Knox Box of Miscellany

Dawn Knox – A rearranger of words into something hopefully meaningful…

What’s Afoot in London?

What’s Afoot in London?
It doesn’t matter how many times I go to London and visit the same places, I always see something I’ve never noticed before and I learn something new.

pair of discarded shoes
What’s afoot here?

Today was no different. I went to the area known as EC3 with my sister-in-law – and revisited many of the places I’ve been to before. We started by looking at St Botolph’s Hall which was originally an infants school, with its two stone figures of a schoolboy and girl in early nineteenth century costumes. It was shortly after that I spotted the stiletto shoes which someone had either lost or discarded. A strange sight in a churchyard.

We stopped at St Dunstan’s in the East, the church which I’ve visited before and you can see some photos here. The church was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The only part of his design that still exists today is the tower. The remainder of the church was built in 1817 but it was destroyed by enemy action in 1941. However, rather than flattening what was left and building something else on the site, a garden was created in and around the walls which gets busy at midday as office workers eat their lunch in this peaceful haven.

Model posing
Model posing in St Dunstan’s in the East

There was obviously a modelling photoshoot going on with a scantily-clad lad who shuffled into position wearing towelling slippers which didn’t really go with his outfit. However, he soon slipped them off and very gamely posed barefoot. As it was very early March, the ground must have been freezing but he ignored the cold and did his best to tie himself in knots as the photographer requested.

Next, we made our way to St Margaret Pattens where, on previous visits, I’d seen a display of pattens (a type of undershoe consisting of a wooden sole fitted with leather straps and mounted on a large metal ring to raise the wearer above the mud and detritus which littered the roads.) However, when we arrived at the church, the glass case was empty and the exhibits had all been placed in boxes. Luckily, the beadle of the Pattenmakers Guild passed by and offered to get a few examples out of storage for us to see. The first ones he showed us had once belonged to a child.

Child's pattens for wearing over shoes
A child’s pattens
Child's pattens for wearing over shoes
A child’s pattens

As the beadle pointed out, it was probably very difficult for a child to balance on those metal rings whilst walking on cobbles.

The next pattens he showed us belonged to a woman and a very small child.

Woman's and child's pattens for wearing over shoes
Woman’s patten with a tiny child’s patten on the top

If you want to know more about pattens and their history, click here to go to the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers’ website

So, what’s afoot in London? Well, apparently, all sorts of things, if you know where to look!