At Vicarage Farm

May 3, 2015

Vicarage Farm is in Easterton. It is on Vicarage Lane and is more or less opposite the former Vicarage which is now known as Easterton House. It is one of many small farms which once flourished on the sands in both Market Lavington and Easterton. These days they’d be deemed too small to offer a living, but in times past these farms supported families tolerably well.

Vicarage Farm was, for much of the twentieth century, owned and farmed by a branch of the Merritt family. Perhaps our best known local Merritt was John who was master of the Market Lavington Prize band for more than 60 years. But he had relatives throughout the area, and further afield and one of them, James Merritt acquired Vicarage Farm. Perhaps he took the photo because it is his wife, Elizabeth we see in the photo outside the house.

Vicarage Farm in Easterton

Vicarage Farm in Easterton


Elizaebeth Merritt (née Fitch)


Elizabeth and James married locally in 1910 but Elizabeth (née Fitch) was a Londoner by birth and spent her childhood in the Paddington area. It must have been a real shock to the system when her dad got a job as coachman at Market Lavington Manor and the family moved out to the country. But she settled and the photo suggests she was happy in her lot as a farmer’s wife.

James and Elizabeth are buried in Easterton churchyard.



The Nursing Home – Then and Now

May 2, 2015

Actually, our then photo is not from so very long ago. The Nursing home, in the old Vicarage building, was well established and in 1996 it was expanding. The old Parish Room had been demolished to improve the entrance and new accommodation was being built to cater for the needs of all sorts of elderly folk. In the summer of 1996 it was one big building site as seen in this photo.

Extensions being built at the nursing home in 1996

Extensions being built at the nursing home in 1996

The one person in the photo, in white shirt and tie, is presumably a site manager, checking the plans.

These days we might assume he was checking something on his smart phone, but such things, ubiquitous though they are now, were barely in use at all back then.

The former Vicarage is clearly visible and other buildings have that rather harsh look of brand new structures. But things soon mellow and eleven years on in 2007 we see a very similar view.

Nursing home in 2007

Nursing home in 2007

By then there was a neat and tidy entrance to the site. People are even less in evidence than they were in the building site photo but actually, the nursing home is quite a vibrant community and, as far as possible, very much part of our local community.




Mustard Ointment

May 1, 2015

Mustard Ointment was one of those remedies for many things that used to be popular and remain popular. In fact in some ways using unproven remedies is even more common these days. Science and scientists tend to get rubbished in the media. Many scientists are portrayed as the geeks who can’t communicate and get it wrong. And a mass of web sites and blogs, not to mention social media sites pass on unscientific hearsay as facts and people seem to believe that.

Which is not to say that mustard ointment still finds huge favour, except as a museum exhibit.

Mustard Ointment tin at Market Lavington Museum

Mustard Ointment tin at Market Lavington Museum

We know little about this product and have it dated as mid-20th century. Alex Parsons, the manufacturer, not surprisingly thought highly of its ability to create better, more lasting and stronger limbs, joints, neck and muscles.

He also tells us that the product is Blue Cross Quality, a phrase which seems to have little meaning here in the UK being much more widely used across the Atlantic.

Users are not advised of active ingredients.

Some people still use mustard medicinally. It seems to work as a counter irritant. You put some ointment on your skin and it takes your mind off the real problem.

Can anyone expand any further on that? And can anyone give us a more specific date for our tin?

Jam Factory Workers

April 30, 2015

To be fair, this photo might be called jam factory relaxers for it is clearly tea break time after what may have been felt to be a nerve wracking experience. For this was on the day that Princess Anne came to open an extension to the factory in Easterton on 30th April 1985 – thirty years ago.

Jam factory workers in 1985

Jam factory workers in 1985

The four people relaxing here are (from left to right) Philip Sadd – whose wife gave us the photo very recently – Terry Cullen, Anne Phillips and Mike Blanchard.

Of course, Anne Phillips was one of two people there with that name on that day, for that was then the name of Princess Anne who unveiled this plaque which we now have in the museum.

The plinth mounted plaque unveiled by Princess Anne

The plinth mounted plaque unveiled by Princess Anne

Houses now near completion on the site but at least we are able to retain memories of this once major employer at our museum.

April 1915

April 29, 2015

100 Years ago

At the end of March the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment moved to Dickebush in Belgium where they remained throughout April, taking turns in trenches at Voormezeel and Eizenwalle. It was usually quite quiet by day, but there was often a good deal of rifle fire during the nights. From 23rd April, they were aware of heavy gun fire to the north of Ypres. There were few casualties during April, and none from our villages.

The 2nd Battalion marched to La Gorgue in France on 31st March. They gave a concert in the Hotel de Ville in La Gorgue on 6th April. It was such a success they had to do a repeat performance the next night. They took their turn in trenches, but things seem to have been relatively quiet. Several men went down with measles. On 28th April they marched to Strazeele. A number of troops fell out on the march, owing to hot weather, and the long period of trench life, which was taking its toll.

Lyn Dyson

A view from 10 Parsonage Lane

April 28, 2015

The photo we see today was taken by former Market Lavington resident, John Brooke. John lived at 10 Parsonage Lane also known by its original purpose as the Racquets Court.

It’s a tall building and offers something of a bird’s eye view over part of the village. The photo dates from the 1960s.

A view from Number 10, Parsonage Lane in the 1960s

A view from Number 10, Parsonage Lane in the 1960s

We are looking along Parsonage Lane, over the crossroads and then up onto Lavington Hill.

