Dating a postcard

New church postcard

St Mary’s Church, Market Lavington

At Market Lavington Museum we have many photos of our parish church, but this is a recent addition to that collection. The exterior of the building is fairly unchanging, so we have looked at a tree to help us date the picture.

church coloured 1905

A 1905 tinted postcard

This tinted postcard was produced by Woodwards of Devizes and is not one of our village photographer (Alf Burgess)’s black and white photographs. Below the church tower is the porch and to its right we see a pointed tree just reaching  rooftop level.

church 1913

A postcard sent in 1913

Our next card, again, was not produced by our local Burgess photographers. It was posted in 1913. Of course, this only gives us a ‘no later than’ date for  the image, as we do not know when the photo was taken or when the card was printed. Although taken from a different angle, it would seem that the tree has grown, with its tip reaching the louvres, which let the sounds of bell ringing out into the village.

church 1917

A view from 1917

This 1917 photograph was taken from a very similar position, just below the table top tomb, and, from this angle, the tree top appears nearly level with the tower top crenellations.

It has all the hallmarks of a Burgess Brothers postcard and the handwritten caption in white ink is the same as on our new card, which is marked Burgess Bros, Photographers, Market Lavington, Wilts on the back. Their father, Alf Burgess, had set up the business in 1886. He died in 1918, but two of his sons continued to run it until after the second world war.

More information on the photography business in Market Lavington is at

From the height of the tree, we would estimate that our new postcard might date from about 1920. Presumably, at some point, it was deemed to be too tall or unsafe in its proximity to the building and was felled. It had certainly gone before this postcard, dated to 1960s by the television aerials, was printed.

village from rec ground2 1960s

St Mary’s Church from the Recreation Ground – probably 1960s




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