How to build a mud wall

October 9, 2019

New Street, also known as The Muddle

In Market Lavington, New Street, with its charming row of cottages, is generally referred to as The Muddle.


The Muddle

This strange name is a corruption of mud wall, another name for a cob wall, made from a mixture of subsoil, water and fibre, such as straw. Local recipes might include clay, chalk, lime or sand. Mud walls were built on a stone foundation and topped with thatch, tiles or slate, to prevent them from being washed away. The cob had to be well mixed and was sometimes trampled overnight by cattle to help the process. Each layer had to be left to dry for a few days to ensure it was strong enough to bear the next layer and avoid collapse.

mud wall White House garden

Mud wall at the White House on White Street in about 1958

The last surviving mud wall in Market Lavington, not far away from The Muddle, was in poor condition by 1958.

In Market Lavington Museum, we have some written information about mud wall construction. The Hiscock family of thatchers, also built mud walls.

Thatching Hiscock snip

The Hiscock family travelled around, walling and thatching from mid 19th century into the 20th century

Ben Hayward, of Easterton, just a mile away from Market Lavington, provided us with further detail on how to prepare the cob mixture.

mud wall Hayward

Copy of an excerpt from Ben Hayward’s diary – 1829

Unveiling the Toposcope

June 28, 2019

At Market Lavington Museum, we realise that today’s events are tomorrow’s history. This evening, the unveiling of the toposcope near the army vedette at the top of White Street marked the culmination of five years of events arranged by the Lavington and District WWI Commemoration Group.

We have been given a chunk of granite, as used in the plinth of the toposcope, which we will keep in the museum, along with copies of the speeches and photographs of the occasion.


The crowd at the unveiling ceremony

Cubs, Sea Scouts and a bugler took part in the event at the edge of the military training area, which would have been familiar to thousands of British, Canadian and Australian troops who passed through Lavington before being sent to the battlefields of Europe.


The toposcope plinth and seat, before the ceremony

After the speeches, the toposcope was unwrapped, a wreath was laid on behalf of the British Legion and prayers were led by the rector.


Plinth unveiled

Then the children scattered poppy seeds from ‘tin hats’, remembering the flowers that grew in the war disturbed soil of France.


Scattering poppy seeds

Finally, we all had a chance to admire the disc, depicting so much of local relevance and international poignancy.


The WWI toposcope on Lavington Hill



Trains from Lavington Station

June 27, 2019

Lavington Station, in the parish of West Lavington, but serving Market Lavington folk too, was rather a late and short-lived addition to the rail network. The line connecting Patney and Chirton to Westbury only opened in 1900.

ca 1910 snip

Lavington Station in 1910

7A snip

Lavington Station – Signal Box and Siding

The station was on the Weymouth to Paddington route. At the museum we have the timetable for 1944 in a Devizes area booklet of bus and train times.

Lavington station timetable snip

Sadly the station closed in 1966 and Lavington residents now have to drive to Westbury to catch the train to Weymouth.

16 4 1966 snip

Lavington Station – 16.4.1966

A Japanese Mystery – Detectives Required

June 22, 2019

The museum has just acquired a new postcard. It’s a rather faded sepia print of fourteen people wearing ‘oriental’ clothing and holding fans and parasols.

Japanese troupe

There is nothing on the front to link it to our local villages, but the writing on the back clearly states, ‘The Market Lavington Japanese Troupe.

Japanese card back

The card has not been used postally, so we have no stamp or postmark to help us with a date. The group are clearly dressed up, rather than wearing their own clothes, which makes it hard to infer the period from the fashions. Our best guess is that the hairstyles look Edwardian, though the ladies could be wearing wigs, of course.

So, what was the occasion? Market Lavington and Easterton residents were renowned for dressing up, particularly for the carnival during Hospital Week, in the 1920s and 30s. (There is a display about this in the museum for 2019.) But the setting of the picture, with Japanese paper lanterns hanging in the garden, might suggest an event located there, rather than out in the streets. Could they be the cast of a performance, maybe The Mikado? If so, were they planning to act outside or in a large local building?

There is so little evidence to go on and we would be delighted to hear from anyone with local knowledge who can help us out.

Maybe you have other photographs of this garden with its distinctive trellis. To the right of the trellis, but hard to see, there is chicken wire, which is taller than the gentleman on the right of the picture. Maybe you had family members, fond of performing, and can match a face to a photograph in your possession. Maybe you are aware of the event and its date.

Do, please, add a comment to this post if you have any knowledge or ideas.





A 1944 Timetable Book

June 19, 2019

We have recently received a little booklet of bus and train timetables for the Devizes area of Wiltshire at the end of the second World War.

cover snip

At the museum, we are particularly interested in the bus services linking Market Lavington and its neighbour Easterton with our local market town, Devizes.

