The Warner House will be open Thursday through Sunday from May 25 until October 15 2023 from 11 AM - 4 PM (last tour at 3:30 pm).

A Brief History of Pattens

The patten on the left and the shoe on the right, shown separately

The patten on the left and the shoe on the right, shown separately

The patten on the left and the shoe on the right, shown separately

The patten shown as worn over the shoe, protecting from snow and mud

Pattens are a type of overshoe, which were worn in previous centuries to protect the wearer from unpaved, cobbled or muddy streets. In Europe and America, pattens were popular from the Middle Ages up until the 19th century. The word “patten” may originate from the Old French word “pate” which means “hoof” or “paw”.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, pattens were worn by both men and women as a way to protect their thin-soled shoes from rough roads and cold floors. Pattens were designed as wooden platforms fastened over shoes with leather, to raise the shoes above the ground. They were especially popular in the 14th and 15th centuries, worn to protect extremely long pointed shoes called poulaines. Pattens appear in all sorts of artwork from this period, most notably the Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, painted in 1434. In later centuries, pattens began to incorporate metal in their platforms, to raise shoes even higher off the ground.

By the 18th century, pattens were not as widely used due to the popularity of heeled shoes with sturdier soles and more durable materials. Pattens became more associated with women in higher classes, to keep their nice leather and silk high-heeled shoes from getting dirty, as well as to elevate their dresses from touching dirty grounds. Several extant pattens exist from the 18th century, differing in style and materials, depending on the shoes and season. For instance, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a pair of American pattens which date to the late 18th century, which are a combination of a clog and a patten. They consist of a wooden sole and leather pads, as well as a serrated iron ring to elevate the patten, which may mean that the pattens were used for icy conditions in the wintertime.

The Warner House has a superb extant patten, which matches a shoe in our collection as well. This patten was definitely intended for someone wealthy, as it is made of pale seafoam green silk, to match the high-heeled shoe. The patten by itself has an interesting shape, almost looking like an early type of flip flop shoe. When paired together, the curved patten slips under the high-heeled shoe and has strips to secure the shoe in place. Together, the patten and shoe appear as one, matching in color, shape, and material. This style of patten is extraordinary, since many extant pattens are made of simple wood and leather, without any matching silk. This patten, paired with its high-heeled shoe, may have been worn by Polly Warner, or her stepmother Mary Macphaedris Warner, as the style appears to be from the third quarter of the 18th century (c. 1760-1780).