1923 Hospital Week

April 29, 2016

Back in the 20s and 30s the Hospital Week was carnival time in Market Lavington and Easterton. It was the time for dressing up and having fun and generally enjoying life. And at the same time money was raised to assist those in need with the cost of health care in those bleak days before there was a National Health Service.

Hospital Week in 1923. Fancy dress at Easterton pump

Hospital Week in 1923. Fancy dress at Easterton pump

This little group are clearly entering into the spirit of things and have themselves suitably attired for all the fun on offer – and to entertain those less able to take an active part.

For once, perhaps, it is the man who takes the eye.

 image003 This chap is dressed as a shell petrol man complete with a magnificent head dress and a suitable can as well as various Shell logos. Sad to say we don’t know who he is and neither do we know the ladies.


Any help identifying these people would be gratefully received.

The third lady appears to have done something seen as ‘non PC’ these days. It looks as though she has blacked up or at least darkened her facial skin.


The location is interesting for these people are by the Easterton pump which still stands on Kings Road, close by the bridge.

This clearly shows the chute for delivering water into a bowser. Farmers brought mobile water carriers or bowsers to the pump for filling. This helps to explain why the pump was built on quite a high stand.


Finding James Lye

April 28, 2016

James Lye is one of the more famous sons of Market Lavington. You won’t find much about him in history books for James was a humble gardener, working for much of the second half of the nineteenth century as the gardener at Clyffe Hall. Louisa Hay, the long term widow who occupied the hall must have been a bit indulgent with James for she let him have time for his passion – hybridising and showing fuchsias. If you dip a toe into the world of fuchsias you’ll come across the name of James Lye for his cultivars are keenly sought by experts.

We always knew James was buried in Market Lavington churchyard but extensive searches had failed to find his grave. Spurred on by an impending visit by Kristopher Harper, who runs the James Lye Fuchsia Collection, and by the recently given grave location books, we set about finding his grave location. Actually, it wasn’t easy, but with a bit of persistence and a small amount of lateral thinking it was discovered. Almost to our surprise there was and is a headstone. Knowing it was the right grave made it possible to make enough out on the grave to be sure we had found it. We ran it tight for a couple of hours later Kristopher was with us and standing by the grave. James died back in 1906.

Kristopher Harper of the James Lye Fuchsia Collection stands by the grave of James Lye

Kristopher Harper of the James Lye Fuchsia Collection stands by the grave of James Lye


Writing can be made out on the three tiers, but it isn’t readable so no wonder it had proved hard to find.

But it didn’t take all that much to uncover James Lye – not literally, of course – just the writing on the stone. Kristopher set to work with toothbrush and water.


Kristopher cleans the grave of James Lye

And there, clear as anything is the name ‘James Lye’.


After much more work the whole grave was readable. James’ wife Maria is commemorated on the side of the monument. So, too, are a number of their children. It is all clearly visible

We’ll return to this grave and family in the near future.

Kemmel Poolman takes a bride

April 27, 2016

Well, not really, for both Kemmel and his bride in this photo are little children.

Kemmel Poolman and Bess Gye in about 1925

Kemmel Poolman and Bess Gye in about 1925

Kemmel, obviously, is on our left and looks every bit the gentleman. He has been made up so well and clothed to perfection. Kemmel was born in 1918 so we place the photo at about 1925.

The caption on the back of the photo gives the bride as Bess. This would have been Bessie Gye – the same person as received the card of the shop in Easterton that we featured a couple of days ago.

Bess was born in 1917. She, too, has been beautifully dressed.

We don’t know the occasion but our best guess is that they were in fancy dress for a Hospital Week event.

What an utterly charming image.

Knapp Farm barns – a watercolour

April 26, 2016

Our stock of artistic interpretations of the local scene has increased considerably in recent times. Today we are looking at the Knapp Farm barns before their conversion to dwellings. Sadly this is unsigned and undated but we still think it is a lovely image.

Knapp Farm barns - a watercolour image

Knapp Farm barns – a watercolour image

This picture is in a sealed frame behind glass. The slightly squiffy angle of the photo prevented too much reflection off the glass.

This lovely gentle picture actually looks much like a photo of the scene we showed last August (click here). That dates from 1998. This could be a little earlier.

We think the artist may have been Patrick Manley but we would appreciate advice on that.

Easterton Shop – 1930s

April 25, 2016

We have recently gained a number of postcards of Easterton and this one has excited some interest. The scene is clear. The main focus of the photo is the shop – the one near the bottom of Easterton’s White Street and more or less opposite the Royal Oak pub.

Easterton shop in the 1930s

Easterton shop in the 1930s

The shop is made clear with a zoom in.

Tea and lamp oil are advertised

Tea and lamp oil are advertised

An advert for Brooke Bond tea is clearly visible and, possibly, a poster for a garden fete. The end building advertises Empire lamp oil.

But what generates interest is the factory style chimney beyond the shop.

The factory style chimney on Easterton Street

The factory style chimney on Easterton Street

As yet the purpose of this is unproven. Suggestions are that it could be a bakery or maybe a forge.

We’ll let you know when we discover its purpose.

This was a sent postcard. So let’s look at the back.

The back of the postcard

The back of the postcard

The recipient was Bessie Gye who became Bessie Francis. The senders were members of the Burnett family – well known in Easterton and previously shop keepers there. Bert and Elsie lived on High Street, Easterton. The date of sending appears to be 1938 but the postmark is not good.

Do help us sort out that chimney, if you can. Thanks.


