Child’s Workhouse Uniform Shoes

These rounded, sturdy-looking, brown leather child’s shoes are a replica of one in the October 26, 1806 inventory of the Staplehurst Parish Workhouse in Kent.

In the context of a museum exhibition, these child’s shoes can support the messages of other displays to help give visitors a more complete sense of a cobbler’s process, the workhouse uniform, or the life of children in the workhouse.

For a shoemaking exhibit, shoes can either act as a hands-on display using a replica or 3D digital rendering to help visitors understand the weight, feel, and size of uniform shoes, or as the image of a final product.

In an exhibit (physical or digital) on the uniform or the life of children, shoes can help illustrate the simple functionality of the pauper’s uniform, and if combined with a digital form of inventory/minute records, shoes could be used to help bring to life the wear and tear of workhouse life on the uniform. This digital tool can also reveal how often children received new shoes, combining the total institution feel of the workhouse with the evidence of some governing committee’s care for the maintenance of children’s uniforms.


Photos by Susannah Ottaway.

“An Inventory of All and Singular the Good and Chattels of the Work-house of the Parish of Staplehurst Kent as taken the 24th of October 1806 by order of the Overseers Messrs Ts. Simmons & Ts Bromley at the Death of the late Master Daniel Axell.” Kent Library P.347/18/1.


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