“Why do you wear pattens, Marty? The turnpike is clean enough, although the lanes are muddy.”
“They save my boots.”
“But twelve miles in pattens–’twill twist your feet off. Come, get up and ride with me.”
-from Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders
The ground was mucky in both the city and the county in the Victorian era. Modern plumbing and sewer systems weren’t being built until late in the 1800s, and the roads only started to improve with the introduction of cars and bicycles. This meant you really didn’t want to be tramping in the outdoors in your good shoes. This in when you relied on your patterns, overshoes, or boots.
Pattens were a type of clog or overshoe that raised your shoes above the muck on the street. Pattens had a wooden or wood & metal soles. Wellington boots are still in use today, though modern wellies are generally made out of plastic and rubber rather than leather. Overshoes were similar to pattens, except they tended to be designed better than pattens – often the wealthy had overshoes made for special pairs of shoes.