A turf cutter

October 28, 2020

Nowadays, you can buy or hire a motorised machine to remove turf, cut at just the right depth to be reused to lay or lawn. Or maybe turf just needs to be lifted to clear the way for a new bed for flowers or vegetables.

The job would have been much harder using a traditional turf cutting tool, such as the one on display at Market Lavington Museum.

The blade had to be inserted into the grass and then pushed just below and parallel to the surface, which would have involved holding the handle at quite a low angle, although the kink just above the blade would have helped a little with this. The job must have involved quite a strain on the back and arms.

Our tool was used at Clyffe Hall, a substantial house with large grounds, in the village of Market Lavington in Wiltshire. This became the home of Lord Warrington and his wife. Thomas Rolls Warrington was a judge, working in London and he took the title Lord Warrington of Clyffe, after his home in Market Lavington, (See Lord Warrington of Clyffe.)

Lord Warrington’s initials (T.R.W.) are clearly marked on the handle of the turf cutter. The tool may date from about the 1920s. Lord Warrington died in 1937.

Another ribbon plate

October 27, 2020

The Market Lavington Burgess family photographers not only dealt in photographic images, but produced giftware to sell in their High Street shop. We have already seen a ribbon plate, with a picture of the village High Street. (See Market Lavington Commemorative Ware). Such plates were popular in the early years of the 20th century. They could have a ribbon threaded through the decorative holes, to prettify the plate for serving cakes to visitors.

We imagine this turquoise plate, 22cm wide, was another item of Burgess giftware. It features the same image of the village as the pink plate decorated with pansies. This Burgess picture was also used for a postcard. The plate makes an attractive addition to our cabinet of local commemorative china.

A stamp holder

October 26, 2020

In these days of emails, WhatsApp and other social media, we send and receive far fewer letters through the post. The business letters we receive usually do not have stamps on them. However, we still send birthday and Christmas cards and use stamps for those.

A recent donation to Market Lavington Museum reminds us of the pleasure we get from recieving a personal letter.

This it a little leather wallet for holding stamps. The leather has been tooled with a stylised daffodil pattern surrounding the gold lettering. On the back is a small gold leaf with the words Ardern Forest on it and C81 below the leaf.

There are a few stamps tucked inside. The owner of the the stamp wallet, Florrie Shore, who spent her childhood living in the cottage that houses our museum now, died in 1994, so the stamps predate that year.

The 10p Christmas stamp is from 1980. The 14p Prince Charles and Lady Diana wedding stamp is dated 29th July 1981 and the two 18p Christmas stamps are from 1987.

A weed lifting tool

October 25, 2020

We have already seen a tool which was used by gardeners to lift weeds without having to go down on hands and knees. (See A weeding tool.) At Market Lavington Museum, we have another such item.

This one does have a handle attached, but is a somewhat different design as it does not have the metal rocker. It works on the same principle. When weeds, such as dandelions, with long tapering roots need to be removed from a lawn, the prongs are place either side of the plant, as low to the lawn surface as possible and, as the handle is lowered, the root should be lifted out of the ground.

Similar tools are still available, but the handles are less hefty nowadays.

A moustache cup

October 24, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum, we have various items of china decorated with local views. These are generally photographs taken by the Burgess photographers in the village and sold in their shop on the High Street. No doubt they were purchased as gifts to friends and relations with a connection to the village.

This picture is of the crossroads with the department store on the right hand corner and a view up towards the Market Place. The photographer’s premises were in the row of shops along the left hand side of the picture.

The cup, thought to be German in origin, dates from about 1900, when moustaches were fashionable amongst the menfolk.

For this is a moustache cup, designed to allow the drinking of a cup of tea without wetting the facial hair. Our cup was found in Bath and has made its way back home.

No doubt the pansy design was produced by the suppliers of the china, for it also features on an Edwardian ribbon plate in our museum collection. (See Market Lavington Commemorative Ware.)

A leather wallet and request

October 23, 2020

We have recently been given this wallet as a gift to Market Lavington Museum. It belonged to a couple who lived in the village, though we do not know whether it was used by the lady or her husband.

