Alex at Trinity Theatre has been inviting our Tunbridge Wells Project into the building for the past few weeks to document the changes that are underway in the foyer (link at the end of this post). Amongst all the building work there was a bit of a treat waiting for us.
Photographed above is the remains of a leather shoe that was found underneath the floor. It was discovered by the builders that are refurbishing the bar and café by extending the storage behind the bar. The shoe was found as they were lifting the original floor stones and digging down into the foundations. From this we can deduce that the shoe was placed in situ at the very start of construction of the church, but what was it doing there?
There are lots of theories as to why shoes are placed into the very fabric of a building, the most fitting of which is that is will protect against evil spirits. Most interestingly my limited research seems to indicate that they are quite rare to find in ecclesiastical buildings.
Beyond it falling there by accident, that seems to be the most reasonable explanation as to why it's there. But whose is it and who put it there?
The first stone of Trinity Church was laid on the 17th August 1827. This date also happens to be the birthday of Queen Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, who was residing at nearby Calverley House at the time. The young Victoria is known to have attended Holy Trinity on more than one occasion. What I am trying to say here is, is this her shoe? You never know. It could of course also have belonged to the wife of one the builders and although that's more plausible it's just not as fun is it.
The part of the church that the shoe was found, just to the left of the ladder.
Whoever it belongs to, and whoever put it there, there is a small part of this that is playing on my brain. Not that I'm superstitious or anything but would it not be the best idea to just leave the shoe where it is? Reading about such finds in other buildings I have come across many cases where bad luck and strange happenings occur when the shoe leaves the building. We wouldn't want anything to happen to Trinity now would we?
The shoe is now heading over to the museum to be appraised and if anything interesting turns up I'll pass it on. Fingers crossed.
Thank you to the friendly welcome extended by Shepherd & Son Builders throughout the refurbishment, and to Alex and Trinity for allowing us to record this work.