Another Milsom’s bill

May 6, 2021

We have already seen A bill and receipt from Mr Milsom. Reginald Milsom ran Milsom’s Garage in Market Lavington, assisted by his daughter, Marjorie. The bill in our previous blog dates from 1950 and is handwritten.

Things had moved on a bit by 1957. A bill from that year had a different design on its billhead and was typed.

Mr Carter had obviously had a problem with his car engine and work was needed on the big ends. That work was done in March and a battery was charged in April, costing half a crown. (Some people had a trickle charger and charged their own car batteries at home.) However, the bill was only settled towards the end of May.

Photographer’s bills

May 5, 2021

For many decades, Market Lavington was the home to photography businesses, first run by the Burgesses on the High Street and later by Peter and Bessie Francis on Church Street.

For more information, see Peter Francis – his home and shop and Peter Francis’s Letter Scales.

Amongst our collection of bills at Market Lavington Museum, we have several from Peter Francis.

They do not feature pictorial billheads, but do give us an indication of the range of services provided.

This bill shows that cameras were brought to his shop for repair. On this occasion, the camera required replacementt bellows. The parts were less than half of the cost, the rest being made up of labour charges, postage and purchase tax.

For readers unfamiliar with the concept of a bellows camera, this concertina like device enabled a compact camera, such as this Zeiss Ikon to have its lens moved forward to allow focussing.

Open with lens moved forward by bellows

Our next bill is from 1959, a time when colour photography was becoming popular with the general public. Many people took colour slide pictures, which needed a projector and screen to display them.

A projector costing almost £20 was a considerable financial outlay in 1959.

Peter Francis was not only a retailer of photographic supplies, but also a professional photographer, taking photographs of local and family events and developing and printing them for clients. He and Bessie took a lot of wedding photographs, for example. It would appear that, in 1962, our purchaser, Mr Carter, had employed Peter Francis to take photographs and produce proofs so that he could select those he wanted printing and mounting

Over the years, photographic equipment changed and people were able to buy equipment which was smaller and simpler to use. By 1972, Mr Carter had decided to invest in an instamatic camera.

So, our very basic artefacts have enabled us to witness photographic history over fourteen years, from a time when it was worth repairing an old bellows camera, through colour slides and their projectors to point and shoot cartridge film cameras. Neither Mr Carter nor Peter Francis would have realised at that time that many of us would now be using portable telephones to take photographs, which we could download ourselves onto personal computers.

Market Lavington war memorial – but when?

May 4, 2021

We have recently acquired a postcard of the war memorial in St Mary’s Churchyard in Market Lavington.

Many of the postcards in our museum collection were produced by Alf Burgess or his sons, who ran the village photography business for many years. However, this is not one of theirs. The reverse side of this unused postcard merely reads, Postcard, with the words Communication and Address Only designating the areas to be written on. It does not even inform us that the picture is of Market Lavington, but we have enough local knowledge to recognise that it is. However, dating the picture is rather more of a problem.

Obviously, it was taken after World War I as it commemorates the local servicemen who lost their lives in that war. Our blog Dedicating the St Mary’s War Memorial informs us that this event took place on 15th August 1920, so our postcard is likely to be from at least a couple of years after the end of the Great War. That blog shows close ups of the names on the plaques, which are in alphabetical order of surnames. But Walter H Collins is inscribed out of order at the end of the list, after W surnames. Close scrutiny of our postcard shows that his name had not been added to the final plaque until after the photograph was taken. However, we do not know when this extra inscription was made, so cannot use that information to help us date the picture.

We do know that our postcard must predate the addition of the names of World War II casualties to the memorial. This 2015 photograph (© WMR-3174) from the Imperial War Museum’s site on war memorials, clearly shows the stonework added to the memorial, below the WWI inscriptions, for the plaques with the names of the servicemen who died in the second world war. These are not on our postcard, which must therefore be an interwar picture.

Beyond the churchyard wall and the roof of the bier house, built in the 1880s, we can see some lettering on a building in Church Street. It is on The New Inn, whose name changed to The Drummer Boy in the 1970s. The writing above the archway was also there on this earlier postcard. The top line reads Usher’s Fine Ales and, below, are the words Good Stabling and Cycling Accommodation. (The pub name had to change from inn when it ceased providing accommodation.)

For more information about this Church Street postcard, see Hopkins and the New Inn and Opposite Market Lavington School.

More from Emma’s album

May 3, 2021

We have already seen Emma’s Album and Emma’s album again and realise that the sentimental poems written in it about 180 years ago are quite faded and difficult to read in their entirety, although we can get an impression of the content from lines such as –

Virginia – If I were like thee, lovely child, So happy and gay, I would not care where …

and – I think of thee dearest when lovers are sleeping, I’ll …. all are away.

As is often the case in old books, we find that they were used to press flowers or leaves.

Although the writing isn’t always clear, there are a few more pictures in the album, which we can share.

Above the cockerel are written the words ‘Does your mother know you are out?’

Finally, there are two pictures of ladies in period costume. This one is probably a printed portrait.

The final one at the back of the book is a very faint pencil drawing, with the name Muriel Blake just below the hemline of the dress.

St George’s Day at the Drummer Boy

May 2, 2021

The Drummer Boy in Market Lavington is one of the many public houses that has now closed.

It has featured in this blog on several previous occasions. ( See The Drummer Boy Pub, Drummer Boy memories, A memory of the Drummer Boy and The Drummer Boy Pub Sign.)

