An eye shade

July 30, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum we have a wide range of artefacts, which have been donated for our collection. We require them to have some connection with the village. Of course, some items are generic and would have been used nationwide. Our eye shade was given to us by an Easterton resident, so that fits the rules, as the neighbouring village of Easterton was once  part of the parish of Market Lavington.

And here is the object, complete with its yellow box.

Eyeshade snip eyeshade box, snip

The eye shade was designed to protect a sore eye from the light. It is flesh coloured on the outside, to tone in with the face, but dark on the inside, to prevent any light from getting through. It has elastic to go round the head and hold it in place.

Faint pencil writing on the box gives us the price – 7 ½. No denomination is given. 7 ½p would indicate post 1971, when we converted to decimal currency and, yes, there was a ½p coin to start off with. However, the packaging looks rather old fashioned for the 1970s and research suggests this to be a mid 20th century item, so we presume the price was 7 ½d, when 240d (pennies) made one pound.

It’s a nice little extra to add to our display of spectacles and other optical items.

Welfare and Comforts in WWII

July 29, 2020

World War II started in early September 1939 and, by the 30th October, a meeting was held to set up a Welfare and Comforts Fund. The idea was to raise money and make articles for the comfort of the Market Lavington men serving in the forces overseas. Assistance would also be given, as needed, to the dependents of servicemen. This might be practical help with the cultivation of their gardens and allotments.

Market Lavington Museum has records of their meetings and fund donations. Of course, sheets of paper and pages from books are not particularly visually appealing, but they paint a good picture of what was going on in the village about 80 years ago.

Comforts 1941 minutes

These minutes from the meeting on 29.9.1941 tell us that the Red Cross had already organised food parcels for prisoners of war, so our local committee would send a Christmas parcel of £1 worth of tobacco to each prisoner. The minutes also show decisions to grant sums of money to local residents to help when they had a sick wife or child.

But where did the money come from for such aid and comforts? Well, these minutes show that the Searchlight Battery had held a concert and sent the proceeds to the fund, but the accounts show more regular fund raising events.

Comforts receipts snip

This page of receipts from the accounts book shows that there were weekly whist drives on Wednesdays and dances on Fridays bringing in monies as well as personal donations and the proceeds of a picture show put on by Peter Francis, the village photographer.

Our final picture shows an expenses sheet from the accounts book. This page covers part of 1942 into 1943.

Comforts payments snip

The committee had to pay for the hire of the hall for the whist drives and dances and they also bought a gallon of liquid coffee, presumably needed for refreshments at their events.

Most of the entries refer to payouts to people in need due to illness or war related tragedies. On this page alone, financial support was given for four people due to illness and there are two mentions of maternity. (The National Health Service didn’t come into being until 1948, three years after the 2nd World War.) Support was given to a war widow and also on the occasion of the loss of a son on active service. Another donation was to give some financial assistance following the death of a husband.

This is just a snapshot of the many accounts we have in the museum, detailing the support given by local people to families in need in the community throughout the war.


A Job in Civvy Street

July 28, 2020

The second world war ended in Europe on 8th May 1945 and the war against Japan was over on 14th August. After that, the forces who had been called up for war service were gradually being demobilised. Some would go back to their previous jobs; others may have needed to look for work.

At Market Lavington Museum, we have a leaflet proposing job opportunities with NAAFI.

Civvy Street snip

NAAFI stands for Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes and the jobs were in canteen work. There were a large number of posts available in the UK, in Civvy Street.That meant they were civilian jobs rather than needing military personnel. There were jobs available for both men and women, in offices, stores, bakeries, canteens, whilst the furnishings work was just for men and the hostels jobs were just for women.

Civvy Street men snip Civvy Street women snip

The income offered shows just how much inflation there has been over the last three quarters of a century. Many of the minimum weekly wages were around the £3 or £4 mark, some with free board and lodging.

Naafi wage snip

The wages are given in shillings, with 20 shillings to a pound and 12 pence in a shilling. So 47/6 meant 47 shillings and 6 pence, or £2.7s.6d for a less experienced woman working for a whole week on a calculating machine.

Women’s pay was always less than men’s. For example the same jobs advertised in the bakeries paid 70 shillings to men or 48 shillings to women for a week’s work.

If one of these jobs appealed, then the back page of the leaflet told you where to apply for further information for work in different areas of the country.

Civvy Street back page snip

A Victorian Evening Bag

July 27, 2020

evening bag 1

This little drawstring bag is about 140 years old dating, we believe, from the 1880s. It is made of black silk and decorated with bands of gold thread and coloured ribbon flowers.

evening bag 2

Viewed from below, we see that its base is a mirror, about 5.5 cms in diameter. (We apologise for the white stripe across the mirror, which is a reflection!)

