Archive for the ‘Museum’ Category

Grow your own in Market Lavington

July 15, 2020

Over the years, the land in Market Lavington and Easterton, has been cultivated by various market gardening enterprises, some with large greenhouses, and fruit was grown on a large scale to supply the jam making factory in Easterton. Some householders continue to grow vegetables in their own gardens and there have been allotments at the top of Northbrook and along The Clays. See Market Gardening at Fiddington and  Northbrook Allotments

During the 2nd World War, people all over Britain were encouraged to grow their own vegetables, including cabbages.


One of the wartime Ministry of Agriculture leaflets, which we have at the museum, gives advice on growing various members of the cabbage family, extolling their virtues as year round crops, providing protective vitamins and minerals, if properly cooked.

Cabages snip 1

Cabbages snip 2

Much of the advice remains relevant today, although some of the available plant varieties may have changed. However, the advice to deal with flea beetle by dusting with derris, benzine hexachloride or DDT powder, or killing slugs with metaldehyde, would no longer be recommended as many of these products are now banned.

To look at some of our other Dig for Victory leaflets, see How to … Dig for Victory, Valuable crops – peas, beans and potatoes, Dig for VictoryKnow your onions, 



Dig for Victory

July 14, 2020

In 2020, during the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown, more people have spent time home gardening. During the 2nd World War, the government actively encouraged this. Food imports were under threat from U boat attack and shipping was needed for carrying supplies to the armed forces.

Under a Ministry of Agriculture campaign, lawns and parks were turned into vegetable patches and previous non-gardeners needed to acquire new skills in order to successfully supplement their food rations. Vast numbers of monthly guides and free leaflets were produced to support home grown vegetable production. At Market Lavington Museum, we have a selection of these pamphlets.

This two sided page was encouraging people to do their bit, however small their plot.

small plot snip

crop plan snip

We will look at some more of the museum’s collection of Dig for Victory advice in future blog posts. See Valuable crops – peas, beans and potatoes, Know your onions, How to … Dig for Victory and Grow your own in Market Lavington.

Book Recovery in World War Two

July 12, 2020

During the Second World War, a great effort was made to salvage and recycle all sorts of materials from scrap metal and rubber to rags and bones. Paper was another of these materials, that the public was asked to save for repulping. This was to save on importing wood pulp from overseas, risking the lives of seamen,  and to involve the general public in the war effort. Between 3rd September 1939 and VE (Victory in Europe) Day on 8th May 1945, Britain salvaged 4.2 million tons of waste paper, with half of this coming from household collections.

Recycled paper was made into cardboard with many military uses, from bullet cartridge wads to parts of mines and bombs and from petrol containers to the jointing in concrete runways.

Over time, constant repulping of scrap paper lessened its quality and a drive was launched to get better quality donations. This led to challenging people to collect books in  a Book Recovery Campaign in 1942.


In Market Lavington, eight year old Gwenda Cooper collected nearly 350 books, earning her a paper badge and a mention in a newspaper. These items were obviously treasured and saved for posterity. Nearly eighty years later, they form a part of the village museum’s collection of items of local historical significance.

The cornice moulding tool again

July 11, 2020

We have seen this tool before, in a blog from over six years ago  – A cornice mould

cornice mould snip 2

Today, we’ll take another look, from various angles.

Interior room designs change with the times – sometimes simple and sometimes ornate. In the 1970s, it was a fashionable DIY job to add polystyrene coving between the ceiling and the wall and to paint it so that it looked like plasterwork. Lengths of cornice moulding in various materials can still be purchased to conceal the join between the ceiling and the wall.

Going back to the early twentieth century, such a feature would have been much more elaborate and done by a professional plasterer. In the case of our tool, he was Mr Gye.