However, it was certainly open for business in 2006, when it put on a St George’s Day event. We have the programme for this in Market Lavington Museum.

Monies raised from the event were to support the Wiltshire air ambulance though, no doubt, there was the hope that it would bring in lots of customers and raise drinks sales too.

The events were not just on St George’s Day, but spanned three days and were not solely confined to the pub premises.

There were various entertainment acts in the evenings. The duck race was at Broadwell, presumably starting near White Street and heading downstream towards the pub. We assume the football, basketball and golf competitions would have taken place away from the pub, although many of the other events, eating and drinking would have been on site.

Hussey’s the furnishers

May 1, 2021

Although we refer to Market Lavington as a village, nowadays, it had been quite important as a shopping centre for surrounding villages and sold a wide variety of goods.

In our museum collection we have a bill from Husseys from July 1959. Mr Carter bought a bedstead, but we are not sure what a 4 foot S.I.M. might have been.

The Hussey family had been involved with furniture for several generations, as cabinet makers (see Henry Hussey requires information) and then owning the furniture shop on the corner of Church Street and White Street.

The crossroads in the village was known as Lamb Corner and this blog about the area includes a picture of Hussey’s shop in 1960s.

We see their shop again in this postcard from about 1970.

The postcard below is undated, but probably an earlier view of the furniture shop.

There is no furniture shop in Market Lavington now. At the time of writing in 2021, this site is occupied by a coffee shop.

A Doubleday and Francis bill

April 30, 2021

There has been a butcher’s shop in Market Lavington for a very long time and it is still present in the centre of the village. Now trading in the name of Douse (see our previous blog), it was formerly owned by the Doubledays, later Doubleday and Francis. For further information and photographs, see The butcher’s shop, Butcher’s vans and Butcher’s delivery.

At Market Lavington Museum, we have a bill headed Doubleday and Francis, written in 1940. Nowadays, we think of paying for our food at the time we purchase it, but our old bills often indicate that settling up was done at a later date. Maybe this was due to provisions often being delivered, in this case in the butcher’s van, and the purchaser might have paid the bill later, in the shop.

In this instance, the Drury’s bill was written on 20th July 1940 and payment was received on 1st August. Ten pounds (about 4 1/2 kg) of salt pork cost 11 shillings and 8 pence, so this meat was priced at 1s.2d per lb (pound weight).

The billhead itself contains some fascinating detail.

We see that this butcher’s business was established in 1730 and that they not only sold the raw meat, but made sausages and rendered the pig fat into lard for sale to their customers.

The telephone number reminds us that Lavington had its own exchange, before local telephones were transferred to the Devizes exchange. The two digit ‘phone number is evidence that far fewer people had their own phones back in the 1940s.

The coat of arms shows a pig, a sheep and a cow along with three people, one of whom has a butcher’s cleaver. The Latin text is also pertinent. It comes from Psalm 145, which translates in the King James Bible as ‘Thou givest them meat in due season.’

Butcher’s billheads

April 29, 2021

There has been a butcher’s shop in the building opposite the Market Place in Market Lavington for hundreds of years. (See and The butcher’s shop.) The present owners have traded there since 1964 and, in Market Lavington Museum, we have some billheads from the Douse butcher’s shop dating from the 1980s and 1990s.

We can see that the Douses used to have shops in both Devizes and Market Lavington, but that the Devizes address was crossed through on later bills.

By 1998, a new style billhead was used, with just the Market Lavington shop printed at the top.

These might seem rather recent to have become museum items, but we rely on items being saved now to become history in the future.

(See also A butcher’s bag.)

Robert and Lea Merritt’s family

April 28, 2021

We have already seen A Family Bible belonging to the Merritts in the late 1700s and noted that some of their children were vaccinated against smallpox (They was nockalated).

Robert and Lea had a lot of babies between 1778 and into the 1790s and their births were recorded on the first pages of the bible.

Their first child was John and he arrived on the 5th day of November at 6 o’clock in the morning in the year of 1778.

Their next child was a daughter, Jane, born at 5 o’clock in the morning on 30th December 1780.

The following births were also recorded with names, dates and times.

Robert – 1782, William – 1784, James – 1785, Elizabeth – July, year illegible, Thomas – 1787, Ann – 1788, Sarah – 1790, Elizabeth – 1791, Ann – 1794, William – December, year illegible.

Some of the names are used twice, so we imagine not all the infants survived, but deaths aren’t recorded in this bible.

It is, perhaps, pertinent that one of the church services (printed in our volume before the actual bible commences) is the Churching of Women.

Market Lavington Museum under wraps

April 27, 2021

Market Lavington Museum is housed in a building erected as a home in the 1840s and is feeling its age. At the time of writing, in Spring 2021, we await some essential building work .

Normally, we take a pride in displaying artefacts connected with the history of Market Lavington and Easterton and enjoy sharing them with our visitors.

This is how the kitchen, with its range, looks in normal times.

With builders expected imminently, we needed to move and protect items on open display and the scene in the kitchen at present looks like this.

There is a similar situation in the living room, with displays dismantled, artefacts wrapped and protected and stored away from dust and damage.

When the remedial work has been completed, we will take the opportunity to freshen up the paintwork, consider which items need relocating and then begin work on new displays.

We apologise for being unable to reopen in May as we would have wished and look forward to welcoming back our visitors when all the work has been done.