Before Lavington School

We commented, recently, on how the old Market Lavington School suffered from lack of space. Student teacher Rowena Campbell Trigger recorded these classes in her 1958 survey.

Market Lavington School classes in 1958

So, there were five classes but only three rooms. Other halls in the village were pressed into service.

Relief came in 1962 when Lavington Secondary Modern School opened. Secondary education had been available to those who passed the 11plus exam. Devizes Grammar School was open to them. But for the majority, until 1962, they started and finished their schooling at Market Lavington School.

Our picture today shows the site chosen for the new Lavington School, along The Spring and close to the parish boundary with West Lavington. This new school was to serve a range of local villages, taking the children aged between 11 and 15 from quite a wide area and providing them with specialist classrooms and teaching.

Lavington School playing fields – before the school was built

This picture dates from about 1958. Some of the items visible in the photo, taken by Peter Francis, tell us something of the history of the area.

The biggest, central item is the huge Wellingtonia tree. This would have been about 70 years old at the time for it was planted in 1887 as the tree to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It is still there today, now about 125 years old. Back in 1887, this field would have seemed the ideal place, for it was in use as the village recreation ground.

But that was to change. In 1902 Charles Awdry bought the Manor and that included the recreation ground. Charles had a passion for cricket and converted the area into a classy cricket ground, building the lavish pavilion that can be seen to the left of the Wellingtonia.

The cricket pavilion built by Charles Awdrey of Market Lavington Manor

The pavilion has now gone. The small estate of houses built on the site has the name, ‘Pavilion Gardens’.

Charles Awdrey died in 1912 and his executors decided the Manor must be sold. Nobody wanted the house until, eventually, Dauntsey’s School bought it. The nearer part of the field, as seen in the photo became a playing field for the boys. (Girls were not admitted to the school until much later.)

And then Wiltshire County Council built the Lavington School which opened in 1962. It is still there, much expanded, and is now a thriving comprehensive school.


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