The Cordwainer’s Craft is at the very top of the scale and would require apprenticeship and journeywork for eventual membership of a Guild – it’s most distressing to be referred to as a cobbler! (After all, some still use the insulting expression ‘cobbled together’ to mean a substandard job…).
Cordwainers work with new materials to produce new goods – cutting pattern pieces, assembling then turning and finishing fine footwear; sometimes also manufacturing other complex leather commissions.
A cobbler is just a mender of old shoes, boots and other goods (though occasionally permitted to refashion footwear or reuse sound leather parts) The reasons for the expression that ‘the cobbler’s children go ill shod’ are not only the irony that he repairs other people’s shoes but also that he is probably too poor to afford them. Cobblers are usually shown as poverty stricken – while not above slyly stepping on the toes of their betters in filtching shoemaking work.
Work undertaken at Farnham Castle International Conference Centre closely follows the construction method of the 17th century shoes on permanent display there.
(These were found alongside ointment pots so were probably buried quite deliberately in an elaborate charm against witchcraft…)
An additional selection of work in progress and finished sets of boots, shoes and pattens can also be brought for display. Shoe and bootmaking is most suitable for Medieval, Tudor and early Stuart events; otherwise a wider range of general leatherwork is offered.
Footwear is only made to order but small leather goods – cases, boxes, belts and pouches – are usually available for purchase ready made. (You can see some of these at the foot of our Games page)
This special commission, below, is a Merchant’s or Banker’s Bag which is copied from late medieval examples, especially those seen at Bruges. The separate bags allow for the sifting of different currencies or denominations of coinage into the large and small pockets. The filled bags would later be unbuttoned and untied from the handle for sorting and secure storage in locked chests.
We are also happy to undertake individual commissions for leather storage boxes – which can additionally be sheepskin lined – whether for pottery, glassware, tools or other delicate items. We have particularly designed and made a variety of robust carrying cases for musical instruments: Shown below a recently supplied two part case for a set of Bagpipes.