These well worn shoes, now on display in the Bevirs Law Calne office reception, were once concealed within the walls of the building and found when the premises were converted into offices in 1976.
The smaller is probably a girl’s shoe, dated between 1600 and 1660. Heels such as this came into fashion after 1600 but it has a latchet clasp rather than a buckle, which were introduced in 1659.
The larger golosh, designed to be worn over a shoe in bad weather, is probably from the late 17th century.
There are several theories put forward by historians and archaeologists to explain why this strange tradition, dating back to the 12th century, exists. Superstitious belief is a common link. One theory suggests hiding particular items within the structure of a building was thought to ward off evil spirits, which may be distracted by the shoe and leave the occupants alone. As the shoes are nearly always well worn, they have taken on the imprint of the owner. This could have increased the belief in their protective power, along with the tendency to be concealed near doors, chimneys and in roofs – all entry points into a home. Another theory suggests the hidden shoes were good luck fertility charms.