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The concealed revealed

The concealed shoe index

child, concealed, lace, 1700-25

Child's leather lace shoes, 1700-25. Found behind the fireplace of a house near Guildford when it was demolished in the 1960s

The concealed index

In the 1950s Miss June Swann, former Keeper of the Boot and Shoe Collection at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery noticed that footwear was being regularly brought in for both identification and donation that had been found in unusual locations within buildings. Locations included up chimneys, within roof spaces and walls and under floorboards. It was happening too frequently for it to be ignored so to try to explain why shoes should be found in non-accidental locations she began to record all finds to gather the data to try to eventually explain this phenomenon.

By 1969, Miss Swann had recorded 129 finds which had totalled 700 by 1986. Miss Swann retired in 1988 but Northampton Museum and Art Gallery continued to keep the concealed shoe find register and we still do today. Currently it stands at 2,000 specific find locations with nearly 3,000 individual shoes listed.

We receive three or four new entries each month so this is a rapidly expanding resource that is regularly used by both UK and international researchers.

Working in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, we developed a template of information to be captured for the index. Approximately 20 volunteers were given the skills to transfer concealed data, from several sources, into a single excel spreadsheet to create a more accessible and complete database. This forms the basis of the index today and all finds are added to it.

Enquire about the concealed shoe index

Report a concealed shoe