Archive for the ‘Museum’ Category

9 Church Street, Market Lavington

January 21, 2023

Our previous blog entry looked at this address in 1985, when it was about to open up as Shoes ‘n Things. Formerly the village had many more shops than it does now, in 2023. Some lasted for decades whilst others changed hands many times. Our extensive collection of postcards and photographs enables us to see how this building looked through more than a century.

Back in 1910, our postcard of an election parade shows the business at number 9 being run by A W Godfrey, Purveyor, who was also at Devizes. His shop is between a building that was once a Baptist chapel and a cycle shop.

By 1913, A W Godfrey had died and the building housed Mr Pike’s butcher’s shop.

In 1975, the shop board read Lucinda and we can see the cycle shop had become a petrol garage, though business there had ceased.

Another picture from the 1970s shows the building in need of attention.

The building to the left, once a chapel, had been various different food shops, but by then was the Spar shop.

Number 9 underwent rebuilding. The Shoes ‘n Things shop, featured in our previous post, didn’t last long as, by 1987, Knitters Paradise opened there.

Our photo from January 2023 shows number 9 Church Street and its neighbours, the food shop and the garage, are no longer business premises, but homes.


Shoes ‘n things

January 20, 2023

Number 9, Church Street, Market Lavington has had a varied history and locals may not remember all the businesses that occupied the building. Fortunately, Market Lavington Museum is a repository for all sorts of paper items and someone thought to donate a couple of flyers from 1985.

Here, we see that the shop was selling shoes for men and women along with various gift items. By the 1980s, most ladies had probably changed from wearing stockings to tights, but the shop stocked both. Looking back over nearly forty years, we may well be comparing the current prices of shoes with those advertised here. Of course, people earned less then than now.

Our second flyer informs us that the business was opening for the first time on 30th March 1985 and that, for a month, there was to be an introductory offer of a 5 % reduction on a pair of shoes.

In our next blog entry, we will look at 9, Church Street at some other points in its history.

Hospital Week postage accounts

January 19, 2023

We have featured Hospital Week many times at the museum and in our blogs. This is because the week of fundraising events and carnival was a major annual happening for local residents and produced an important means of support to those in need of medical care in the years before the National Health Service. It was well organised and its records have survived and been accessioned into Market Lavington Museum’s colllection.

For photos of the fancy dress parades and information about many of the other activities, check out the links at the bottom of this entry.

Tucked away in one of our storage boxes, we find this page of accounts related to postal costs. The costs are typed or in black ink. The pencil figures are a running total as the various costs were totted up.

Although a typewriter was available, it comes from an era long before computers and e mails. Contacting people to make arrangements for their support and participation was done by letter as we can see by the number of postage stamps purchased. This account is not dated but we know that it cost 1 1/2d (one and a half old pennies) to post a letter between 1922 and 1940.

We see that quite a lot of mail was sent arranging music for the events. Letters went to bands, drums, Wiltshire Regiment, bandmaster, Moonrakers’ band, Calne band and another hard to read band.

With all this written communication, it was necessary to purchase a writing block, some foolscap paper and envelopes.

Many letters were written to individuals including Lord Warrington, a judge who spent his retirement at Clyffe Hall in Market Lavington.

Another letter went to Edward Oliver Pleydell Bouverie. He was the son of Edward Pleydell Bouverie (lord of the manor at Market Lavington and a member of parliament).

Other mail went to businesses such as the Midland Bank and Wadworths, the brewers in Devizes.

For a speedier delivery, telegrams were required. These were much more expensive, at 2s/6d (half a crown, so an eighth of a pound sterling). It looks as though Mr G Pike footed the bill for this ‘wire’ (telegram) to Swindon. He was a butcher in Market Lavington. (See George Pike advertises.)

So here we have yet another scrap of paper, saved for best part of a century, which casts light on village life in the past.

Do look at some of these links to get a flavour of local fun in the 1920s and 1930s. The proceeds of Hospital Week 1924, Event details for 1924 Hospital Week, Preparing the 1924 Hospital Week events, A drinks bill for the hospital week committee, Hospital Week Plans, 1923 Hospital Week, 1921 Hospital Week,At the 1931 Hospital Week, A Hospital Week poster, Another Hospital Week gathering, At a Hospital Week Carnival in the 1920s, Hospital Week – mid 1930s, Hospital Week and Hospital week children in 1927.

Those Latin bird names

January 18, 2023

In our previous two blog entries, we have looked at the collection of birds’ eggs, now on display in a glass topped drawer in Market Lavington Museum.

Most of the eggs have three labels, which provide some clues to their hazy history. The modern laminated labels were printed to match those in our other museum displays as the stick on labels on their tissue paper wrappers will be partly obscured by the wooden frame around the glass top to the cabinet. However, on opening up the packages, much older labels were found, tucked inside. We presume that these handwritten bird names were produced to accompany the eggs when they were first collected and, presumably, put on display in the collector’s home. Many of them have the common name of the bird and, also, its internationally recognised Latin classification.

This dual naming gives an indication of the serious relationship of the original owner to his (or possibly her) collection. It also provides extra interest for any museum visitors with a bit of interest in languages.

We learn that the moorhen is Gallinula chlorupus and the peewit (lapwing) is Vanellus c(h)ristatus (or Vanellus vanellus). The skylark (Alauda arvensis), the blackbird (Turdus merula) and the chaffinch (Frincilla calebs) also have Latin names that are probably beyond those of us who are not serious ornithologists or classics scholars.

But some of the other labels may hold a glimmer of meaning for us. The sparrowhawk (Falco nisus) has a Latin name suggesting it belongs to the falcon family. However, modern birdbooks call the hawks Accipiters and not falcons, so the sparrowhawk is Accipiter nisus.

The starling’s egg is labelled Sturnus vulgaris. That seems acceptable in modern birdbooks and we can relate to vulgaris meaning common through our knowledge of the word vulgar.

The yellowhammer is Emberiza citrinella. We assume this colour word is closely associated with citronella, meaning lemon.

Those of us with a little French knowledge will recognise the house martin (Hirundo urbica) as being related to a swallow, from its Latin name being like the French hirondelle (swallow). Urbica, meaning of the town, is like our word urban.

We have no problem with the great tit (Parus major) as we use the word major for big in English too.

Some of us may know that the sparrows are passerines, so Passer domesticus is the house sparrow.

The egg labels

January 17, 2023

In putting together the Birds’ eggs display, it might have been more visually appealing to just position the eggs in the drawer, with a small modern label giving the bird’s name. However, museums are more than just presenters of artefacts, they usually aim to conserve and share the stories behind the objects too.

This is expressed by Rachel Morris in her 2020 book, ‘The Museum Makers’. ‘When we make museums, during my day job as a museum maker, we make them as follows. First we gather up the artefacts, listen to the curators, understand the stories that each object tells, and the bigger stories that they tell when you group them together. We learn the stories that our objects have gathered as they journey through time, and we try not to strip an object back to a single meaning but somehow to evoke the clouds of meanings that hang around each one of them.’

In our blog entry, Hatching a plan, we explained our lack of knowledge of the provenance of the collection of birds’ eggs at Market Lavington Museum and, in our previous entry, Bird’s eggs, we suggested a probable journey through time. We have the 21 eggs themselves, albeit three of them are broken shells, we have the old ink written labels tucked inside more modern tissue wrapping and sticky labels. All these are part of the story and so the wrappings and labels have been kept with the eggs in the display drawer.

Next time we will look at the rest of these eggs and consider the Latin names on their old labels.

Birds’ eggs

January 16, 2023

Our blog entry, Hatching a plan, shared the mystery birds’ eggs, which had sat on a storeroom shelf for decades, with no entry form or donor details. We have just put them on display, ready for visitors to see during our 2023 opening season and beyond.

Egg collecting was once a popular hobby, but is now illegal. Since 1954, it has been illegal to take eggs of most wild birds. It is also illegal to possess the eggs of wild birds taken since the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.

We do not know when these eggs were collected, but they have been in the museum for a long time, blown, wrapped and labelled, presumably by a local egg collector. The individual packages were fastened with yellowed sticky tape and labelled with self adhesive stickers. However, on opening the packages, most of them contained a blown egg and a much older label, written in black ink, with the common and Latin bird’s name written on it in black ink.

Our belief is, that the eggs were collected long ago, possibly before the 1954 date but were later taken from a collector’s display and wrapped in tissue and labelled. At some point after that, they must have been put in the museum, which opened in 1985.

The collection is now in one of our display drawers in the museum’s entrance room.

We will take a closer look next time.

A much smaller petticoat

January 15, 2023

Our previous blog entry, A rather large petticoat, featured a garment for a lady with a big waist. Amongst the underwear at Market Lavington Museum, we have another white waistslip for a much slenderer figure.

This one is made from embroidered cotton lawn. It is not in the best of condition, being less white than it would have once been, but it does date from 1890, so is over 130 years old.

It would have been made for a young lady or adult as it measures 89 cms from waist to ankle. However, she must have had a slim figure as the waistband is only 51 cm, or about 20 inches. There was no room for manoeuvre as in our previous blog. This garment has no drawstring, but is a fixed size, done up with a button.

A rather large petticoat

January 14, 2023

At Market Lavington Museum, we have quite a large collection of clothing dating from late Victorian to early 20th century times. Many of our items, for both ladies and children, are made of white cotton. This includes quite a number of undergarments. This cotton petticoat dates from about 1900.

It is decorated with several tucks and broderie anglaise near the hem.

It is a 95 cm long petticoat, for wearing under a full length skirt, so it has a bound hem for added strength when trailing along the ground.

It fastens at the waist with a drawstring. Fully extended, this would fit a lady with a waist of 117cm or 46 inches. Of course, the wearer might have been rather slimmer, if the drawstring was pulled up tight.

Two more pipes

January 13, 2023

In our previous blog entry, we looked at a display of local items connected with tobacco pipe and cigarette smoking. Most of these date from a time when the dangers to health from this habit were less well understood.

Recently two more pipes were donated to the museum after they had failed to sell in a local jumble sale. Our collections policy states that the artefacts in Market Lavington Museum should have a local connection. The label on this old pipe casts doubt on its local provenance.

The East India Dock in London is far away from Market Lavington in central Wiltshire. However, the writing on the reverse of the label suggests a possible local connection later in the pipe’s history.

Market Lavington certainly does have a WI (Women’s Institute), though its connection with an old pipe is a mystery. The name Welch also points to some local links. Our museum founder, Peggy Gye – 1921 – 2010, was a Miss Welch before her marriage. We have ascertained that her father, Jack Welch, was a pipe smoker as was her brother. Might one of the family have collected old pipes? There is also a connection between the Welch family and the local Women’s Institute. Peggy’s mother, Floss Welch, was their secretary as we see in the Institute’s item, A tribute to Florence Welch, following her early death. Her husband, Jack, audited their accounts too, but we still do not understand why the WI is on the pipe label.

Another pipe was donated to the museum along with this old clay pipe. It has no accompanying information although we understand that both pipes were given to the jumble sale by the same person. We might therefore assume that this newer pipe also has a local connection.

Internet research suggests that such corncob Meerschaum pipes are still available to buy new and are inexpensive.

Despite the flimsy evidence, we will accession these two pipes into our collection but, if any local readers can provide us with more information about them, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Smokers’ requisites

January 12, 2023

Market Lavington Museum is in a small Victorian house. We have many more artefacts than we can have on display at any one time and we like to change many of our displays each year, so there is always something different for our visitors to see. One of the displays we have recently dismantled featured items connected with smoking.

These are all linked in some way with the parishes of Market Lavington or Easterton, having been found here or used by local residents. Previous blog entries focus on some of these objects in more detail. (See A clay pipe, A seventeenth century pipe, Tobacco tins, Buying an ounce of tobacco and Churchman’s Tortoiseshell Smoking Mixture.)

We have recently been given two more pipes to add to this collection, although we do have some queries about their back stories. We will have a look at these next time.