Strata Florida, a Cistercian monastery in Ceredigion, is World Monuments Fund Britain’s first project in Wales. In partnership with the Strata Florida Trust, WMFB is working to restore the farmhouse and other buildings located close to the monastery.
In September 2020 work began on the conversion of the Grade II listed 18th century Tŷ Pair and cart shed into the Mynachlog Fawr Exhibition. The Trust will be conserving and repairing the building to create a free to enter space telling the story of the farm through the “Mynachlog Fawr in 30 objects” exhibition.
At the beginning of the conservation work, the Trust uncovered a small ceramic egg. As the work progressed, there were further unusual discoveries beneath the wall where the egg was hidden – three odd shoes and a 1930s compact. The two shoes are thought to be a child’s and the small boot would be suitable for either a woman or a child. All of the footwear is well worn, indeed there have been repairs carried out on the soles. Consultation with Rebecca Shawcross, Senior Curator at Northampton Museum which has an index of over 3000 shoes which have been discovered concealed in buildings, revealed they were Oxford style shoes and a Derby boot. The styles developed in the 1870s and these examples likely were concealed in the early 1900s.
A shoe is the only item of clothing which takes on the shape of the person wearing it. It is container shaped and it is thought people believed that it held something of the wearer’s essence even when it was not being worn, so that the good spirits contained in the shoe would ward off evil spirits. – Rebecca Shawcross, Senior Curator at Northampton Museum
In the wall at the back of the building, a small circular lid from a 1930s makeup compact made in the USA was found concealed. How it ended up in the wall is a mystery, although may be connected to US soldiers being based nearby during the war.
The Strata Florida Trust are planning to include the shoes in the exhibition featuring a variety of objects and documents from the farmhouse and farm buildings, it will provide the opportunity for visitors of all ages to discover and engage with the social history of the house and community.
The Trust have now completed the stonework element of the conservation. The next steps will be to insert new timber lintels and the construction of the A-frames.