This cornice mould is a handmade, bespoke item, made to create the required stepped pattern feature.

cornice mould snip 1

The handle has been sanded smooth, for the comfort of the plasterer. It is attached to the  mould, which has been shaped to provide a central concave profile with a more  ornate stepped pattern at the wall and ceiling edges.

cornice mould snip 3

A sheet of lead has been carefully cut to the same pattern and nailed onto the mould. Our final picture gives a clear view of the shape of the cornice to be achieved.

cornice mould snip 4

To see such a tool in use, click on A cornice mould


National Fame for Market Lavington Post Office

July 1, 2020

In 2020, sub-postmasters have been in the news for winning a court case, showing that some of them had been wrongly accused of false accounting, which had actually been caused by a faulty computing system. But we are looking back over twenty years from now with a recently acquired item for our museum collection.

Sub-postmasters have a professional trade organisation and this National Federation of  Sub-postmasters celebrated its centenary in 1997. What better way to celebrate than with a postcard featuring our post office!

Subpostmasters pc

Market Lavington Post Office is at the bottom left of the card with Kettleholm near Lockerbie in Scotland above and Allenheads in Northumberland to the right.

Sub post offices provide some, but not all, of the services of a main post office. Market Lavington counts itself lucky to have a post office, though it is up for sale at the present time. The village has been well served over many years, though not always in the same building. The old Posting House was in the Green Dragon public house. The Post Office was later in the shop on the corner of the Market Place, now replaced by the newer pharmacy building. It then moved to the opposite side of High Street, next to the present hairdressers, before crossing the road to its current site at the crossroads. For more information and pictures see Three Post Office locations

The neighbouring village of Easterton once had a post office too, but not any more. For more information see Easterton Post Office – then, then and now

1820 – Aspirations for a Canal or Railway to Market Lavington

June 18, 2020

The village of Market Lavington, about 5 miles south of Devizes in central Wiltshire, nestles in a gault clay valley between the escarpment of the chalklands of Salisbury Plain and a greensand ridge. Before the army took over Salisbury Plain for training purposes, the old main road from Devizes to Salisbury went through the village and up White Street and the steep hill onto the Plain. This could never have been an easy journey for horse drawn vehicles. In the opposite (north westerly) direction, there was the sunken road through the greensand to negotiate. Routes along the valley floor were flatter.

view tinted 1907

1907 NW View from Salisbury Plain, across village to greensand ridge

The topography and state of the roads have had implications for local industry and its transport links over time. For instance, in the 1660s, bricks from the brickworks along the Broadway had to be taken away by horseback between Michaelmas and Lady Day, as carts were not permitted during those six winter months.

In the 1840s, William Cambridge made agricultural steam engines and other equipment here, but had to move from the village to a site nearer the docks in Bristol to facilitate selling them worldwide. See William Colbourne Cambridge

In 1852, James Neate established a successful brewing business here, but only came because he believed that a railway station was to be built on Church Street. See JAMES NEATE (1829 -1920)

Which brings us back to the

Market report heading

which has featured in Market Committee Report – 1820. The committee felt that all the wheat was selling well, but there was a problem due to a surfeit of barley.

The hill lands on Salisbury Plain were suited to sheep farming and barley production. This latter gave rise to a large number of maltings in the village, including one in the Market Place and one behind the Workman’s Hall. See Malthouses and Behind the Workman’s Hall. Malt for brewing was made by soaking and germinating barley corn for about six days and then drying it with hot air. The family at the White House on White Street ran a wagon delivery service carrying malt to London. The last malthouse here closed in 1883.

The 1820 report stated that ‘from the great quantity of Barley grown at Lavington, and its vicinity, there appears to be a want of purchasers … and the market will not expand to the magnitude desired, without a Canal or a Rail Road, to join to the Kennet and Avon Canal.’ It suggested that the 12,000 inhabitants of over twenty villages in the area, including, the Lavingtons, Imber, Netheravon and Amesbury, would all want to buy coal in Lavington if it could be transported here. Figures were quoted in the report for how much could be raised at 2d per ton per mile if canal or rail transport were available to move grain, coal, coal ash, flour, iron and groceries. Often 4d per ton per mile was charged on turnpike roads.

