A rag rug

September 20, 2020

In our post A permanent display, we caught a glimpse of the corner of a rug on Market Lavington Museum floor, in front of the range. Here is the whole rug.

Hearth rugs were often put on the floor in front of a fireplace in the days before fitted carpets and central heating. They protected any larger carpet underneath from stray sparks when the fire was being poked. The kitchen floor in the old school cottage, which is now our museum, is made of brick. A rug by the range would have provided a bit of warmth for the feet of lady of the house.

We are told that our rug was made to a north country design, but was used in Market Lavington before making its way to the museum.

Our rug is hessian backed, but the backing is no longer sewn in place at one corner, allowing us to see the underside, where the rags are held in place with fawn wool. People still made rag rugs in the 1950s, but we doubt that many are made nowadays.

A Saxon floor tile

September 19, 2020

In Market Lavington, we are reminded of early inhabitants of our village by the street names Roman Way and Saxon Close. Our museum preserves the history of our neighbouring village, Easterton, too, where there have also been finds from those times. (See Roman Easterton for a glimpse of a Roman floor tile.) We have a fragment of a Saxon floor tile, found in Easterton, in our museum collection.

This floor tile, of fired clay, was found following excavation work in Oak Lane, Easterton. It was made by impressing a pattern into the clay with a die and then filling the depression with white clay. The surface was coated with glaze and fired. We think the whole tile would have measured about 12.5cm square.

This fragment suggests the tile might have had a design including a bird, as we may have a leg and talon on our piece.

Expert opinion dates our tile to sometime between 410 and 1066 AD. The art of making tiles like this then seems to have died out and been reintroduced from France in the 13th century, but with more complex designs.

A 19th century preserving pan

September 18, 2020

The title says it all, for we have very little information about this artefact at Market Lavington Museum.

Our records suggest this pan dates from the 19th century and is made of a copper alloy. It is quite heavy. Preserving pans are used for making jams and need a thick base to ensure the jam does not ‘catch’. Jams can require quite a long period of boiling to reach setting point and black burnt areas at the bottom of the pan should be avoided.

As preserving pans go, this is quite a small example, with a diameter of 23.2cm and a height of just 11.8 cm,excluding the handle.

Slop pails

September 17, 2020

Many of the home comforts we take for granted were not available, even within living memory, for older inhabitants of Market Lavington and Easterton. Electricity came to Market Lavington in 1927, mains water in 1936 and mains sewerage in 1958.

To have a wash before bed or in the morning, water would have been brought from a well in the garden or carried in buckets from the pump at Broadwell or the dipping well at Northbrook. Warm water would have been heated on the range or in a copper and taken upstairs in a wide mouthed jug, called a ewer. The water would have been poured into a bowl placed on a washstand in the bedroom. (See Wash ewer here!)

Without drainage, the dirty water was not able to flow away through pipework as nowadays. It would have been collected in a slop pail. We have two of these in Market Lavington Museum.

This white china slop pail has a carrying handle for taking the soiled water downstairs in the morning.

The contents could be covered with a china lid, with convenient lifting handle. (The view from our museum windows shows that we can be found at the edge of St Mary’s Churchyard.)

If you find the white pail a little mundane, you might like our elegant rose patterned version.

This too has a carrying handle and a lid.

A bowl for shillings

September 16, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum, our records suggest that this little wooden bowl might have been made locally. Whether that is the case or not, it has a story to tell, for it was used annually at the St Paul’s Day service in St Mary’s Church in the village.

Bishop Tanner, whose father had been vicar in Market Lavington, left a bequest in his will to benefit various people in the village. (For more information on the Bishop and his bequests see Bishop Thomas Tanner, The Bishop Tanner Christmas Coal Charity, The Bishop Tanner Charity and The Better Sort of Parishioner.) Amongst the many recipients of his charity were poor folk, who were given a shilling at the St Paul’s Day service and these coins were contained in our little wooden bowl.

Before the decimalisation of British currency in 1971, there were twenty shillings in a pound. Perchance, the bishop bequeathing the shillings was called Bishop Tanner and a tanner was the colloquial term for a sixpence coin, which was worth half of a shilling.

A sixpence (tanner) and a shilling (bob)

Twelve large old pennies made a shilling and 240 of them equalled one pound.

