Around Fiddington Farm

September 18, 2021

Reading on through Vera Shergold’s essay on My Bit of Wiltshire, we come to a brief description of her house and realise that is has been there for a very long time, with parts apparently dating back to 1615. She wrote that ‘the front part is the original, and the walls are two feet thick, made of huge stones. The old beams, we believe, are relics from the days of wooden sailing ships.’ She said that her grandchildren were the sixth generation of her husband’s family to live there.

However, her next paragraph explains that Fiddington Farm is no longer a farm business, but just a family home, with extensive views.

Vera also enjoyed the local walks in that northern part of our parishes of Market Lavington and Easterton, writing that there

For further information and photographs of the places she mentions, see also More on the location of Maggot’s Castle. which shows the location of the three graves. There is a picture of the railway line in Tornado in Lavington and you can read more about Wroughton’s Folly in In search of Maggot’s, The Folly, More on the location of Maggot’s Castle. and More on Wroughton’s Folly

Dr Batter

September 17, 2021

This blog entry will, of necessity, be rather short as we know very little about its subject! Carrying on from our previous blog entry, we will continue to focus on the essay by Vera Shergold. We know (from Hugh Spencely’s book on The Hawthorns on Kings Road) that the Shergold family lived at Fiddington Farm. (Fiddington had been an exclave of West Lavington parish, despite being sandwiched between Market Lavington and Easterton.) Like its neighbours, Fiddington was long and thin and stretched from the chalk plain in the south, through a clay belt, to the greensand upland in the north, where Vera lived as an adult.

The next paragraph stated that Vera was warned by ‘Old Bill’ not to go and live there because ‘the old doctor haunts it’. However, Vera ‘was yet to hear of anyone who has seen the ghost of Dr Batter’. She wrote on that ‘Many centuries ago, this house was occupied by a very famous herb doctor, according to the old history books of Wiltshire.’ She recalled, ‘ I was shown a very old map on which this was marked as Doctor Batter’s house’.

We imagine this would have been the 1773 Andrews and Dury‘s Map of Wiltshire, on which this can be seen.

However, confusingly, ‘Village under the Plain – the story of Market Lavington’ (available from the museum or Market Lavington Post Office) suggests a different home for the herb doctor.

‘One of the early curers of ills, whose surgery in Market Lavington was the street outside his home, was Dr Batter, an 18th century herb doctor. Described as a genuine old-fashioned specimen of his class, Batter had humble origins and dressed as a poor man in a roadside cottage where his grandfather had lived before him. His patients’ waiting room was the hedgebank, and he would usually prescribe plants from the neighbourhood.’

Confused? We are, but would be glad to hear of any further information about Dr Batter.

We will look at more of Vera Shergold’s writing next time.

My bit of Wiltshire

September 16, 2021

Back in 1984, some of the members of Market Lavington and Easterton’s Darby and Joan Club wrote essays which were entered in a writing competition. Some of these have been printed in a booklet and we have a couple of copies of this in the museum.

The content of two of these essays is of local relevance. Both of these are entitled My Bit of Wiltshire. We will start by looking at part of what Vera Shergold wrote. She began with a childhood memory of visiting the area in the north of Market Lavington and Easterton, which later became her home.

It seemed that there was no rail service on a Good Friday, so it was safe to walk along the railway line from Lavington Station. (The railway line still runs through our parish, but Lavington Station has closed and the nearest station now is in Westbury.)

We are not sure but, maybe, the idyllic woodland described by Vera was in the vicinity of West Park Farm or Fiddington Farm. (Perhaps a local reader with a long memory could pinpoint Farm Woods for us.)

Elm trees would have been common in this area when Vera was young. Sadly most succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s and 80s. Now we are also concerned for some of the other large native trees she mentioned, due to Ash Dieback and Sudden Oak Death.

We will look at some more of Vera Shergold’s writing next time.

Another Burgess carte de visite

September 15, 2021

Alf Burgess was the village photographer, with a studio and shop on the High Street in Market Lavington. He set up business here in 1886 and worked there until his death in 1918, when two of his sons became the village photographers. See Alf and Marion Burgess for one of our many blog entries about this family and their work.

Cartes de visite were a very popular photographic format at that time and we have many of them in the museum. Sadly, we do not know who some of the subjects are, though the cards they are mounted on clearly attribute them to our local photographer.

If anyone recognises this gentleman in his woollen three piece suit and jaunty wing collar, do please let us know. (Wing collars became fashionable early in the 20th century and Alf Burgess died in 1918, so that gives us a guide to the age of the photo.)

