Hatching a plan

Most of the items in Market Lavington Museum have been donated. They have an entry form filled in with details of the donor and a description of the object. Later it will be formally accessioned, given a museum number and a storage location. That’s what should happen but, sometimes, this is not the case.

For years and years, there have been some egg boxes on a shelf in the storeroom, with no numbers or information about their donor or connection to the locality.

Inside, carefully wrapped and labelled, are the blown shells of wild bird eggs.

Collections of this sort were probably more common a few generations ago. Bird nesting, as a hobby, is not compatible with the ethics of nature conservation, but we can’t undo the past and the eggshells might arouse our visitors’ sense of wonder at the natural world. In the museum we do now have chests of glass topped drawers where these 21 eggs could be displayed safely.

Our museum also has a couple of accessioned items of ornithological interest. We have a copy of a booklet compiled by John Legg – a Market Lavington Naturalist, written in 1780. He was sharing his understanding of the summer and winter migrations of birds.

We also have a copy of a hard to read handwritten journal by Ben Hayward of the house named Kestrels in Easterton. This book includes farming information, notes of places visited, dates of marriages and deaths and the like. Benjamin Hayward took an interest in birds and noted sightings of them.

This is an excerpt from one of the clearer to read pages.

It starts with recording that, on April 13th and 14th1866, he saw the first swallow and heard the first ‘cooccoo’. There are many such references throughout the journal.

So, we are hatching a plan that, maybe, when we finally manage to re-open the museum after its closure due to Covid and then through building work, we will have a display featuring birds and ornithologists.

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