You may wonder why Parsonage Lane is so called. The answer is that the Parsonage used to occupy the space where numbers 6 and 8 now stand. For reasons not known, but the subject of many rumours, the Pleydell Bouverie family decided to demolish the old Parsonage and replace it with the pair of semi-detached houses seen in this photo. The rather Tudor style chimneys on these 19th century homes is a good local sign to indicate ‘built by the Manor folk – the Pleydell Bouveries’.

The lovely piece of topiary had originally been the work of Edwin Potter. We note that in this high summer picture it casts a deep shadow on the next door house. These days the topiary has grown out but the same tree or a replacement will still cast those shadows. Both gardens look beautifully maintained.

Further down and on the right side of the photo we see the thatched cottage. That’s still retains its thatched roof.

Looking along Parsoange Lane

Looking along Parsoange Lane

Beyond we can see parts of White Street and up onto Lavington Hill.

Now that’s a quality colour photo for the time it was taken.


Miss Windo – mark III

April 27, 2015

We have met Miss Gladys Windo, head teacher at Easterton School and also the same Miss Windo, member of the St Barnabas Parochial Church Council.

Today we see Gladys in a third role.

Gladys Windo of Easterton in the Civil Defence Corps

Gladys Windo of Easterton in the Civil Defence Corps

Here we see Gladys in her Civil Defence Corps uniform – and she is looking very intimidating although she is remembered as a kind and caring lady.


Her badge is clear to read and shows a lion with a crown over it with the words around it and Wiltshire below.

The Civil Defence Corps existed from 1949 to 1968 and at its height there were some 330 000 personnel involved.

Judging from the age of Miss Windo in the photo, we think this is from the early days of the Civil Defence movement.

From what we know of the former Easterton teacher, it was typical of her to volunteer for a role in which she might have to take charge of helping people through an emergency situation.

A wedding to identify

April 26, 2015

Phil and Liz, who recently celebrated their Golden Wedding and who have lived in and around Lavington and Easterton for all of their lives, recently gave us this photo. It’s a very washed out photo of a wedding and Phil and Liz had no idea when, where or who. So now we, as well as they, require help from our readers.

Washed out wedding phot. It's hard to make out much of it!

Washed out wedding photo. It’s hard to make out much of it!

Well obviously nobody can do much with that original image but a few moments with a graphics program produced this.

Same photo, digitally enhanced and now recognisable as Market Lavington

Same photo, digitally enhanced and now recognisable as Market Lavington

There seemed more chance of identifying things in it now – and we have.

It is in Market Lavington. The house just behind the bride is Spring Villa. Above the coachman’s hat we see Ramscliffe. The railings visible at the left are part of the churchyard fence. The rather odd looking shelter has a tarpaulin which we think had come from or belonged to Neate and Son who look to have been house furnishers of Devizes. They were certainly trading around the start of the twentieth century. The April 9th 2015 Devizes Gazette and Herald actually has a 1906 nostalgia photo of their premises. It may give some clue to the date of the wedding.

The tarpaulin belonged to a company we know was in business in 1906

The tarpaulin belonged to a company we know was in business in 1906

We might even make the people a bit more recognisable although the photographer has not managed to get front views of faces.


There we see the bride and below we have the bowler hatted gent and the police sergeant.


Liz’s mother had been a Miss Fitch and Liz wondered if the coachman might be one of her Fitch relatives who was a coachman.


Other possible surnames in the photo are Merritt or (less likely) Francis.

Do get in touch if you are able to help us.

The Crowd at the Green Dragon revisited

April 25, 2015

A short while ago we published a photo of a crowd of people (mostly men) at the Green Dragon in 1950. Steve and Nicki at the pub hope to recreate a similar scene soon and the idea has attracted a lot of attention. And as a result we have the names of most of the people in the photo.

This was the photo.


Below we have numbered the people.


And now the names as supplied (some guessed) by Gordon and a couple of names suggested by Wilf. Thanks to both

  1. Mary Dawson, the landlady
  2. Jerry Dawson, the landlord
  3. Possibly the Dawson’s son
  4. Wilf Jenks
  5. Ed Potter (who was Mrs Elisha’s father)
  6. Terry Bolton (always known as Bimbo)
  7. Ron Ellis
  8. Ben Hurkett
  9. Charlie Golding
  10. Not known – possibly surname Cox
  11. Fred Burt
  12. Fred Hurle
  13. Aubrey Chapman
  14. Frank Potter, brother of Ed
  15. Mrs Cooper who was Aubrey Chapman’s grandmother
  16. Ernie Hayball
  17. Possibly Mr Cooper
  18. Puzzle Burt
  19. Possibly Wiggy Burgess
  20. Bill Sainsbury

Best of luck to the Green Dragon in doing their recreation.

Nasty Stuff

April 24, 2015

We suppose it is almost inevitable that in amongst our medical items at Market Lavington Museum we’ll have some nasty stuff. Coramine certainly falls in that bracket.

Coramine bottle at Market Lavington Museum

Coramine bottle at Market Lavington Museum

Apparently this was widely used in the mid twentieth century as a respiratory and circulatory stimulant. This bottle clearly says not suitable for injection and gives a dose of 1 to 2 millilitres.

This bottle was marketed by CIBA based in Horsham in Sussex.

This substance has been linked with murders, Hitler, and sports stars getting banned for using it. Apparently it is still available in some countries.

At least we can like the little dropper bottle which can be rotated to line up with the bulges in the neck of the bottle to allow drops of the contents to be delivered.

Our bottle is, of course, empty.


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