Starched knickers for Mrs Redstone

April 24, 2016

Mrs Redstone was the schoolmistress at Easterton. Holders of such posts are not always popular with the children and that seems to have been the case revealed here. But let’s first see where Lucretia Redstone lived – a lovely photo of a house in Easterton, just opposite the school or rather where the school once stood.


Mrs Redstone, schoolmistress at Easterton lived here.

Sharp eyed folk will notice a couple of girls in the doorway. They are Mrs Redstone’s daughters, another Lucretia on the left and Mary on the right.

image003Mary was born around 1892 so this dates the photo to very early 20th century.

This, of course, has nothing to do with starched knickers. That comes in a tale from Peggy Gye, our museum founder who was asked to write a piece for the Bratton History Association journal in 1997. Peggy recalled:-

There was a little laundry in the village, which used a pony and trap to collect washing from its customers, some of whom would take their laundry home after it had been washed and iron it themselves, especially if they had daughters. A local man came to the Museum one day, and when he told me a little story about the laundry, I suddenly realised he was talking about my husband’s family. It appeared that my husband’s grandmother used to send her smalls to the laundry. The laundry woman’s little grandson didn’t like my husband’s grandmother who was his headmistress; he thought she was too strict. So he got his own back by starching her knickers.

There could be a moral here – avoid telling tales about people because in a village, your listener might be related to them. But in this case it was harmless enough. I suspect we all snigger just a bit at the thought of the prim and proper school teacher being made a tad uncomfortable by starched knickers!

And we have a chance to show you two ‘daughters’ of Easterton as well.

The Guides of 1926

April 23, 2016

According to the records, the Lavington guides held a camp at Paignton in 1925 and 1926. This must have been an enormous adventure for the young ladies. The journey is more than 100 miles and probably took the best part of five hours in a heavily laden charabanc. Such journeys by road would have been way beyond the norm for people 90 years ago. No wonder the charabanc and its load was recorded photographically.

The Lavington Girl Guides of 1926 went camping at Paignton

The Lavington Girl Guides of 1926 went camping at Paignton

We can’t identify the location but we do wonder if the charabanc was a part of the Fred Sayer fleet. We don’t seem to have a driver (who would surely have been a man) in sight.

And not surprisingly we don’t recognise the guides who came from the wider Lavington area.

The guides. Do you recognise any of them?

The guides. Do you recognise any of them?

The luggage is all stowed at the back of the vehicle.

Luggage for the camp

Luggage for the camp

We would, of course, love to know more.

Oak Lane from the air

April 22, 2016

This aerial photo, recently given to the museum shows the area around Oak Lane in Easterton. It was taken from the air but at a good angle to show buildings.

Oak Lane, Easterton, from the air

Oak Lane, Easterton, from the air

Down at the bottom right we have the pub – the Royal Oak.

The Royal Oak

The Royal Oak

This, of course, lines up with the High Street and has Oak Lane at the side.

Further up Oak Lane we get to Kestrels and Sparrows.

Kestrels and Sparrows

Kestrels and Sparrows

Kestrels, on the left was, once, the home of Ben Hayward. We think he named the house for he was a lover of birds and using them for hawking. The white house, Sparrows, was surely named as a kind of joking taunt to Kestrels, It had been the retirement home of James Lye, the gardener and famed fuchsia grower.

The post war development of Hayward’s Place is a turn off Oak Lane.

Hayward's Place

Hayward’s Place

What a lovely photo of this area. The photo dates from the 1990s.


Lavington Forum

April 21, 2016

Cherry Orchard Poultry Farm

We were given one copy of Lavington Forum some time ago and recently we have been given a couple more. They miss out on one crucial detail – the date of publication but we believe this copy of the Market Lavington School magazine dates from 1949.

Mavis Boulton designed the front cover for this edition of Lavington Forum produced at Market Lavington School in about 1949

Mavis Boulton designed the front cover for this edition of Lavington Forum produced at Market Lavington School in about 1949

This is certainly a bit battered and it has suffered the slings and arrows that time has thrown at it, but it is still in readable condition.

Let’s take a look at the article on the Cherry Orchard Poultry Farm.

Article on Cherry Orchard Poultry Farm

Article on Cherry Orchard Poultry Farm by Robert Sainsbury and Arthur Burt

Well done to Robert Sainsbury and Arthur Burt for telling us a bit more about this long gone Market Lavington business.

St Mary’s Church to Imber

April 20, 2016

It’s easy to forget now that once upon a time and still within living memory, real people lived in Imber and carried on real and very normal lives. One of our postcards of St Mary’s Church was sent to a recipient in Imber so we see not only a part of our own village but also get a reminder of our lost neighbour.

Lavington Church interior before the organ was moved

Lavington Church interior before the organ was moved


This is the village church here in Market Lavington in a colour tinted card. We know it is an early postcard because we can see the organ in its old place at the right of the church rather than behind the choir stalls where it is now. But actually, if you didn’t spot that this could have been a taken recently image for little has changed. The font cover, in the foreground is still the same. The pews haven’t altered. As is often the case the village church is unchanging or very slow to change.

Now let’s turn the card over.


Card reverse – sent to Mrs Meaden in Imber

We can see this was a Walton’s series card and it was posted in 1908 and it was sent to Mrs Meaden of 32 Imber. The message is what we’d send by text or some other electronic form these days. Annie is telling her aunt she’ll be home on Saturday evening.

We think Mrs Meaden was Anna the widow of Jack and that Annie, her niece was Annie Collins. But Meaden was about the commonest surname in Imber so we could be wrong there. But Anna Baker Meaden (née Sainsbury) was related to the Baker family who were white smiths in Market Lavington. Ida Baker of Market Lavington lived with her at the time of the 1911 census. She had become an Imber school teacher.


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