A Turf Lifter

At the recent Easterton Country Fair, a stallholder dashed home to bring the museum a tool he had found in his shed. He thought it might have been a paddle used for lifting bread from a bread oven. These items were known, variously as paddles, peels or even shovels.

A quick glance at the offered tool was enough to rule out the idea of a bread oven tool. Those peels were usually 100% wood and very straight. The picture below comes from http://www.oldandinteresting.com/bread-peel.aspx and shows a peel in use.

A baker's peel in use

The offered tool was metal (and had lost its handle. It also had a large bend in the shaft which would not have gone into a bread oven. It certainly looked more like a gardening or agricultural implement.

Our new tool was certainly not a peel

So, we knew what it wasn’t, but nobody at the fete could tell us what it was. Our curator searched the web for ideas, but it isn’t easy to find items if you don’t know what search words to type in.

But if the web fails, there is always a chance that a local expert might be able to help. So, the next day, the tool made its way to Tom Gye, widower of our late and much missed founder, Peggy. As luck would have it, Tom had relatives with him and one of them had worked in a place displaying tools like this. In fact Tom and both his visitors all knew that it was a spade for lifting lawn turf.

Now once you know that you can find similar items, on sale today, listed on the World Wide Web – sometimes under the name of a sod lifter.

The new tool at Market Lavington Museum is a turf lifter

Our curator has pretended, here, to fit a handle to show how it might be used. In truth, the handles are longer to avoid quite so much bending and, of course, the cutting blade needs to be below the turf.

For the next question, does anybody knew why such a tool was used in Easterton? Amongst users, these days, are grave diggers and sports grounds men.

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