The Smash on Lavington Hill

March 29, 2015

What do people expect under that heading? It would almost certainly not be what the postcard below shows.

The smash on Lavington Hill

The smash on Lavington Hill

It looks like a bunch of soldiers sitting around and waiting, which is probably just what they were doing. Actually, there’s quite a fearsome scene in the background, with a traction engine at a dizzy angle and trailers it was hauling all over the place with luggage scattered everywhere.

The traction engine with driver, believed to be Jimmy Oram

The traction engine with driver, believed to be Jimmy Oram

There we see the engine with a civilian engine man standing by, looking rather forlorn.

We have different stories about this card. Some say it was in 1907. Others say it was hauling Canadian officer luggage in 1914.

Somebody in the know will surely recognise if those men are Canadians?

Sitting and waiting - but who are they and when?

Sitting and waiting – but who are they and when?

Peggy Gye, who purchased a similar image, captioned it.


There’ll be no memories now, but maybe somebody could help with identification.

Making a Museum

March 28, 2015

Today’s blog is unashamedly about your museum which is now thirty years old. The museum is housed in the old school master’s cottage which was, handily, built just behind the school. Access is from the churchyard with no actual road access at all but museum visitors can park in the Community Hall carpark and have smooth access up the tarmac path to the church and then along the gravel path behind the church.

The cottage had been a family home until the 1950s and then in the 1960s the school took it over as additional accommodation. In the 1970s it was out of use and became derelict. Hard work and dedication were needed to make it suitable for a museum.

One thing that was needed was a new staircase and here we see the new staircase in the course of construction.

Thje main section of staircase is 'offered up to the job'.

The main section of staircase is ‘offered up to the job’.

That looks more complete

That looks more complete

Yes, it reaches the upstairs area

Yes, it reaches the upstairs area

When all building work was completed, the museum was ready to open and here’s an early view of the staircase area.

Staircase complete and museum open

Staircase complete and museum open

Thirty years on and some of the signs fixed to the wall above the stairs have just been moved for we have added a second bannister rail on the wall side. And for good or ill, our museum is now much more crowded with artefacts. It would be lovely to have more spacious displays. We have the problem faced by many a museum of whether to display and make things a bit cramped or store things for researchers to see on request. We try to display your items – all are given by you to the museum – as much as possible.

We, of course, think we have a great museum, full of interest for both local folk and those from further afield. Do pay us a visit in our thirtieth season.

The Grove in 1972

March 27, 2015


Yesterday we looked at a water colour of the grove in 1986. Today we have the opposite view in a black and white photo from 1972.

The church across the Grove in 1972

The church across the Grove in 1972

The photographer may have selected a rather grey day for this photo which shows a view across the fields of Grove Farm to the church. The Grove Farm buildings are to the right of the church and beyond them we see more of the village and the scarp slope of Salisbury Plain.

To the left of the church we can make out what is now our museum – your museum in fact for it is the Market Lavington Museum.

Museum and Old House

Museum and Old House

That’s our museum building just to the left of the pole. Further left and apparently sheltering under branches of the cedar tree we have The Old House.

The photo, of course, was taken long before houses were built on the former fields of Grove Farm. It’s a very different view today with mixed modern houses providing needed homes for many people.

The Grove – a water colour

March 26, 2015

Many people say that a photograph may capture the truth but a painting captures the spirit of the place. So perhaps, today, we are capturing the spirit of The Grove area or perhaps our artist has caught the spirit of the past.

The artist set up his easel somewhere near the church and looked out to the west over what was still, then, the fields of Grove Farm.

The Grove - a 1986 water colour by Norman Miller

The Grove – a 1986 water colour by Norman Miller

Beyond the pastoral scene, with grazing sheep we see a more sylvan backdrop which, perhaps, makes Lavington School look just a bit surprising.  The houses on Park Road do seem to lead the eye to the school building – very much in the style of the 1960s.

Beyond the trees there’s a hint of Salisbury Plain and above all, cumulous clouds rise up to mask most of the blue sky.

The artist was Norman Miller (1906-1995) who worked, this time, in water colours. This was painted in 1986.

Norman, a retired church minister, lived in Easterton. We have a couple of his paintings in the museum.

Market Lavington women – 1920s

March 25, 2015

This photograph shows a collection of local women in what we believe are red, white and blue aprons. A couple of the aprons are definitely styled as union flags. Others are in quite a variety of designs. We do not know what the event was, but there would not seem to have been any royal event to warrant this show of patriotic colour, unless it was the birth of the King’s granddaughter, Elizabeth in 1926. But back then she was not expected to become queen. So maybe this event was the usual dressing up for the hospital carnival week.

Colourful ladies - in black and white. Believed to be in the 1920s

Colourful ladies – in black and white. Believed to be in the 1920s

We have the ladies named, from left to right as:

Mrs Hurd, Mrs Razey, Mrs Tasker, Mrs S Coleman, Mrs Stiles, Mrs Tucker, Mrs Chapman, Mrs E Potter, Miss N Hiscock, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Clark, Mrs Pike, Mrs Davis and Mrs Burgess.

It’s a shame we don’t have first names and, in the spirit of the time, the two married ladies with initials have been given their husband’s initial. Even so, those initials allow a probable identification to be made.


Mrs S Coleman was probably Alice Emily, born in 1874 as Alice Emily Leonard. Her father worked at Fiddington Asylum. Alice married Stephen in about 1903. The Coleman family lived on High Street.


