Wooden patten overshoe, 1711-20
Worn to protect shoes from the dirt of the street. ID no. A3635
Even today, the history of making can be traced through the names of streets and places in the city. The area around Eastcheap, once the principal area of the butchers’ trade, is a case in point. To the south, Pudding Lane gets its name from the ‘puddings’ of offal which would fall from the butchers’ carts as they made their way from Eastcheap to the river – nothing to do with our modern sweet puddings. To the north, on Rood Lane, the church of St Margaret Pattens gets its name from another trade practiced in the area from the 14th century: the production of pattens, or wooden overshoes.
From the medieval period, sites of making in London were dictated by a combination of practical concerns and the rules of the city’s livery companies, which governed important trades. Makers entered into mutually dependent relationships with other trades, including wholesalers, which affected their location. In the 15th and 16th centuries, for example, the production of baskets was focused around Eastcheap, due to the presence of the butchers, who needed baskets to transport meat. Another reason, however, was the nationality of many basket-weavers, many of them Flemish and Dutch immigrants. Ineligible to join a livery company or to settle where they pleased, they were legally restricted to the district known as Blanche Appleton, north of Eastcheap. This area therefore blossomed into a centre of basket-weaving.