This cottage was built in the 1840s, at the same time as the Old School. The intention was that the school master would live in the cottage so he would be very much on the spot for the school. By the time this photo was taken, in 1983, the building had been out of use for a dozen years and had been boarded up to stop the local youngsters using it as a den.
We do not know whether any schoolmasters did actually live there. Censuses show farm labourers or gardeners living there.
From about 1907 to the early 1950s the Burbidge family lived there. Alf was a gardener for Miss Pleydell Bouverie who lived in the Old House, just behind the cottage. There is still a gateway linking the two properties although these days it is firmly bolted out of use. When the last of the Burbidges left, the village school, coping with a raised school leaving age, took over the building. That would have been in the mid 1950s. Craft and art activities took place there and there was even a TV installed for seeing educational programmes. When Mrs Cooper joined the school as secretary, she had her office in this building. Mr Burbidge’s beautifully flowery garden became the playground surrounded by high fences that we see in the photo. There are still traces of the painted netball lines to be seen.
In 1961 Lavington Secondary School opened and the old village school no longer had to cater for the over 11 age group and then in 1971 both the Old School in Market Lavington and the Easterton village school were closed and the new St Barnabas School opened on Drove Lane. That was when this cottage fell into disrepair, being out of use.
But by 1983 Peggy Gye had plans to use the building for the village museum. That opened in 1985 so this year marks our 30th anniversary.
We continue to be well supported by many local people who discover interesting artefacts for us or provide us with cash donations to ensure we survive. And most important of all, people volunteer to help run the museum in whatever way they can.
Long may it continue.