Highlights of the Footwear Collection

Boot of Prince Albert
Tom Thumb's boot
Pair of Queen Victoria's shoes

Prince Albert's boots

Pair of men's black leather Wellington boots, worn by Prince Albert, 1840-1850.

Tom Thumb's boot

Tom Thumb was a famous Victorian midget. He wore these boots with a uniform imitating Napoleon Bonaparte

Queen Victoria's Shoes

Pair of white satin shoes worn by Queen Victoria on her wedding day, 10 February 1840.

Black leather wellington boots
Silver court shoes
Black suede court shoes

Black leather dress Wellington boots 1830-1835

These boots have narrow square toes. The foot part, cut to resemble a slip on shoe with a bow at the front, is made of black patent leather. They were intended to be worn under trousers.

Women's silver lizard skin court shoes

Many would claim that Roger Vivier has created the most beautiful shoes of the 20th century. The Vivier shoe is his often innovative heel, named for the shape it mimics: spool, ball, needle, pyramid or escargot (snail).

Pair of women's black suede heel-less court shoes.

These shoes create the illusion that the wearer is suspended in mid air. André Perugia was the first to experiment with a heel-less shoe followed by Pinet. The sole tapers off into a steel plate support. Needless to say the idea did not catch on.

Elephant boot
Lady Stanthorpe shoes
Red velvet shoes

Elephant Boot made in 1959 by Lotus Ltd. Northampton

In 1959 an expedition set out to re-create Hannibal's journey across the Alps. Included in the team was an elephant named "Jumbo". To protect him from the weather he had a canvas coat and trunk cover and to protect his feet a set of canvas and leather boots.

Lady Mary Stanhope shoes worn c.1660.

Made of blue velvet and embroidered with silver gilt thread, these shoes must have been worn for a special occasion.
Lady Mary was the wife of Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. After Sir John's death in 1638 she married Sir John Gell.

Women's red velvet embroidered shoes. c. 1920.

Yantorney was a shoemaker in Paris in the first quarter of the 20th century. He made exquisite shoes that were as light and delicate as cobwebs and made of extraordinary antique materials. A perfectionist, a pair of shoes sometimes took 3 years to make


Leather Cowboy boots 20th Century

America's cowboy boot was developed in the United States around 1867, when the first big cattle drives began from Texas to Kansas. Usually black or dark brown they were not fancy but very practical.

Manchu woman's shoe, East China 1880-1900

It was the Chinese custom for women to bind their feet but Manchu women were forbidden to do so. The platform shoe with a variety of tapering soles, was a design that mimicked the bound feet of Chinese women.

Man's leather sandals - Ghana

Sandals have been the dominant footwear in hot climate regions for centuries. They are ideal because their firm soles protect the feet from scorching surfaces, while the straps allow air to circulate freely and sand to fall out easily.

Museums - Bath Clogs

Women's bath clogs - Turkey 1850-1900

Made of wood and inlaid with mother of pearl, this type of platform clog was worn by Turkish women in bathhouses to protect their feet from the wet floors.

Men's 'Sabots' France 1920-1940

The French call clogs 'Sabot'. This carved wooden pair are painted in yellow, black and red to resemble a buttoned shoe.

Toe peg sandals - India 1875-99

Since cow leather was forbidden within the Hindu religion, sandals were made from wood, ivory or metal. They were called padukas, chakris or kharrows.


Camel hide slippers - Morocco 1800-1850

Embroidered with a spiral pattern in red and grey cotton. Notice how the backs have been squashed down. This type of shoe can easily be slipped off and on.

Leather boot Mesopotamia (now Iraq) 19th century.

This is a traditional shoe that has been worn in Mesopotamia for over 4000 years. Rock carvings by the Hittites have been discovered showing local people wearing a similar style.

Clog sandals Nigeria, Africa, 1924

These sandals have a raised wooden sole covered with carved geometric patterns and leather straps.

Museums - Bound foot shoes

Native American footwear 1825-1870

Moccasins are usually associated with Native North Americans. The word moccasin comes from East Algonquian dialect.

Two main types can be found: the hard sole which has a separate sole and upper, and the soft sole where the sole and upper are cut from one piece of leather. The job of making and repairing them was done entirely by women. Girls started their training at eight years old.

Women's bound foot shoes China. 1890-1900

Legend has it that lotus or lily foot slippers first appeared in China in the 11th century when Empress Taki was born with deformed feet. To save her future embarrassment, her father announced that only women with very small feet could be truly feminine and desirable. As a result women began to bind their feet. The tiny, virtually unusable feet were a mark of status, beauty, gentility and sexual attractiveness.

Pair of women's 'getas', Japan c. 1963

High platform wooden 'getas' were traditionally worn by the highest class of Japanese geisha.

A very practical shoe they keep the hem of kimonos out of the dirt. Before entering a house they are slipped off as they are considered unclean outdoor shoes never to be worn indoors. If it is cold, cotton socks called 'tabi' are worn with a toe divide for the thong.