Public indignation

September 14, 2021

Market Lavington is a long, narrow parish, spanning the greensand uplands in the north, the central clay belt and the chalk lands of Salisbury Plain. There were several hill farms on the plain up to and during nineteenth century and into Edwardian times. See, for instance, Candown Farm – then and now and The Cooper Family at New Farm or just use the search box to find many posts about these long gone homes and businesses. You can see Pond Farm as an agricultural concern but also learn that it had been sold to the War Department even during its later days as a farm, and that military camps were held there in the summer. (See Pond Farm Camp – 1909).

The villagers of Market Lavington and Easterton might not have been happy that the southern part of their parish was being taken over and they were invited to a public indignation meeting in 1908, to be held in the new parish room in Market Lavington.

The meeting was to be chaired by Charles Awdry. He had bought the manor house and land in Market Lavington in 1902 and he died in 1912. The remaining buildings and land were sold off in 1916.

The back of our copy of the meeting advertisement has been used for calculations, but we do not know to what they refer.

For non local readers, the land on Salisbury Plain is now part of a large military practice area, with very limited public access.

The infant class – 1949

September 13, 2021

We have already learned that Mrs Elisha was the infant teacher in Market Lavington for generations of children. We have seen her in An undated school photo. and many years later in An infant class. We see her again in today’s photograph of the infant school in 1949.

Our record card gives the date but no further details. We would be delighted to know the names of some of the children, so do please add a comment if you recognise anyone.

Mrs Jarley’s Waxworks

September 12, 2021

At Market Lavington Museum, we have a widely varied collection of artefacts. We receive all sorts of donations, providing they have a connection to Market Lavington or Easterton. One of our items is this little book.

Its local provenance is that it once belonged to a Mrs Cooper, who lived at The Sands in Market Lavington. Presumably she was involved in a dramatic performance, probably in the old wood clad village hall on the High Street, which opened in 1908, but can be seen pictured in Classrooms for the younger pupils – 1958. Scrawl at the top of one of the pages suggests that the play might have been rehearsed or performed about 1926.

The show would appear to have involved some acting and music and some characters needing to pose as motionless statues.

There would seem to have been a lot of roles.

Maybe the writing on this page has something to do with the casting.

We know what the characters were supposed to look like and what costumes they would have needed but, unfortunately, we do not have any photos of the performance.

The Mundy family – c. 1914

September 11, 2021

Mention the name Mundy to older residents in Market Lavington and many will have memories of Ken Mundy and Ken Mundy’s Shop. At the museum, we have a wonderful photograph, from over 100 years ago, showing older generations of the Mundy family.

We believe this dates from the time of the first world war. Still wearing Victorian style clothing, we see Mrs Mundy, who used to keep a grocer’s shop on the High Street. She is with her son and daughter. The young man, in military uniform, was the father of Ken Mundy, the cobbler. His sister, Elfie, married Harry Rainbird. (See The Starita Players. and The 1935 Silver Jubilee Committee.)

A National School New Testament

September 10, 2021

National Schools were founded in 19th century and provided elementary education, for the children of the poor. They later became part of the state school system in England and Wales. They were aligned with the teaching of the Church of England, so it is not surprising that they had copies of the New Testament.

We have one of these in Market Lavington Museum. There is nothing special about the book or its hard backed covers, but, inside, we have evidence of its local provenance.

White Street corner

September 9, 2021

We have previously seen a 1960s photograph taken At the Crossroads in Market Lavington. We have another one, looking in the opposite direction, down Church Street.

The label tells us that this image was taken by the then village photographer, Peter Francis. His address is given as White Street, the road going off to the left on this photo, but local people will remember him having a shop on Church Street. Indeed, there is a Kodak sign jutting out from the wall on the left of the window of the dark coloured building in the centre of this picture.

Nearby, a lady is standing with a child by an old school sign. That was to warn drivers about the school by the church, as that was not replaced with the new St Barnabas Primary School on Drove Lane until 1971.

The shop on the corner, Husseys, sold furniture, but is now run as a coffee shop, St Arbucks. The building beyond the school sign had once been a chapel, but was converted into a grocery shop, run at various times as Potter’s Stores, a Vivo shop, a Spar and Mr Dempsey’s.

In our early 1960s photo, the final shop visible has the name board Lucinda. It had formerly been Mr Godfrey’s, then Mr Pike’s butcher’s shop. It was later partially rebuilt with a red brick frontage and sold knitting wools for a while.

The hanging street lamp has long gone and the television aerials are also a reminder of times past.