Crossing the water at Broadwell

Clean water springing from the ground at Broadwell would have been an important factor in the very existence of Market Lavington as a settlement. Collecting water there was part of the daily routine for many villagers until the coming of piped water in 1936. Typing ‘Broadwell’ into the search box on our museum blog will lead you to many posts on this subject.

broadwell2 ca1917

A 1917 postcard of Broad Well

The caption on this 1917 postcard reflects the way older local people say ‘Broadwell’ for, indeed, the water widens out immediately after it appears from the ground near the pump in the centre of the picture. (Broad Well also appears as two words on the 1:2,500 scale Ordance Survey map of 1900.) This blog post considers how the wide water has been crossed over the years.

Broadwell Gye painting snip

A painting from about 1880, believed to be by James Gye

In this painting, we look south from a trackway and across the water to its continuation beside the home of Mr Merrett, the blacksmith, and along to Knapp Farm. There is a ford where the ducks are swimming . Whilst this was suitable for crossing by horse, a drier option for those on foot was to use the stepping stones to the right of the ford.

By the time of our 1950s postcard, the stepping stones had been replaced by a footbridge, which is still in use in 2020.


Children have always played in the shallow water here, especially in the long, hot summer of 1959, as seen in this picture by village photographer, Peter Francis.

1959 children P Francis

In  2020, an effort is being made to tidy up and improve the area around Broadwell. As of  15th February, children will be able to enjoy crossing the water on stepping stones once more.


New stepping stones at Broadwell, 16th February 2020

So now there are three crossing options in a row – stepping stones, the ford and the bridge.

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