Mowing Clyffe Hall lawns

Clyffe Hall is a grand house on the western edge of Market Lavington. Typing ‘Clyffe Hall’ into the search box on this museum blog will give you a choice of about a dozen previous entries with information about and pictures of this building, its grounds and staff. Take a look at Clyffe Hall Lake to catch a glimpse of just a small part of the extensive lawns surrounding the property. They must take a lot of mowing, presumably with a large motorised vehicle these days. Hopefully, a motor can be switched on and the mower will be ready to start work.

In times gone by, horse power would have been used for the job. At Market Lavington Museum, we have boxes full of the pony harness worn by the animal who provided the motive power to cut all that grass. We believe it was in use in the early 1900s and up to about 1938.

The Wiltshire Museums Service must have spent a lot of time and effort caring for the leather and making bespoke storage for all the tack. For this is not all of what was needed to ready the pony for work.

There was this too…

and this …

and, finally, what is presumably a muzzle to restrict the intake of grass for overweight equines. Maybe the Clyffe Hall pony wore it when working, to dissuade it from stopping for a nibble.

It is quite a problem to find room to store these large boxes of tack in our little museum cottage. The harness has not been out of the boxes for a long time, but will feature in a new display on Horse Power.

Next time you plug in your electric mower or start the motor on your petrol mower, spare a thought for the time it must have taken to put all that harness on the hard working pony and to look after the beast on its working days and days off.

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