How much does an island cost? Well in the case of Great Gott Island that would come in at approximately 18 Pounds. Though centuries have passed since the 59-acre island preserve changed hands, many traditions remain the same as they were in the 1700s…
Today there remains no electricity, or any motorized vehicles on the island – seasonal inhabitants rely on kerosene lamps, propane-powered water heaters, personal watercraft, and this tiny post office seen above. But there is another, perhaps more regional tradition, that continues to be … unwalled?
Great Gott Island also happens to be where author Christina Marsden Gillis found a mysterious shoe behind the wall of her old family home: “Its sole gouged with holes, the leather top cracked and ripped, the shoe, a woman’s, had been hidden in the west wall of an upstairs bedroom in our Gotts Island house.”
More than 100 shoes have been found in walls throughout New England, and this phenomenon is less rare than you would think: the Concealed Shoe Index, managed by the Northampton Museum in England, has catalogued over 1900 instances of hidden shoes from all around the world. The area formerly known as East Anglia, where the early settlers of Great Gott island originated, was a hot spot for such findings.
Most of these shoes had been worn, and half of them were in children’s sizes. But why hide your shoes in the walls? Well, it’s been speculated that they acted as fertility charms for women who wanted to conceive, but more a probable theory according to scholars is that this concealed footwear protected homeowners from evil spirits.
So take note, if you happen to live in an 18th or 19th-century house in New England, next time you renovate you may also find yourself a new pair of shoes…👞