It’s the last day of November. It’s time to batten down the hatches as we prepare for winter. Politicians seem to be predicting an ‘Arctic’ season – but then, why should they know. But if it is a long, cold winter, then maybe we should hold on to thoughts of better climes – those far from lazy hay days back in late spring and early summer.

Maybe, in the 21st century, many of us do like to enjoy the summer weather without putting too much strain on the muscles. But 100 years ago it really was a case of all hands to the farm work at haymaking time. Producing the winter feed for animals was such a crucial part of the farmer’s year. Without a good hay crop he’d have to cull animals and lose income for the following year.

So it really was all hands out in the field to ensure that the hay days were a success.

This photo dates from 1915 and shows haymakers at Knapp Farm which is sited at the bottom of Lavington Hill, near Broadwell.

Haymakers at Knapp farm, Market Lavington in 1915

Haymakers at Knapp Farm, Market Lavington in 1915

We have a team of something like 26 men, women and children here although we doubt if the youngest child shown did much work.

Light duties for this one, perhaps?

Light duties for this one, perhaps?

It is interesting to note that whilst many local men would have been away fighting the war in 1915, there were soldiers being trained locally and clearly at least one has been spared to help get the hay in.

Help from the military

Help from the military

This is Mrs Baker - but just which Mrs Baker?

This is Mrs Baker – but just which Mrs Baker?

This lady is captioned as Mrs Baker. There were several branches of the Baker family in the village.

We guess, from his rather superior dress, that this chap was Mr Watts, the farmer.


Mr Watts, the farmer, we think

As ever, any further information would be much appreciated.


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One Response to “Haymakers”

  1. Kate Luck Says:

    This is very fascinating. I am particularly interested in the photograph of a hat making gang with women and children as I am researching ‘Women on the Land’ in Wiltshire during the Great War. I would be pleased to know if the museum has any other photos of women in agriculture during this period.

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