Drove Lane

In Market Lavington, there is a road leading from the main B road up to a junction with Kings Road. Its southern end is driveable and leads past an electricity sub station and a cemetery to St Barnabas Primary School and some houses beyond. After that, it becomes a rutted trackway with no vehicular access.

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In the past it has also been known as Cemetery Lane and The Drove. Unfortunately, we do not have much information on this route in former times, but are fascinated by its name, which suggests it was used for driving animals to market. In our museum collection, we have a book on droving in Wiltshire, produced in 1990 by the Wiltshire Life Society. We dipped into this, hoping to find out more about drove routes in our locality.

Pigot’s Directory for 1830 says that Market Lavington had a large market for corn and cattle so, maybe, some of the cows were walked to the market down The Drove. However, on the map of Wiltshire in this book by K G Watts, Market Lavington is in the central area, devoid of major droveways, so maybe our Drove Lane was just a local routeway.

We have no knowledge of whether cattle, sheep, geese or other animals reared in Market Lavington and Easterton were taken by drovers to London or other large conurbations. If they were, the cattle would have been shod and sometimes geese had their feet tarred for the long walk. Drovers would aim to cover about ten miles in a day, with the drover being paid three or four shillings a day in the early nineteenth century, but some of this was needed to pay for overnight accommodation for man and beasts.

If any inhabitants of Drove Lane, or elsewhere, have any knowledge of when the road was used as a droveway, Market Lavington Museum would love to hear from you.

2 Responses to “Drove Lane”

  1. Mark Dolman Says:

    This may well have been used as a drove road to avoid Market Lavington. Drovers did this to avoid paying tolls and to placate the locals. Looking at the map it could have continued via Cadley Farm to Worton and to the south it could have been diverted around the grounds of Fiddington House and headed over the Clays and up onto the Plain. I could have been one of several routes used especially when crossing the clay where routes quickly become impassable when wet. We may never know.

  2. marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

    Thank you, Mark. We may indeed never know. Road names can sometimes point to history lost in the mists of time.

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