Wheelwrighting supplies

September 26, 2021

Gye’s Yard on White Street in Market Lavington was where Wheelwrighting was carried out for many years. You can see The Wheelwright at work – fitting a tyre. by clicking this link. Tom Gye, husband of our museum founder, Peggy, was a member of this family of builders, who had formerly employed a blacksmith and wheelwright too. You can read Tom’s Wheelwright memories here.

Tom donated a leaflet to the museum, advertising supplies for wheelwrights, which had been kept since the early 20th century.

The prices, in shillings and pence, are to be found inside.

The closed smithy

September 25, 2021

Both Market Lavington and Easterton used to have blacksmiths. We have charming photos of Easterton Smithy (see also The Easterton Smithy). Market Lavington’s blacksmiths worked by Broadwell and at Gye’s Yard on White Street. All these smithies have now closed, but this blog isn’t about our local workplaces.

At the museum, we have this small poster from 1908. It was addressed to Farmers and Agriculturalists and listed all the foodstuffs imported in 1908 and was concerned that work previously done in this country was now being done abroad, causing local businesses to close. It was promoting the perceived need for tariff reform.

A Burbidge photograph album

September 24, 2021

This is one of the treasures of Market Lavington Museum. Local photographs are always appreciated, but one belonging to the Burbidge family is extra special as they lived in the cottage beside the churchyard in the village from 1907 to 1954 and that building became our museum in 1985.

Mr Burbidge was a gardener by profession and his own garden was well tended, before the school took over the building and turned the garden into a playground. Here we see his daughter, Flo, beside the house, surrounded by sunflowers.

Unfortunately, none of the photographs are labelled. We would love to know the story behind this one.

For more information about the Burbidge family, see The Burbidge family at home, Flo Burbidge, The Burbidge Family revisited and Dorrie Burbidge Relaxes.

Plaited newspaper

September 23, 2021

This is one of the stranger artefacts in Market Lavington Museum.

It is made from four strips of newspaper, neatly plaited together.

Fortunately, its donor gave us some information about it. It dates from 1885 and was used by members of the Gye family of Market Lavington as stiffening in clothes.

Ernest Hiscock again

September 22, 2021

We have already met Ernest Hiscock on this blog, as we have some of his army discharge papers in Market Lavington Museum. Besides the one in our previous blog, we have another, giving a little more detail about this man, who was born in Market Lavington about 150 years ago.

When he left the army, aged 35, he was a plumber, although he had worked in agriculture in Market Lavington before he joined up.

He was quite a short man, at 5 foot 5 inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair, with a scar by his right eyebrow.

Village activities in 1958 and1984

September 21, 2021

When Rowena Campbell Trigger had to research Market Lavington for her 1958 teaching practice work, she was required to find out about local amenities and activities.

This was her list produced in answer to the questions above.

The essays on My Bit of Wiltshire in the Darby and Joan Club booklet were written in 1984. Vera Shergold and Eva Kirby both gave an overview of some of the clubs and activities on offer in Market Lavington in that year. Vera just mentioned the activities she was involved with – the Women’s Institute, the Darby and Joan Club and the Homely. Eva gave more details of the range of activities on offer to adults and children.

Many of these activities are still on offer, such as the Women’s Institute, the churches, scouting and guiding groups, playschool, bell ringing and football. Some, we think, no longer take place in Market Lavington, such as the Old Comrades and the youth club. Other clubs, not mentioned in our 1958 and 1984 sources, are available now, many in our modern Community Hall. These include the Monday Club, table tennis, a community choir and Qigong.

We would really welcome an up to date account of all that Market Lavington has on offer nowadays. This would be a useful addition to our museum collection. The museum covers Easterton too. Perhaps one of our readers could supply a list of the activities on offer there, too.

Over to you, local readers of the museum blog!

Hatching a plan

September 20, 2021

Most of the items in Market Lavington Museum have been donated. They have an entry form filled in with details of the donor and a description of the object. Later it will be formally accessioned, given a museum number and a storage location. That’s what should happen but, sometimes, this is not the case.

For years and years, there have been some egg boxes on a shelf in the storeroom, with no numbers or information about their donor or connection to the locality.

Inside, carefully wrapped and labelled, are the blown shells of wild bird eggs.

Collections of this sort were probably more common a few generations ago. Bird nesting, as a hobby, is not compatible with the ethics of nature conservation, but we can’t undo the past and the eggshells might arouse our visitors’ sense of wonder at the natural world. In the museum we do now have chests of glass topped drawers where these 21 eggs could be displayed safely.

Our museum also has a couple of accessioned items of ornithological interest. We have a copy of a booklet compiled by John Legg – a Market Lavington Naturalist, written in 1780. He was sharing his understanding of the summer and winter migrations of birds.

We also have a copy of a hard to read handwritten journal by Ben Hayward of the house named Kestrels in Easterton. This book includes farming information, notes of places visited, dates of marriages and deaths and the like. Benjamin Hayward took an interest in birds and noted sightings of them.

This is an excerpt from one of the clearer to read pages.

It starts with recording that, on April 13th and 14th1866, he saw the first swallow and heard the first ‘cooccoo’. There are many such references throughout the journal.

So, we are hatching a plan that, maybe, when we finally manage to re-open the museum after its closure due to Covid and then through building work, we will have a display featuring birds and ornithologists.


September 19, 2021

Rather like a photograph, the essays in the Darby and Joan booklet provide a snapshot in time. They date from 1984 and Vera Shergold’s and Eva Kirby’s contributions describe the amenities in the village of Market Lavington at that time.

Vera just provided a very short description, noting that Market Lavington, about a mile and a half by footpath from her home at Fiddington Farm, was where she shopped and went for some social activities. She also included a brief description of Easterton.

The final pot of jam was produced by Easterton’s jam factory in 1998.

In 1984, Eva Kirby was a newly arrived resident, but she provided a detailed account of the local services available at that time.

At the time of writing this blog, in 2021, we are aware that some of these facilities have gone or changed. This was the village hall referred to by Eva.

It has since been demolished and replaced by a larger brick building on a different site. Among the Community Hall Users are the congregation of Trinity Church, for the chapel building in Eva Kirby’s essay is now a house. The newsagents, bank, estate agents, one of the grocery shops, the furniture shop, fruit shop, clothes shop, photographers and hardware shops are also consigned to history.

Over the page, Eva added a few more shops and services.

The fish and chip shop is still there but, of the four pubs, only one remains. On the plus side, we now have a chemist’s shop in Market Lavington.

We are very grateful to Market Lavington and Easterton’s Darby and Joan Club for providing us with this snapshot of 1984. We will look at the local clubs and activities listed in their essays on another occasion.

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.