These wooden soled ice skates with leather straps are from a collection of objects thought to have belonged to the Arkwright family of Sutton Hall, Sutton Scarsdale. Sutton Hall was auctioned and sold in 1919 by one of the last remaining members of the family, William Arkwright.
These small nineteenth century ice skates would have belonged to a lady. You’ll notice how the wooden bases must have been fixed to a skating boot and how the metal blade on underside of the wood curves around to meet the toes. You can also see the brass toes of the base and the thick leather double straps with buckle fastening.
The earliest people to try ice skating, suggested to have been around 3,000 years ago in Finland, are thought to have used bone skates to glide over the ice. The use of steel and shaped blades, for cutting into the ice, first appeared in the Netherlands in the 16th century.
Ice skating seems to have come to Britain in the late 1600s, possibly a sport introduced to the aristocracy by William lll (of Orange) from the Netherlands. The first official ice-skating club, the Edinburgh Skating Club, was formed in the 1700s but the next, the London Skating Club, was not formed until the 1830s. However, in the Fens, east England, due to the watery landscape, ice skating had for a long time been a mode of transport for people from all walks of life; for working and for recreation. Skates were often called pattens as, like pattens, they were fixed to the sole of everyday footwear in winter months.
It was in the nineteenth century when ice-skating really took off as a fashionable winter pastime for the upper and middle classes. A British National Skating Association was established in February 1879 and the International Skating Union in 1892.