Historic shoes found during pub renovation

MYSTERY FIND: Simon Entwistle (left) and Simon Forster inspect the shoes

MYSTERY FIND: Simon Entwistle (left) and Simon Forster inspect the shoes

First published in Ribble Valley news by

A PAIR of centuries-old shoes have provided a unique insight into an historic pub's past - after being found under the floorboards.

The footwear, measuring three inches and believed to have belonged to a child, were discovered during renovations at the Aspinall Arms, in Mitton Road, Mitton.

Lancashire tour guide and historian Simon Entwistle said the shoes may have been a good luck charm used to ward off evil spirits like the Pendle Witches.

They were hanged in 1612 because the ten men and women were believed to have been responsible for the murder by witchcraft of 17 people in and around the Forest of Pendle.

The shoes, which Mr Entwistle believes are 200 to 300 years old, are made of brown leather, with worn soles and were probably worn by a three or four-year-old.

Simon Forster, landlord of the Aspinall Arms, which has recently had three new bed and breakfast rooms added in the renovations, said he planned to display the shoes along with the 1920s lease documents found next to them.

He said: "We were installing a new fire alarm system and the floor boards needed replacing when they were found.

"I would like to put them back for good luck reasons but everyone says we should display them in a case along with the documents so that is what I will do."

Sally Forster, the landlord's sister, said: "We were stunned to find the shoes. We are so intrigued and would like to know the history behind them.

"An article I was sent said another reason people concealed shoes behind the walls and floorboards was to help women who could not conceive as well as warding off evil spirits."

"And it is very rare to find a pair."

In the past, cigarette boxes from the 1920s have been discovered in the walls of the pub.

Mr Entwistle, who runs independent tours around Ribble Valley and Pendle, said: "No one knows the exact age of these shoes but they are unique and there must be some lovely history behind them.

"I believe they belonged to a child aged three or four.

"They are very badly worn but the brown leather looks to be very good quality.

"There is some indication they were used to ward off witches, almost like a lucky charm."

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