THESE miniature shoes were made in 1944, by an unknown Italian prisoner of war who was held at Camp 256, Willingham House in Lincolnshire.

Willingham House was a country house just outside Market Rasen and was built around 1790; and was originally the family home for the Boucherett family.

During and following the Second World War, it was used as a prisoner of war labour camp for predominantly German and Italian prisoners, who were often skilled craftsmen.

Throughout the war, there were approximately 157,000 Italians and 402,000 German prisoners held in the UK. Those at working camps were normally put to work on surrounding farmland, and we know that three of the Italian prisoners from the camp were sent out to work on the farmland around Grimblethorpe Hall near Louth.

With security eased after Italy’s surrender in 1943, the three prisoners didn’t have to report back to their camp on an evening and lived in a small outhouse in the grounds of the hall where they cooked, slept and made a small home for themselves.

With this a more relaxed attitude was adopted towards the prisoners and, as often happened, friendships were formed with the local residents.

Though the prisoners were working when incarcerated, they had little in terms of property or money, meaning they had to make goods themselves to sell or give as gifts to their new local friends.

These shoes are such an example, but with the lack of materials freely available, the prisoner improvised, making them from bread and painting them to create a unique present. They were gifted to a lady named Elsie Savage from Wainfleet and have been kept as a treasured memory.

Elsie’s daughter Mrs Raynor graciously gifted the shoes to Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum in April 1998 where we have taken great care to look after such a delicate piece of history.

The shoes can be seen on display in Hut 10 at the museum along with several beautiful pieces made by prisoners of war in both our camp and others around the UK.

l Step back in time and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Home Front and Front Line throughout the Second World War at Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum in Malton, North Yorkshire. Located within an original Prisoner of War Camp built in 1942, the Camp offers aspects of interest to appeal to all members of the family, including the dog. We are open from 10am until 5pm, seven days a week with last admissions at 4pm. Admission prices start from £9 in low season. For further details on opening times, prices and season tickets, please visit our website: