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Harborough Museum



Iron shoes to help out stand above the rest!

These pattens, made from a combination of leather, metal and wood, date from sometime around the 18th century. The metal ring affixed to the base of the patten was specifically invented to raise the individual wearer above the street-level. It was also precisely designed in a ring shape to provide the wearer with balance.

They would have been strapped underneath a pair of shoes and held in place with the leather fastening to secure the patten to the shoe, and then the individual would have been elevated above the muddy and wet streets. This important for both keeping the wearer’s clothes clean and tidy, but also because sanitation at the time was a far cry from today and the streets would’ve been significantly more unhygienic.

A photograph of two pattens, iron shoes to help people raise their height.
The pattens can be seen in the left-hand Market Harborough Historical Society case

Despite their practicality, pattens were deemed somewhat ungraceful due to the incessant clinking noise they made when worn. In Jane Austen’s posthumous novel, Persuasion, Austen describes “the ceaseless clink of pattens” along with other everyday sounds to be heard in the early 19th century street.

We are very grateful to our volunteer, Hilary, for researching and writing this month’s entry.

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Address: The Symington Building, Adam and Eve Street, Market Harborough, LE16 7LT (Car Park: LE16 7XA)

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