Back in 1735, when Bishop Tanner died, a shilling would have gone a lot further than its ‘equivalent’ 5p today.

We are told that the little bowl ended up as a rest for a smoker’s pipe, before being donated to the museum.

A saucepan and steamer

September 15, 2020

As Market Lavington Museum is housed in a Victorian cottage, we are fortunate in having a kitchen range in the building, which provides a focal point for our household displays. (See A permanent display)

On one side of the range, we have this saucepan.

It dates from about 1900 and comprises a very heavy pan, a lighter steamer and a lid.

It was made by Kenrick and the pan holds 12 pints. (That’s nearly 7 litres.) The base of the pan is 22cms in diameter.

Most modern kitchens have a cooker top with room for four pans and often have a separate electric kettle, but this range has space for just two pans, or a pan and a kettle. Being able to steam the vegetables over whatever was cooking in the saucepan would have been a practical solution to having limited hot plate space.

A sundial face

September 14, 2020

In the past, we have written about the sundial on St Mary’s Church in Market Lavington. (See Restoration of the Market Lavington Church Sundial – April 2004 and J L Maddox and sundials.) Now we will consider a much smaller sundial.

This rather battered, octagonal sundial face was dug up on the site of the Grove Farm housing estate in Market Lavington and given to the museum in 1986. We know nothing more about it. Who owned it? Where was it used? How old is it? All we can say is that it is a small object, measuring 8.75 cm across.

Looking at a modern sundial, we can see that sundials should have a ‘pointer’ called a gnomon fixed at rightangles to the dial face.

As the earth moves on its daily orbit, the sunlight shines on the gnomon from different angles and the shadow cast lines up with numbers on the dial face, indicating the hour.

10 o’clock

The little sundial from Grove Farm has lost its gnomon which, presumably, would have been fixed in place over the three holes.

Fancy plasterwork

September 13, 2020

We have considered the work of the plasterer when we looked at the cornice mould we have in Market Lavington Museum. (See A cornice mould and The cornice moulding tool again.)

We also have some small pieces of fancy plasterwork, saved from Market Lavington Manor.

This eight petalled rose would presumably have been central in the ceiling. Our records suggest it dates from the nineteenth century and might have been in the hall. Indeed Market Lavington Manor was only built in the middle of that century. It is now used as the junior boarding house of Dauntsey’s School in West Lavington.

We have one more piece of ceiling plasterwork from the same building.

This features two fir cones and a stem.

We are very short of photographs of the inside of this building and would love to know more about it if anyone has copies of pictures they would like to donate to the museum.

A washing dolly

September 12, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum we have various laundry items that would have been used in the days before washing machines. (See Wash Day Items). In many homes, Monday morning was taken up with doing the weekly wash.

In the front of this picture we see objects known as a washing dollies or possers. We will focus on one of these in more detail. Some dollies look like stools on a long handle, but the one on the right has a copper head.

It looks very familiar to our curator, who can remember using a similar one as a child in the 1950s. The museum posser is said to date from about 1910. A large barrel shaped container, called a dolly tub, was filled with hot water and soap flakes and the clothes were put in the water. It was good practice to start with the least grubby items, such as sheets, and to wash more soiled clothes later.

The posser was pushed up and down in the tub until the dirt came out of the clothes and into the water. Then the clothes would be lifted out of the hot water with wooden laundry tongs and squeezed through the rollers of a mangle, returning the surplus water to the dolly tub. The clothes were rinsed and mangled again before hanging out on the clothes line.

The base of this posser head has holes, allowing the entry of water squeezed from the clothes during the possing action. This water could then leave the head through the holes around the edge of the upper part of the posser.

Another candlestick

September 11, 2020

Recently we’ve looked at some of our candle holders (Candlelight, Candle holders) and may have looked back at The Candle Lantern. Today’s little item might have an interesting story to tell, if we did but know it.

It is the top part of a candlestick and was found in Market Lavington by a metal detectorist. Our records say it is lead/pewter. It certainly feels as heavy as a leaden object.

It is patterned with scrolls and lines and has a socket for a candle in its somewhat damaged top.

We do not know its age or what its base was like and whether it had a handle, so just appreciate it for what it is – another fragment of local history.