Little Dorrit

Downstairs in our kitchen area at Market Lavington Museum we have a small stove whose function was to keep flat irons hot and ready for use.

Modern day irons would have seemed like total miracles back in great grandma’s day. She had no electricity with a thermostat to keep the temperature constant and no steam to deliver to help get the creases out. Ironing was a job of real skill – making sure a flat iron, heated on a stove, was not so hot it scorched things but was hot enough to do the job. And it didn’t just need skill, it required muscle as well for flat irons were heavy to lift but still required a firm push down when pressing the linen.

Because the irons soon lost their heat there was a need to have at least one iron warming on the stove whilst another iron was in use. But there were special irons for different work, so a well equipped set up would have a goodly range of different irons. And if you were rich or lucky, you had a stove like this one, dedicated to keeping the irons warm.

This Little Dorrit stove, for heating flat irons, can be found at Market Lavington Museum

This stove is called ‘The Little Dorrit’ and was made by Smith and Wellstood to a design first registered in 1878.
Our stove was once in the possession of Mr Joe Wells and family.


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2 Responses to “Little Dorrit”

  1. Jacqui Barrow Says:

    We have one of these stoves in a house we have just rented. Do they run on coal or wood only?

    • marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

      Apologies for a delay in replying. I looked at our stove today and I should say (without any degree of certainty) that it is designed to burn coal of a small size. Logs would need to be small to fit inside, but if yours is connected to a good chimney, why not try it. It can’t do any harm, can it?


      Curator and complete non-expert on stoves!

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