Mrs E Potter was probably Mary Ann, born about 1881 as Mary Ann Pike. She married Edwin Potter in about 1904. Amongst their children at the Parsonage Lane home there was the future Mrs Elisha.


Miss N Hiscock was probably Nellie (Elenora) born about 1884 She had lived at Platencia on Church Street at one time.


We’d be delighted if anybody could tell us anything about the other ladies.

All change

March 24, 2015

No, this is nothing to do with asking all passengers to alight from a bus. It just shows a part of Market Lavington which looks entirely different now, from when the photo was taken. We believe that was in 1967 – some 48 years ago.

The Market Place - 1967

The Market Place – 1967

We are looking at a corner of the Market Place. It is the corner closest to the Co-op shop. Back then the village centre phone box was in the Market Place. It got moved to the crossroads and is still there but probably gets very little use now. The end building was in the throes of demolition when the photo was taken. That included the gable end and tall chimney we see. At least the remainder of that building survives as the Co-op, now the only grocery store in Market Lavington and Easterton.

Knapp Farm Barn

March 23, 2015

The second half of the 1950s was a time when wartime austerity was ending, we’d ‘never had it so good’ and it was time to get rid of old fashioned things and replace them with new. And that is precisely what happened to this barn.

Knapp Farm barn in 1957

Knapp Farm barn in 1957

This is a 1957 photo and work is in progress to remove the thatch from the barn roof.

Work is in progress to remove the thatch from the roof

Work is in progress to remove the thatch from the roof

There we see (just) a couple of men working on the barn roof with a tractor and trailer down below for collecting the discarded old thatching straw. The farmhouse can be seen beyond the barn and the photo must have been taken from somewhere near Broadwell.

This was very much an era for the removal of thatch. On dwelling houses it was replaced by tiles but a former thatched roof can often be picked out because they are much more steeply pitched than a standard tiled roof.

On a barn, it was deemed OK to replace the tiles with asbestos sheeting! Like Jesus on the cross, we must forgive the people who did this for at the time it was true to say, ‘they know not what they do’.

Some of this barn area has now been converted into desirable dwellings – ‘White Horse Barns’. That means these buildings look smart and tidy – far removed, of course, from their original purpose.

The Hollow

March 22, 2015


These days there is an area of ‘set-aside’ land alongside the road up Lavington Hill. It is probably supposed to be a belt of land reserved for wildlife – and all credit to the farmer for trying. But it is a very popular spot for dog walkers so the chances of, say, lapwings nesting there are singularly remote.

Up until the 1960s this area was very different in form for a deep trench ran from the area we still call The Hollow up the hill. An early 1960s colour print photo shows the scene.


The Hollow in about 1960. We are sorry that the colour rendition is so bad.


Clearly, the colour rendition is very poor. It was a green and not a somewhat pink scene.

We are looking down the hill towards the village. At the bottom of the gulley we see the house in The Hollow and beyond that we can make out the houses on Lavington Hill and St Mary’s church. It looks better converted to grey scale.


An enlarged section of the same family but made into a black and white image

An enlarged section of the same family but made into a black and white image

The Hollow was filled with rubbish, levelled and then cultivated by Mr Snook who farmed the land back in the 1960s.

Pond Farm – then and now

March 21, 2015

Pond Farm is one of the lost farms on Salisbury Plain. It was an active farm until about 1910, albeit its piece was disturbed by the summer regimental camps which took place there.

Then it became part of the artillery range on a permanent basis. Occupants moved out and farming ceased.

Here we merge two pictures. One dates from the Edwardian era and is, of course, black and white and shows the farm in its remote setting.

The second dates from 1977 which at 38 years ago is hardly now, but these days there is no public access to the area. Back then it was possible to recognise the area as the same. The 1977 picture is in colour and no doubt it looks much the same today.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The pictures should merge, one into the other, every few seconds. There are arrows to click if you feel a need to speed things up.





March 20, 2015

When school prizes were awarded in times past they were often books with a very morally correct storyline. Jacko would appear to be such a book.

Jacko - a story for the young

Jacko – a story for the young

Jacko is a story for the young by Hariette E Burch.

The book was published in 1893

The book was published in 1893

 As we can see it was published in 1893. It has a frontispiece picture.


But the book is plain text after that and the final paragraph reveals the message the book intends to pass on to young readers.


So what has this all got to do with Market Lavington or Easterton? The answer is that this book was a school prize given by Market Lavington Boys’ School. An inscription tells us about this.

The inscription in the book

The inscription in the book

As we can see this award was given by Mrs and Miss Hart on August 9th 1894. The recipient was George Ward for his regularity (never absent), punctuality and marks. The book is signed by Mr Duck who was the master in charge of the school.

The prize presenters were Mary Ann Hart, widow of a house decorator and her daughter Alice who, at the age of 34 was described as a retired school mistress on the 1891 census. The two ladies lived on Church Street, very close to the school.

The recipient was George Ward. George was the son of William, a Market Lavington born pig butcher. In the early years of his marriage he had moved around a bit. George had been born in Fleetwood in Lancashire but by 1894, the time this book was presented, the family were well established at the property next to the current Post Office. George did not have far to walk to school.

In adult life George settled in Melksham where he worked hard amongst the community. The former secondary school in town – The George Ward School – was named after him.

John Duck was the school master. He had been born in Easterton in about 1865 but by 1894 was living with wife and family on High Street in Market Lavington – near to where the nursing home is now.

What a great item this is.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 251 other followers