

There was an erroneous story that the slippers of Charles Perrault’s story were not made of glass but of fur. It was thought that the confusion sprang from a mistranslation of the word vair meaning squirrel fur rather than verre meaning glass. In fact the slipper has always been glass in European tradition.

We wish you a shoe-tastic Christmas and a Happy Shoe year.

Shoe of the Month – Joanne Stoker

Joanne Stoker

This fabulous shoe was designed by Joanne Stoker.

Joanne-Stoker Shoe

Joanne-Stoker Shoe

Stoker’s shoes, handmade in England, reflect her passion for art, architecture and travel. These passions are then translated into pieces of art we can all wear every day.

Joanne studied at the renowned Cordwainers College in London where she graduated with a Masters in Footwear Design. Mentored by Jimmy Choo, she soon established her own eponymous shoe brand.

She has an instantly recognisable signature – sculptural and architectural heels reflecting her love of cubism and her obsession with architecture. Her shoes would definitely make you stand out in the crowd.

We are always delighted to add shoes designed by contemporary shoe designers to our ever expanding shoe collection.



Shoe of the Month – Child’s Leather Polish Kierpce Shoes

Shoe of the Month – Child’s Leather Polish Kierpce Shoes

Child's Leather Polish Kierpce Shoes

Child’s Leather Polish Kierpce Shoes

These traditional Polish shoes have an 18th Century style design known as Kierpce. They are made from one piece of cowhide and handcrafted by individuals of the Górale tribe, from the southern mountainous region of Poland, who are famous as expert craftsmen in leather and wood. The Górale footwear is specifically designed to be comfortable in both flat and mountainous terrain.

This pair of handmade children’s brown leather Kierpce moccasin style shoes have a bar strap fasten with metal buckles. They have been decorated with fire branding and are hand-embroidered whipstitch around the toe in traditional Polish designs.

These shoes were donated in 2012 by a local resident, Kate, who bought them for her three year old daughter during a trip home to Poland. Kate has been volunteering with the Virtually Shoes Project and got a lovely surprise when she unpacked the shoes she had donated to the museum.

Kate said: “These shoes are every day for me, I have bought lots. It will be exciting to take my daughter to see her shoes on display in the shoe galleries at Northampton Museum.”

These shoes, which are part of the World Footwear Collection, have now been photographed from eight different angles and will be included in the online Virtually Shoes database when it launches in Spring 2016.

If you would like to volunteer with the Virtually Shoes Project then please visit the volunteer opportunities page.

Shoe of the Month – On the Stage

On the Stage

These amazing black leather boots belonged to Kathleen Gregory, who in the late 1930s trained as a dancer with Betty Fox and Helena Lehmiski in her home town of Birmingham. Just after the outbreak of World War Two, at the age of sixteen, she began her stage career as a dancer and chorister in musical comedy, pantomimes, revues and variety shows.

It is unknown exactly when she acquired the Big Boots or when she learned and initially performed the special dance in them; however the photograph of Kathie wearing them can be dated 1939-1941.

She often referred to the boots as her Little Tich boots as there was an old variety music hall act by a man of that name. Throughout the war years Kathie performed in shows which toured the UK, the company moving en masse by train from one town to another.

Big Boots

Big Boots

The dancers and choristers were not named individually on the programmes, but acknowledged as The Lehmiski Ladies, John Tiller’s Girls and The Danetree Girls. The Flying Ballet was another speciality in which Kathie performed. Kathie performed in Northampton at The New Theatre in The Arcadians July 9th – 15th 1944 and The Desert Song April 8th – 14th and again 21st – 27th 1947. Kathie married in 1948 and continued to perform in shows in Birmingham and in South Wales until family life made it unfeasible.


Shoe of the Month – Beaded Boot

It’s all in the detail.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is always keen to collect footwear from new and contemporary shoe designers, and so was delighted to welcome  this stunning boot to its collection.

Laura Risbridger graduated from De Montford University in Leicester with a degree in Footwear Design (BA Hons). She has since gone on to work with designers and shoemakers  in the UK and in Germany working on handmade shoes.

This boot was designed as part of a small collection put together in 2010 that was inspired by a fascination for old Romanian gypsy culture and their love of decorative embellishment.

The boot has thousands of tiny glass and Swarovski beads that were all individually hand appliquéd on to the leather upper, which  took over 100 hours to complete.

Beaded Boot

Beaded Boot

Laura said: “This technique  is something I love to do, really bringing back the glamour and art of the old shoemakers who created one off, beautiful couture shoes. Keeping alive the craftsmanship of shoemakers before with modern techniques and design is both a privilege and a pleasure.”


Shoe of the Month – Wellington’s Waterloo

Wellington’s Waterloo

Today the word ‘wellington’ is used to describe a waterproof rubber boot worn for work or leisure. However it originally referred to a new shape of leather boot that was named after the military Commander Arthur Wellesley. A celebrated hero, Wellesley became the first Duke of Wellington and won many victories against the French during the Napoleonic Wars – most famously the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

Wellington was renowned for his interest in good-quality footwear, and was often shown wearing hessian boots. In The Soldiers’ Feet and Footgear, Captain Cecil Webb-Johnson notes: “Wellington, when asked the most important part of a soldier’s equipment, replied ‘Firstly, a pair of good shoes, secondly a pair of good shoes, and thirdly a pair of half-soles’.” (1913)

George Hoby, bootmaker to St James’s Palace, London, made Wellington’s boots. Bata Shoe Museum is in possession of a letter from Wellington to Hoby that highlights how difficult it must have been to make them fit correctly. Two pairs of new boots ordered and received get the following response: “The boots you sent me were still too small in the calf of the leg and about an inch and a half short of the leg.” So close-fitting was the wellington that one needed boot jacks to pull the boots off.

Queen Victoria once asked the Duke of Wellington what type of boots he was wearing. “People call them wellingtons, ma’am”, he said. “How absurd”, commented the Queen, replying, “Where, I should like to know, would they find a pair of wellingtons?” She obviously thought he was unique.

These delightful wellingtons have a stunning red morocco leather leg and date to the 1860s.


Wellingtons, 1860s

Wellingtons, 1860s



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.