Outwardly, there is nothing special about it but, inside, we can date it to pre 1971. That was the year the UK changed to decimal currency.

The wallet has sections for 20/- and 10/- banknotes. 20/- (20 shillings) made a pound and there were green one pound notes up until decimalisation, when the pound retained its value, but was represented by a coin and not a note. Likewise, the brown 10 shilling note became a 50p coin.

Inflation meant that banknotes were needed in higher denominations. Our wallet only has spaces for notes up to a pound in value, so that suggests it had been around for some years before decimalisation.

At Market Lavington museum, we have various purses (see Flo Burbidge’s Purse and A leather purse). We also have plenty of coins, found locally by metal detectorists. If we put together a display about money, it would be great to have a pound note and a ten shilling note to put in this wallet. Do let us know if you kept any after 1971, which you would now like to donate to the museum.

A pitchfork

October 22, 2020

This wonderful picture of the Lush family haymaking on Salisbury Plain in the 1890s reminds us of how much has changed in over a century.

Farming can be a lonely job these days, with one worker driving a tractor in a large field. Back then, haymaking was less mechanised and it was a case of many hands make light(er) work. The cut grass has been dried and then moved by oxcart to where the haystack was to be built. (An ox can be seen on the far right of the picture.)

The hay was loose, not baled as it would be nowadays, and it needed to be moved from the cart and piled up to make a haystack. These haymakers do have an elevator to help with the process, but there was still a lot of work to be done with pitchforks. Several of the men can be seen holding long poles. A close up view of the man on the left, shows his pole with the two prongs of a pitchfork at the top.

In Market Lavington Museum, we have a pitchfork used by the Cooper family in the late 19th to early 20th century.

It is 5’3” long and 8” wide.

A leather purse

October 21, 2020

One of the recent donations to Market Lavington Museum is a small leather purse.

If we look inside, we can see its owner was M Burbidge. Either she was not the original owner or, maybe, she has scribbled over a maiden name.

Her married name was Louisa May Burbidge, the wife of Alf Burbidge. They lived in School House in Market Lavington, the cottage which now houses our museum.

People who knew her said she preferred to be called Mrs Burbidge.

Her small purse has a pretty floral design on the back. Mrs Burbidge died in 1954, so would never have known our decimal currency. These are the coins she would have known, all predating 1954.

A WW2 baby’s gas mask

October 20, 2020

During the 1939-1945 war, there was a fear that the Germans might attack with poison gas, so everyone in the UK was issued with a gas mask. At Market Lavington Museum, we have an example of the type of respirator issued to babies and children under two years old.

This one was supplied for local baby, Timothy Gye. In the case of a gas attack, the baby or toddler would be put in the apparatus, with its face behind the visor, its body enclosed in the rubberised canvas and its legs dangling below.

A hand pump was attached to the tubing at the side to provide air to the baby, which was passed through a filter on the side of the mask.

Fortunately, there was never a need to use the gas masks. The child’s safety could have been compromised by a lack of air, unless the hand pump was used nonstop throughout the attack, and the filter was made of asbestos, which is now known to cause lethal lung damage through asbestosis.

Gas masks in museum collections have to receive treatment from qualified conservators to remove the asbestos and respirators of any design should not be tried on.

A hand harrow

October 19, 2020

Arable farmers preparing fields for the sowing of seeds would normally drag their tools behind a tractor nowadays or, formerly, behind a horse or pair of horses. Soil that has been ploughed needs to be levelled out and broken down into a tilth suitable for sowing seeds, much in the way that a vegetable gardener might rake after digging.

The greensand areas in the northern parts of the parish of Market Lavington were well suited to market gardening and were worked in this way in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Growing on this scale required tools sized between those of the farmer and those of the domestic gardener.

In the trades room at Market Lavington Museum, we have some tools formerly used in Mr Sid Cooper’s market garden up on The Sands. This harrow is dated 1895. It has a handle 160cm long. The tool’s width is 88cm and it should have 16 iron tines, but one is missing.