What are pattens? And why aren’t they around now? Well I suppose they are still around but in a different incarnation. They’re called platforms! pattens have a long history (see here)
Pattens were made of wood or leather and sometimes very high 8 to 10 inches. The idea was to elevate the dainty or flimsily made shoe or slipper from the wet, muddy or damp ground. Rather like walking on stilts really. This site is very informative about shoes including pattens.
Some of these pattens had a metal ring at the bottom, this raised them from the ground. They must have been very difficult to balance on and it makes you wonder if people fell off them into the mud thereby defeating the object lol!
Another type of pattens were Chopines, made for the wealthy in Renaissance Italy, though they date to earlier and are by no means exclusive to Italy. These were very elaborate contraptions and highly fashionable.
The Bronte’s Aunt Branwell wore pattens. Coming from the warm climate of Penzance Cornwall, she hated the dark rainy windy climate of Haworth Yorkshire. She never ever got used to it. It was not considered polite to wear pattens indoors so Aunt Branwell was considered eccentric for doing so: –
…she disliked many of the customs of the place, and particularly dreaded the cold damp arising from the flag floors in the passages and parlours of Haworth Parsonage. The stairs, too, I believe, are made of stone; and no wonder, when stone quarries are near, and trees are far to seek. I have heard that Miss Branwell always went about the house in pattens, clicking up and down the stairs, from her dread of catching cold.’ (From ‘The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell)