Archive for the ‘Museum’ Category

A paraffin stove

August 9, 2020

Campers and folk on a day out, wanting to be able to boil a kettle, warm a can of soup or make a simple meal might take a small canister gas stove with them. But the Camping Gaz company dates from 1949. Prior to this people used primus stoves. Primus paraffin stoves date from 1892 onwards and primus gets used as a generic term, though other makes were available.

At Market Lavington Museum, we have one made by Monitor Engineering of Stretchford, Birmingham.


It is a compact little stove with a wind shield and three bent rods, providing a base for a kettle or saucepan.

Our stove was designed to be taken out on holidays and expeditions and packs away into a tin. This would have been bright red, with a yellow lid with charming pictures which, sadly, are now very faded.

stove tin

However, we can just read that the Monitor Touring Stove was for Every Outdoor Occasion, with pictures suggesting it might be taken by caravan holiday makers, cyclists, motorcyclists or car drivers. We think it may date from the 1950s.

A Charleston dress

August 8, 2020

Named after a town in South Carolina and popularised in the 1923 ‘Runnin’ Wild’ show, the Charleston dance epitomised the mid 1920s. It had a simple rhythm charleston and exuberant leg movements, requiring suitable clothing. A dress that was not too long and had a wide skirt was ideal.

At Market Lavington Museum, we have such a garment.

charleston dress 3

Made of blue chiffon, with a swirling pattern and uneven hem length, it does not look too special when hanging from a coat hanger. However, the circular skirt is very full and well suited to accommodating the energetic, kicking steps of the dance.

charleston dress 2

We are lucky that such a flimsy garment has been preserved and can represent its era after almost a century.

The sun ray lamp again

August 7, 2020

sunray lamp 1

We have seen this sun ray lamp from the late 1930s before. For more information on how it worked, see A sun ray lamp

In the first half of the 20th century, ultra violet rays were believed to be beneficial for people suffering from many medical conditions. Sun ray therapy was prescribed for varicose veins, heart disease, sore throats, anaemia and acne and was also used by adults for tanning. Some of these treatments were carried out in hospitals with large scale equipment but, at Market Lavington Museum, we have a small lamp for use at home.

We have had our lamp out on display recently, along with some of its spare parts.

sunray lamp 3

We believe that the carbon rods burnt away and needed to be replaced from time to time. We have packs of two types of carbons – Special Therapeutic Negative Carbons and Therapeutic Cored Polymetallic Carbons. We also have coloured glass filters and spare electric coils.

sunray lamp 2

Children were regularly treated  wearing goggles to protect their eyes, whilst having their bodies exposed to the rays. It is now understood that ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer and are to be avoided.


1920s fashion for a little girl

August 6, 2020

In the 1920s, one of the features of ladies fashion was the shift dress with a drop waist. At Market Lavington Museum, we have an example of such a dress.

Baby dress 1920s

But ours wasn’t worn by an adult. It is just 46cm long, so it belonged to a small girl, dressed to reflect the fashion of the time. This charming pale cream silk garment has a hand embroidered collar with picot edging.

collar 1920s

We are so fortunate that the dress has been preserved in lovely condition for a whole century, enabling us share it with our visitors.

A butcher’s bag

August 5, 2020

Not every item at Market Lavington Museum is very old. Indeed, we often say that today’s news is tomorrow’s history and add some recent objects to our collection. One such is a bag advertising Douse’s Butcher’s shop.

Butcher Douse bag

Many of our displays are changed every year or two. In 2019, we set up a display about Market Lavington shops and this bag features in it. Douse’s have been in their shop opposite the Market Place since 1964, but the building has been used as a butcher’s shop for a very long time. (See The butcher’s shop)

Alongside our bag, we have some tools that have been used by local butchers over the years.

Butcher steel Butcher carcass stretcher Butcher cleaver

The butcher’s steel would have hung from his belt, handy for sharpening his cutting tools. The carcass stretcher held the meat being butchered, whilst the cleaver was used for chopping.

