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The concealed revealed

What to do if you find a concealed shoe

Women's black leather buckle latchet shoe, about 1750. It was found concealed in the flue above one of the ovens with a pair of shoes and a single shoe wrapped in a piece of brown paper, together with a leather gaiter and a wooden oven peel.

Women's leather latchet tie shoe, about 1750. Found concealed in the flue above one of the ovens in the house with a pair of shoes and a single shoe wrapped in a piece of brown paper, together with a leather gaiter and a wooden oven peel. Lower Harlestone, Northamptonshire.

The concealed shoe index

The museum collects concealed shoe find information to add to the concealed shoe index, which will help with further research into this fascinating practice.

History of the concealed shoe index

In the 1950s Miss Swann, former keeper of the shoe collection at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, noticed that footwear being regularly brought in for both identification and donation 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 to be ignored so she started to record the information to try and understand the practise.

The concealed shoe index today

In 2016-2017, the University of Hertfordshire collaborated with us to digitise the index, producing a dataset that is both more accessible and more searchable. At its most recent count, the digitised Index contains a total of 2,980 separate find entries detailing more than 3,000 individual shoes plus all the other objects that have been found with them.

Sharing information with the concealed shoe index

If you find a concealed shoe please do contact us with the following information if known:

  • Address of building
  • Date of the building if known and date of any alterations or building work
  • The building function such as a private house or farm
  • Where it was found within the building
  • What was found with it
  • Description of the footwear
  • Date of the footwear if known

We would be delighted to receive images of the shoes found to help provide dating and style information, which will also be added to the Index.

The easiest way to share information is by filling in our online form.

Report a concealed shoe