The Concealed Revealed: The Magic of Shoes Rebecca Shawcross

She will explore the fascinating practise of deliberately hiding boots and shoes in buildings for no obvious practical purpose and no obvious intention of retrieval. For many years people have been trying to shed light on why people since the fourteenth century having been hiding shoes and other random objects. Very few sources have been identified which explain why it happened, so there have been many reasons put forward to explain why. Do shoes act as apotropaic devices protecting the house from malevolent spirits, are they good luck charms or simply hidden as objects that speak of sentiment and memory a way of declaring ‘we were here’ to anyone who might come after.


Rebecca Shawcross has been the Assistant Curator and now the Senior Shoe Curator at Northampton Museums and Art Gallery since 1998. She is responsible for the Designated Shoe Collection, which includes collections management, exhibitions, research and enquiries, talks and advising other museums and the media. She has published various articles including ‘I Stand Corrected? New Perspectives on Orthopaedic Footwear,’ a research paper for the publication Rethinking Disability Representation in Museums & Galleries, and her book Shoes: An Illustrated History was published by Bloomsbury in 2014, with a revised and extended edition coming out in October 2022.

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