We also have a steelyard in our trades room. (See A butcher’s steelyard)

A green blouse from 1895

August 4, 2020

Market Lavington had dressmakers, who worked from a cottage at the lower end of Parsonage Lane, but many of the clothes in our museum were hand made by local residents. This green blouse was made by Hannah Gye before her wedding to Walter James, who had the bakery and grocery store at 1, High Street, Market Lavington.

green jacket snip 2

Hannah’s fabrics were a sage green silk and darker green velvet. This garment would have taken a long time to make and required proficiency in a range of sewing techniques.

green jacket ruching

This close up shows the stitching which gathered the material to form the ruched feature around the yoke.

green jacket buttons

All the buttonholes were hand sewn and there was ecru trimming at the neck and  trimming inside the cuffs too.

green jacket cuff

This view into the sleeve shows the lining. We presume that Hannah was pleased with her efforts, as the garment has been kept safely and is still in good condition after 125 years.

green jacket snip

A knitted blanket

August 3, 2020

Market Lavington Museum is housed in a small cottage, which makes it difficult to display some of our larger items, such as bedspreads. Our solution to this problem is to drape one over the settle, which is then used for seated dummies, dressed in period costume. In 2019, our settle was covered with this knitted blanket.

Settle 1    bedspread 1

It certainly fits our rules regarding local provenance as it was knitted in the 1950s by Mrs Baker of Parsonage Lane, Market Lavington. We cannot imagine how many hours it took to make.

There are tassels on three sides, but not at the top, where they would have tickled the sleepers’ chins. Excluding the tassels, it measures about 250 cms by 190 cms, so would have fitted a double bed and hung down over the sides and foot of the bed.

bedspread 2

Mrs Baker must have knitted it in sections, so there was a lot of sewing involved too, putting together the 15 cm square pieces. What a labour of love! We are glad to have it in the museum, where it can be appreciated by future generations.

You must be kidding

August 2, 2020

We have several pairs kid gloves, dating from the 1920s, at Market Lavington Museum. They belonged to Mrs Reynolds, who lived at Clyffe Hall. Whether she actually wore them in our village, or just in her younger days before she moved to Market Lavington, we do not know.

Gloves 1 snip

This pair of elegant white leather gloves are 54 cm long. What is even more amazing is how narrow they are. There is no way our curator, who doesn’t have particularly large hands, would be able to wear them.

Once the slender handed owner had put them on, then the buttons at the wrist would have been fastened around her tiny wrists. She had other pairs of gloves, in different colours, so we have four pairs of her gloves in the museum. They are lovely examples of  fashionable items from  a century ago.

Gloves 2 snip


Packing away a velvet dress

August 1, 2020

Some of the clothes donated to our museum date from the late 19th and early 20th century and show signs of their age. We try to tread a careful line between making sure that they can be put on view from time to time, whilst ensuring that we look after them carefully for the future. We are a volunteer run museum and rely on the professional staff in the county museum service to train us to care for our costume appropriately.

We have seen this crushed velvet dress before and will now watch as it is packed away into storage.

Capture 1 Capture 2

Whilst on display, it had been supported on a ‘body’ make of wire and covered in unbleached calico. It was now carefully removed from this dummy, whilst being supported to avoid any strain, which could cause it to tear. It already had seam rips in places, as can be seen in this view from inside the garment.

Capture 4 Capture 3

Also, inside the dress, we can see museum labels. Every museum item is numbered to enable us to find it and its records. Following expert guidance, we might do this by attaching a museum quality, acid free label loosely around a buttonhole. Sometimes the only option is to sew a label onto a seam. The number is written with a laundry marker on acid free tape and sewn in with a few loose stitches.

The storage location for this dress is in an acid free, museum quality box, so it will need folding to fit.

Capture 8

Tight folds will cause creasing and may lead to the fabric being prone to tearing along the crease line, so we used acid free tissue paper in the sleeves and between the folded layers of the garment to lessen the likelihood of damage.

Capture 5 Capture 7

Once it was folded to size and totally wrapped in the tissue, it was carefully placed in its box, to be stored in dark and dry conditions until it is next needed for display.

Some of our bulkier items, which are not suited to box storage, are hung on padded hangers in a bag of unbleached calico. Either way, we aim to follow the guidance of our professional colleagues to prevent our old and sometimes fragile garments from deteriorating whilst in our care.

Capture 10

Capture 9




A black velvet dress

July 31, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum we have a collection of clothes from yesteryear and change the costumes on our dummies every year. In 2019, we had a display called ‘Dressed for Best’ with a selection of late Victorian and 1920s ladies’ clothes.

black velvet dress snip

Sitting at the end of the settle, was a dummy wearing a long, black crushed velvet dress. It was donated by a lady on White Street in Market Lavington and dated to the 1920s or 1930s. It was showing signs of its age, particularly in the elaborate lace around the neck, but it was still able to represent the fashions of its era to our visitors.

black velvet dress lace

We will meet this garment again, as we remove it from display and carefully store it away.