Queen Victoria is an iconic figure in British history. She was on the throne for sixty three years; from 1837 to 1901. Alongside her innovation-loving husband Prince Albert, Queen Victoria was a significant force behind many of the advances during this era, including train travel, the Industrial Revolution and improved social conditions.
Interestingly for us, Victoria and Albert were also hugely influential in the field of design. Two of styles of shoes commonly worn in the UK today can be attributed directly to the couple.
The very first pair of Chelsea Boots were created by Queen Victoria’s shoemaker J. Sparks-Hall. Legend has it that Victoria wanted a pair of sturdy, attractive boots that could be worn for walking. Mr Sparks-Hall created the J. Sparks-Hall’s Patent Elastic Ankle Boots and, so we’re told, Queen Victoria provided a very practical endorsement by wearing them to walk in daily.
Prince Albert Slippers
House shoes may have declined in popularity in recent decades, but there was a time when every discerning gentlemen of a certain social class would’ve owned a pair. The Prince Albert Slipper is said to have been designed by the prince himself.
He was looking for a shoe that would be comfortable and delicate enough to be worn indoors, but would be formal enough to be worn while hosting a dinner party. This particular style of slipper has an extended vamp, a leather sole and a quilted lining. It was usually paired with a complimentary smoking jacket.
Other Shoes with a Royal Lineage
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert aren’t the only royal to have contributed to shoe history. Their grandson George V has also had a shoe design attributed to him. George V is believed to have asked his shoe maker to create an indoor shoe that he could wear during drips to country houses. The shoe maker came back with a pair of loafers… and style history was made.