Childhood mischief in the 1930s and 40s

Another of the oral history recordings at Market Lavington Museum adds to our understanding of what life was like for local youngsters just before and during World War II. Glyn Arnold was born in 1933 and lived most of his life on The Clays, which runs parallel to Market Lavington HIgh Street, on the Salisbury Plain side of the road.

Like so many village children, he remembered his first school teacher being Mrs Elisha, whose class was in the old parish room (where the nursing home now stands). His junior school days were in the Victorian school building next to St Mary’s Churchyard, with teachers Mrs Baker and her daughter Sybil and headmaster, Mr Stowe.

Apart from lessons with the teachers, Glyn talked of visits to Mr Burbidge in the cottage behind the school (now Market Lavington Museum). He taught the children about beekeeping and showed them the hives in his garden and at the end of the churchyard. Grove Farm was close to the school and Mr Francis let the school have an area of his land as an allotment, where the pupils could learn about gardening. Other village folk taught them woodwork and blacksmith’s skills.

In this picture, Glyn is second from the left at the back. (For more information about this occasion and other names, see A school outing in 1947.)

Glyn felt his childhood years were in the good old days, when the youngsters had respect for the three policemen in the village and their parents and teachers. They would get a clip round the ear if they were out of order. Of course, this didn’t mean the lads never got up to mischief, but Glyn felt no real malice was involved. He spoke of Horry Griffin, one of the police who lived down The Spring. He caught the boys scrumping and they ran off round to Broadwell, but the policeman had a bike and got there first, before they could head off down The Clays. They were given a warning and then taken home, where they would get a clip from their parents.

One of their pranks was to tie string to the door knocker of the butcher, Mr Doubleday. They would hide in the Market Place and pull the string and enjoy seeing Mr Doubleday open his door, to find no-one there.

Mains water did not come to Market Lavington until after the war, which meant there were no flush toilets. Dawnie Cooper collected the buckets from the privvies and took them to empty on the allotments along The Clays. In the Autumn the boys aimed their scrumped apples at the buckets, hoping to splatter Dawnie with the contents of the buckets.

Pupils who passed the 11+ exam could go to school in Devizes or take advantage of a legacy which funded boys from Tilshead, Cheverell, Market Lavington and Easterton to attend Dauntsey’s School. Glyn went to Dauntsey’s but was not really happy there. The uniform rules meant the pupils wore short trousers all the ear round. As they walked home from school, the local boys would taunt them, calling them ‘Donkey’ or ‘Eeyore’.

We will share more of Glyn’s memories in another blog post.

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