What’s Hiding in Your Old Home?

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This old shoe was found well hidden in a Suffield home.

Photo by Ray Pioggia

This old shoe was found well hidden in a Suffield home.

While restoring their old home on East Street North, Frank and Loretta Ruggiero stumbled upon a “concealment shoe” – evidence of the ancient custom of hiding a shoe in a house in order to protect it from harmful spirits. Little is known about this tradition, brought to America by early settlers from England and Western Europe. Shoes have been discovered in houses dating back to the 1600’s, and in Europe as long ago as the 14th century. In fact, the Northampton Museum in England has documented over 2,000 concealment shoes. Nearly all of the shoes are well worn and are usually found hidden around chimneys, walls and windows. Half of all concealment shoes belonged to children and are very rarely found in pairs. Though shoes are the most common objects found, many other personal possessions have been found hidden with them, such as coins, spoons, food, knives, toys, old sleigh bells, even chicken and cat bones. The brass-tipped child’s boot pictured was found in the Ruggiero’s brick oven and does not date as far back as the 1805 house; it was common to hide or “conceal” a shoe during later renovations.

If anyone has found a concealment shoe, please feel free to contact me at LTLauray@yahoo.com, as I would like to document it. The location will be added to a map of Suffield that is in progress. And if so inclined, you could donate your old shoes and items to build a collection as other New England towns have done, so everyone can see them. Unless, of course, you think that would be bad luck?

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