How lovely that this little accessory has survived all these years and retained its colour.

Amber Beads

July 26, 2020

In our collection of local items at Market Lavington Museum, we have this amber necklace from the 1920s.

amber beads 1

It belonged to the mother of the founder of our village museum and would have been very fashionable at the time of the flappers. It measures 56 cms from the back of the neck to the tip of the tassle.

Real amber is the fossilised resin from ancient trees, but imitation amber beads are also used in jewelry.

amber beads 3

The large bead near the base of the necklace is connected by intricately twisted wire.

amber beads 2

It’s a delightful item of fashion history from a hundred years ago.

All Services Knitwear

July 25, 2020

Services knitwear 1

This knitting pattern booklet contains instructions for knitting a variety of garments for WWII menfolk away at war.

It could be very cold being out on deck in the Navy and this headwear was designed to keep out the weather.

Services knitwear 4

However, seamen might have needed their fingers available, hence this pattern for fingerless mittens.

Services knitwear 3

Interestingly, the instructions are called recipes.

Unfortunately, war could often lead to injuries and hospitalisation, when warm socks might have been needed.

Services knitwear 5

We’ll finish with two dapper young military types, modelling the jumpers knitted by their womenfolk at home.

Services knitwear 6 Man's service jacket, Godfrey

Man’s service jacket – Godfrey design

Services knitwear 7 Man's service pull-over, Fred

Man’s service pull-over – Fred design


Only the Fair Deserve the Brave

July 24, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum we have a book of knitting patterns for making ‘comforts’ for WWII servicemen. It cost six old pence (a 40th of £1).Services knitwear 1

We will see some of the patterns in another blog, but for now we’ll concentrate on what appears just inside the front cover.

Services knitwear 2

Well, there’s a charming picture of elegant ladies reflecting the fashion of the 1940s, if supply and clothing coupons would stretch to such purchases. But the title and surrounding text highlights how differently women were viewed eighty years ago, in pre women’s liberation times.

Services knitwear 8 only the fair

With their men away fighting bravely, the producers of this Paton and Baldwin’s pattern book had no hesitation in telling the women knitters at home what was expected of them.

They look to you, ladies. Your men expect you to stay lovely and feminine, shining like a good deed in a naughty world. Not always easy? The more reason your unruffled poise should put heart into those around you.

The text goes onto promote P&B knitting wools –

You will look very charming and save money dressed in P&B handknitteds you’ve made yourself. Chic … will be yours, the true chic of the thrifty Frenchwoman who hates flashy display and loves elegance that comes from modest means skillfully spent.

So, when the fair ladies had finished knitting all the men’s clothes in this booklet, they could choose some patterns to knit for themselves! Next time, we will have a look at what they might have knitted for their brave menfolk.




A dog muzzle

July 23, 2020

This wire muzzle dates from the 1890s.

dog muzzle

The wire cage encased the dog’s snout and the leather strap was fastened behind the dog’s head, to hold the muzzle in place.

This object had belonged to the Welch family. (Our museum founder, was Peggy Welch before her marriage to Tom Gye.)

The muzzle was last used  a hundred years ago, in 1920, during a rabies scare.

Pince nez – nose pinchers

July 22, 2020

We have a lot of photographs at Market Lavington Museum, taken professionally by village photographer, Alf Burgess, and later by his sons, Burgess bros. However, it is extremely rare to see anyone wearing spectacles in those early pictures. Here is an exception.

Glasses lady snip

This late Victorian image clearly shows a lady wearing a  fashionable hat, who is also posing with her glasses on. Take a closer look at her face and you will see that her spectacles have no arms supporting the frames on her ears.

glasses lady close up

She is wearing a pince nez, in fashion in late Victorian and Edwardian times. This French term indicates that the spectacles are held in place by lightly pinching the nose. On the left of the picture, we can see the chain that could attach the pince nez to her ear or to her clothing, perhaps using a pin or a buttonhole.

At the museum, we have a pince nez in our 20 20 Vision display. The sprung bridge ensures a tight grip onto the nose (or piece of white foam in our display) to prevent them from slipping off.

pince nez snip

See also A Victorian Eye Bath

20/20 vision – but we didn’t see it coming

July 21, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum, we change some of our displays every year. So, at the beginning of 2020, we thought it would be appropriate to have a display about eyesight as 20/20 vision means you can see what an average person can see at a distance of 20 feet. Here is our display.

2020 vision display

What we didn’t foresee was that the museum would not open in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We have already looked at the Victorian eye bath here and will focus on some of our other aids to better vision in future blog posts. We hope you will be able to see our displays for real in 2021.

(See A Victorian Eye Bath)