Over recent years I’ve gotten into the habit of stopping by the local Salvation Army shops nearby when passing. I’ve been lucky to have a fairly decent one both in the small town where I live, and right next to where I’ve been working for the past 4 years. The combination of doing my bit for charity and possibly finding an amazing deal is a little hard to resist.
It’s been a while now since I saw anything that was more than a marginally decent deal. That is, until I stopped by the local branch in town yesterday. Even in the midst of Xmas shopping, I still couldn’t resist the lure of the bargain hunt, and a quick look usually only takes a few minutes.
And what do my roving eyes fall upon? There on the shelf, just half-peeking out from under a low hanging suit jacket, a pair of brown brogues. Now, brogues aren’t really all that common in Norway, and the shoes that tend to end up at the Salvation Army shop tend to be pretty crummy. In 4 years I’ve seen 2 pairs of Dr Martens, and that’s been the best of the lot. In fact, I passed on a pair of Dr Martens brogues in black only a week ago. They may have fit, but I have no use for black shoes. Brogues though? I do like the brogues. The added detail the brogue patterning gives can lift what is otherwise just a rather plain shoe to a shoe that is almost a work of art, or at least looks very much more interesting than plain leather. Plus, brogues have a long and interesting story behind them!
Ah, but back to the quest at hand! Brown brogues a’peeking! What have we here? I may have said it aloud even, as I made a grab for one of them. At this point I didn’t really have too high hopes, but looking into them and seeing they were made by Church, and Custom Grade at that certainly got my attention! A quick Google showed me that this was the proper stuff indeed. And a quick trial fit showed me that they actually fit me as well! An Xmas miracle, indeed.
So, Church, any good? Well, they’ve been making shoes in Northampton since 1873, and to this day they are still handmade in their factory there. A process that takes around 8 weeks and involves over 250 detailed manual operations.
The Goodyear Welt construction means that when the sole is worn out, the shoe can be taken apart and resoled. Sustainable shoes indeed, how eco-friendly is this? Church is no longer owned by the Church family, as they sold the company to Prada Holding in 1999. A blemish on a proud history, though I’m sure it made sense at the time.
In any case, I couldn’t possibly put these shoes back on the shelf, so 25 pounds (!) changed owner and they came home with me. Closer study shows almost no wear at all, as far as I can tell they’ve not even had a good polishing yet. The soles show some wear from outdoors use, though not much. Wearing them around the house yesterday I did notice how incredibly slippy the leather soles are. Perhaps I can have something added in durable rubber? Maybe not a full commando-style resoling, but a little grip and added durability would be nice.
The hieroglyphics inside the shoe intrigue me. Most likely they only give the specifications and serial number of the show, but those unreadable scribblings are certainly cryptic. Any code breakers out there?
Oh, and I almost forgot. Why did I title this post “A pair of brogues with my name on them”? Well, trying to find out a bit more about these brogues, I asked for help on Twitter. Almost immediately a helpful chap replied that they were the “Chetwynd” model from Church. A 390 pound pair of shoes. Chetwynd? Well, that’s our family name on my mothers side, a generation or two back! Hardly a common name either. So these shoes did actually have my name on them. How bloody marvellous is that?
I have previously written about my great-great-grandfather Joseph Chetwynd, a mining hero of his day.
I’ve written about the next step for my lucky brogues, where they fly back to England for a some loving attention from the Shoe Healer in Nottingham. Read about how they were resoled in this post!