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A three man deputation was chosen to ask the managers of the Kennet and Avon Canal to see if they would ‘assist in the projected Canal or Railroad’.

deputation snip

The canal through Devizes had opened in 1810, improving the ability to transport heavy loads despite the 6 hours taken to go through the 29 locks in the Caen Hill area. The railway through Devizes only opened in 1857. The hopes of the Market Lavington Market Committee must have been dashed. The canal never came here. Eighty years later, in 1900, we did eventually get a Lavington railway station, just north of West Lavington. This closed in 1966. See Lavington Station – a new photo

Now, 200 years after the Market Committee report, there will be a feasibility study to assess whether we could have a new station, not in our village, but a few miles away at Lydeway, east of Devizes.


Market Committee Report – 1820

June 17, 2020

By 1820, the market in Market Lavington had been restarted and its committee produced a three page report on December 6th of that year. It sounds as though this was very much a corn market as no mention is made of other commodities.

Mkt report p1

A market porter had been appointed to assist with unloading and loading. There was a charge of 2d per sack (old pence, where 144 pennies = £1). Some sellers brought samples, rather than bringing all the corn they had for sale and the committee had provided a stand for the samples, though they preferred sacks to be brought by ‘those desirous of promoting the good of the market’.

Sacks featured rather a lot in this report and needed to be returned promptly. ‘Your Committee recommend that all sacks holding Corn sold in the Market, be returned in a fortnight, and if not returned in six weeks, to the Sack Office, Market Lavington, the seller of the grain, should demand of the buyer, value for the same.’

We have no sacks from this era, but we do have a later local hessian sack in the museum. See John Davis – Miller and Coal Merchant

sack 3

As reported in our previous blog post The Market at Market Lavington our knowledge about the market is scanty. We do not know where the Sack Office was, but Brian McGill’s book about Market Lavington, ‘Village under the Plain’, informs us that there was a building in the Market Place where market tolls were paid and manor courts were held. Fortunately for the newly established market, our report states ‘ that the Right Hon, the Earl of Radnor, has relinquished the tolls of the market for five years, for which act of generosity, your Committee have communicated their thanks to his Lordship…’


These buildings, on the corner of the High Street and Market Place, were demolished in  1960 and have been replaced by Rochelle Court. The one used for market business was immediately to the left of the shop on the corner. This early photo dates from the 1870s, about 20 years after the end of Market Lavington Market.

The corn market appears to have been an event of short duration on market days. ‘…The time for conducting the business of the market, be from Twelve o’Clock, till a quarter past One. The market bell to ring at the commencement, and at the close.’ Maybe there was food awaiting them at the Green Dragon, for the report says, ‘Your Committee recommend all attendants at the market, to transact their business as far as possible before dinner.

The committee felt that the market was doing well, despite ‘as dull a time for the sale of grain, as was ever known.’ Between 300 and 500 sacks of grain had been sold each market day and they were grateful to ‘the respectable growers of grain’ and ‘the respectable dealers in corn’ for supporting the market. The committee considered ‘that the business done at Lavington, has been done with as much advantage to the seller, as at any market in the County.’

The second part of the report concerns itself with transport issues, which we will look at in the next blog post.

The Market at Market Lavington

June 16, 2020

Considering that Market is part of the name of our village, we know remarkably little about our market. A market charter was granted to Richard Rochelle, one of the lords of the manor here, in 1254. Snippets of information gleaned from reference books suggest that it suffered from competition from the markets at Devizes and at Steeple Ashton. Other sources suggest that it was doing good business at various times in history.

The village has a large, central Market Place, to the north of the High Street, which is now a car park. Sadly, we lack pictures and written descriptions, to give us an idea of how it was laid out and whether it was just a farmers’ market or if there were food and other stalls for the general public.

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The postcard shows the Market Place, but this was a one off market event during WWI, many decades after the weekly markets had ceased.

William Camden’s ‘Britannia’ of 1722, said that ‘Cheping Lavington; which is the same with Market Lavington and, if so, it has been a market for above 200 years at least’. (See Market Lavington – what’s in a name? )

badgersAccording to the Historical Manuscripts Commission an attempt was made to deal with badgers at the market in 1612 – 13.

The London Magazine (or Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer) volume 20 of 1751 reported that ‘Market Lavington… has a great corn market on Wednesday’.

