MysteryMonday: A Boot in Time [UPDATED]

#MysteryMonday – Today we present a MysteryMonday of a somewhat different ilk; rather than solving the identity of a forgotten image, what we have is a tale of a mysterious event that occurred recently within our midst. It is a story of a woman’s boot, set in Eltham Cemetery, as told by Heather Eastman.

Victorian Ladies Side Lace-up Dainty Boots, c.1860. (Image Source: 1860-1960: one hundred years of fashion and accessories)

While out walking the dog one day past Eltham Cemetery on Mount Pleasant Road, I came across a very old looking boot. It was freshly dug up, most likely by a hungry and inquisitive fox looking for something to eat. It was sitting beside a sizable hole right next to the old green caretaker’s hut.

The boot appeared to be a genuine relic of the past. All leather, including the sole; laces long since gone. It had certainly seen better days with a few holes here and there and it was full of dirt.

I had seen boots like this before in pictures from the past. At a guess, it was a hundred years old, possibly more, and its owner, female with dainty feet.

I considered it may have come from the little Bootmaker’s cottage on Main Road. The cottage is still there, but of course has not witnessed boots made for years. I imagined when it did, they probably looked like this one.

I understand, around the time boots like this were worn, people were also quite superstitious. Often burying or concealing a single boot or shoe in a wall cavity or the like, to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.

I failed to take a photo of the boot that day, so I went back a few days later to do so. However, the boot was gone, and in its place, appeared a fresh pile of mulch. The boot provided a brief glimpse into our past, now a mystery as to how it got there and who once owned it. The above image is a good match for the boot.

Bootmaker’s cottage adjacent to Whitecloud Cottage, opposite the intersection of Dalton Street at Main Road, Eltham, 5 Jun 1990 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Do you have any tales of mysterious happenings or events in the district you would like to share? If so, we’d love to hear from you

UPDATE – 7 August 2018

It turns out that the Eltham Cemetery staff rescued the boot and have stored it in a safe place. The following are photos of the actual boot! Now . . .  wonder whose boot it was? Stay tuned as this mystery may still have some life in it to boot around …

The actual boot (Photo courtesy of Eltham Cemetery Trust)
The actual boot (Photo courtesy of Eltham Cemetery Trust)

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