Crediton boot trade discovery

Discovery of tiny boots thought to be related to Crediton's former boot and shoe industry.

Several years ago the late Barbara Tennant, then living in Exeter, recorded an interview for the archives of Crediton Area History & Museum Society in which she referred to what she though might be a relict of Crediton’s shoe and boot making past. This was of particular interest to her interviewer, present chair of the Society, David Nation. Barbara told David that a pair of miniature boots originally in her late in-laws house, The Chantry in Dean Street, were now in the ownership of her sister-in-law, June Tennant, living in Cambridgeshire. David contacted June and renewed the contact recently when June offered the boots to Crediton Museum, in memory of her husband, Tony Tennant.

June posted the boots to David and they are now safely in the Society’s archives. David said ‘It appears from the stories that Barbara and June told me that their in-laws, Michael Tennant and Mary, nee Stoyle, lived at The Chantry before the war and the boots were always kept on display in their home. The couple ran Stoyles drapers in the High Street, founded by Mary’s father.

David says that this is a most important discovery because nothing remains of the great shoe and boot making trade that was prominent in the town for almost a century until 1914. Ironically David says that he remembers as a small boy living at his parent’s grocers shop in the High Street and being aware of a similar boot that was always thought of as an apprentice piece but was unfortunately lost following a house move.

The Tennant’s boots are tiny, clearly not made to be worn, and David wonders whether these could have been an apprentice piece or whether they were made for marketing purposes. He added ‘They are incredibly well made so if they were test pieces, the maker must have got the job! We wonder whether there are other similar items, or perhaps even real boots or shoes, secreted away in the area, that stem from the shoe making industry that was so important to the town during the 19th century.

CAHMS is appealing for anyone who might have any more relics of the trade to get in touch on 01363774441. David said ‘We are enormously grateful to June Tennant for donating the boots to us and would be really delighted if anyone with similar items, or who can tell us more about these boots, would get in touch with us.


10 February 2021