Pigot’s National Commercial Directory of 1830 said it was a large market for corn and cattle, although it wasn’t mentioned in a list of Wiltshire markets at the end of the previous century. Peggy Gye, who founded Market Lavington Museum, spoke of the market dealing in corn and sheep.

Kelly’s Directory of 1848 said that weekly markets were still held and had a considerable trade in corn and malt, though that trade had much declined. Hunt’s Directory of the same year is less complimentary, writing that ‘Wednesday is market day, if so it can be called, the market merely consisting of a few farmers, who meet at the Green Dragon Inn, in the evening, with samples of wheat, oats &c. This market has been established for four centuries and was formerly an extensive one.’

We believe that the market wound up in the 1850s. Rev. Atley’s 1855 book, ‘A Topographical Account of Market Lavington’, speaks of the market as a thing of the past – ‘Lavington was formerly distinguished for its corn market and the manufacture of malt, in which articles business to a very considerable extent was transacted …  The market-place continues to maintain its former dimensions, and constitutes the favourite resort of the juvenile portion of the population.’

Just recently, we have had sight of a three page document from 1820, that sheds a little more light on the market.Market report heading It refers to ‘the revival of the market’, which had presumably closed down and recently been restarted. We will look at the contents of this report in another blog.

Market Lavington – what’s in a name?

June 13, 2020

The name Lavington is thought to derive from Lafinga-tun, the farmstead of Lafa’s people. IMG_20200613_210701066

In 2020, we know our village as Market Lavington. This name was used on the large scale Ordnance Survey map from 1900 (above) and earlier Ordnance Survey maps.

maps snip 1

However, if we look at Andrews’ and Dury’s 1773 map of Wiltshire, we see the village named East Lavington.


In fact, over the years, the village has had several names. Going back to the Domesday Book of 1086, we see it called Laventone. It was held by Robert the Marshall, who also held Gore. Confusingly, the next entry says that Laventone was held by Robert Blunt, but that was Bishop’s or West Lavington.

Domesday snip

So, there has always been a need for an affix to the place name to distinguish what we now know as Market Lavington from its near neighbour to the west.

The Victoria History of Wiltshire, volume 10, informs us of various other names in use since Domesday. In 1242 and 1255, it was called Stupel and Stepel Lavington, which may come from the Old English stiepel, for a church steeple. Church towers were formerly called steeples, according to Richard Tomkins in his book, ‘Wiltshire Place Names’. However, by 1316, the word stapul, meaning market, is used. This makes sense, as Richard Rochelle had been granted a charter for a market here in 1254.

A document from 1412 calls the village Chepyng Lavington. The Old English ceapen meant market and this is the derivation of place names such as Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. In 1460, our village is written as Lavington Forum, from the Roman word for a market place.

Early in the 14th century and afterwards, East Lavington has been used, though often to distinguish what we now think of as Market Lavington from Easterton and Gore, which were parts of this parish until the 19th century.

Most of the names given to this place remind us that a market was held here. An interesting report from 1820 has recently come to light, so look out for future blog posts about our market.



A spanner in the works

March 8, 2020

Market Lavington, now considered to be a village, was a thriving, self sufficient little town, with people working in a wide variety of trades. One of these was wheelwrighting, carried on at Gye’s yard on White Street. Previous museum blogs have featured this in photographs and memoirs. See Wheelwright memoriesWheelwrighting and The Wheelwright at work – fitting a tyre.

At the museum, we have a variety of tools of various trades, including this spanner.

spanner for cart wheels snip

This heavy iron tool is 41 cm long, 9 cm across its wider end and the handle is 8 cm high. It was a wheelwright’s hub spanner or axle wrench, used for fixing the wheel of a cart. It is said to date from 1881 – 1920.

Horse drawn carts are now part of agricultural and road transport history, but there was still work for wheelwrights making and repairing cart wheels into the early decades of the twentieth century.  Reminders of this trade can be seen in the Trades Room at Market Lavington Museum.

trades room snip

A cart wheel in the Trades Room at Market Lavington Museum