This name of this rather long laneway, which runs from Charterhouse Street, under Holborn Viaduct, all the way south to Fleet Street, doesn’t have anything to do with footwear.
The name is actually a corruption of the Sho Well which once stood at the north end of the thoroughfare (and which itself may have been named after a tract of land known as Shoeland Farm thanks to it resembling a shoe in shape).
In the 13th century the lane was the London home of the Dominican Black Friars – after they left in the late 13th century, the property became the London home of the Earl of Lincoln and later became known as Holborn Manor.
In the 17th century, the lane was known as for its signwriters and broadsheet creators as well as for a famous cockpit which was visited by none other than diarist Samuel Pepys in 1663. It was also the location of a workhouse.
Prominent buildings which have survived also include St Andrew Holborn, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (it actually survived the Great Fire of London but was in such a bad state of repair that it was rebuilt anyway). The street these days is lined with office buildings.
Famous residents have included John de Critz, Serjeant Painter to King James I and King Charles I, preacher Praise-God Barebone who gave his name to Barebone’s Parliament held in 1653 during the English Commonwealth, and Paul Lovell, who, so the story goes, refused to leave his house during the Great Fire of 1666 and so died in his residence.