Service 41 was run by Bath Tramways and took the route through Potterne and West Lavington, terminating at the Royal Oak pub in Easterton, or occasionally running through to Easterton Sands. The buses ran approximately every two hours, but not on Sunday mornings. Care would have been needed to check the times of the last bus home – 8pm or 9 pm depending on the day of the week.

Service 32 to Devizes snip

Whilst this was the only route serving Market Lavington, the Wilts and Dorset company also put on a service for Easterton folk to visit Devizes on Thursday (market day), on Saturday and on Sunday afternoons.

Light up and Easterton bus snip

Interspersed with the timetables are local advertisements (unfortunately none from our villages) as well as a calendar for November 1944 and the light up times for the same month.

Between 1940 and 1947, daylight saving measures meant that Greenwich Mean Time was not used. That is why page 20 of this booklet refers to British Summer Time for November. In the summer, the clocks would go onto double BST, two hours ahead of GMT. As a blackout was in force during the war, the nights of possible moonlight would have been important to know. Maybe the lighting up times refer to when you could use car headlights and essential external lighting, but these would have been fitted with louvres to deflect the light downwards. We have an example of such a headlight deflector in the museum.

We will look at the train timetable from this booklet on another occasion.






A Market Lavington Rabbit

June 2, 2019

A new addition to our Arcadian China collection

At Market Lavington museum there is a little collection of Arcadian ware – white china models of various shapes and sizes. Arcadian ware trinkets were particularly popular in the early 20th century, many being sold as seaside souvenirs, being less expensive to buy than Goss badged china.

We have a WWI cannon, a frog, an armchair, an Irish kettle (cauldron) and a tambourine, amongst others. Ours are marked with a Market Lavington design, showing St Mary’s church and the name of our village.

rabbit badge

The rabbit is badged for Market Lavington

The underside of  some of our models show that they were produced by the Stoke on Trent factory especially for the local photographer, Alfred Burgess, who had a shop and photographic studio at 13 High Street in Market Lavington, near to the Co-op.

rabbit underside

Information stamped on the underside of the rabbit

Alfred Burgess died in 1918, but he and his wife Marion had several children and the business carried on as Burgess Brothers until after WWII, with Robin taking photographs and George working in the darkroom.


A Victorian Wicker Basket

May 27, 2019

In the late nineteenth century, many young people found work in service in more well to do households. These posts often involved living in the servants’ quarters of the employer’s home, which was sometimes at quite a distance from the servant’s own home.

In Market Lavington Museum, we have wicker baskets, which were used by a maid for storing her clothes when travelling and whilst living away from home.

Servant basket

Victorian servant’s basket

This is half of a two part basket set. A similar, but slightly larger, basket forms the lid. The donor of our baskets informed us that, when girls left service to marry, their basket might be used as a baby’s bed.

1870s cape and gown

Baby boy’s clothes – 1870s

So, our 2019 display at the museum has the ‘baby boy’ wearing a white cotton piqué dress and cape, used locally by the Colman family in the 1870s.






The Drummer Boy Pub Sign

May 4, 2019

Over the years, Market Lavington’s tally of public houses has dwindled, with only The Green Dragon still in operation. The Bell Inn, The Lamb  and The Brewery Tap are ancient history, whilst  The Volunteer Arms (formerly The Angel) closed in the 1980s and the King’s Arms in 2009. The last pub to close was The Drummer Boy, at 25 Church Street, as recently as 2015. At the time of writing, it is empty and about to be converted into two homes, with another one to be built behind.

At the museum, we have not been able to acquire any Wadworth’s pub signs but

Drummer boy words

was a Free House and the new owners kindly agreed to give its sign to us. It arrived this week and needs some tlc and cleaning before we consider how to mount it for display.

Drummer Boy sign snip

The Drummer Boy pub sign

It is but the latest of several signs at the pub. A different picture of the drummer hung there in the 1970s and, formerly, the pub was known as The New Inn, but had to change name when it no longer offered accommodation and so was not an inn.

We look forward to this new artefact joining our many new 2019 displays later in the year.

A memory of the Drummer Boy 

Drummer Boy memories

The Drummer Boy Pub

Hopkins and the New Inn


A well bucket

April 8, 2019
April 8th 2019

In 2018, one of our museum displays featured domestic life before the local villages were connected to mains services. A piped water supply came to Market Lavington in 1936. Before that, water would have been brought from a well in the garden or carried in buckets from the pump at Broadwell or the dipping well at Northbrook. Easterton,too, had  a pump by its stream at the road junction next to Halstead Farm.

The village centres were close to such sources of water but, up on the chalk and sandstone hills, deep wells were needed. The well at Homestead Farm, on Drove Lane, is about 90 feet (or 27 metres) deep.

Homestead Farm well

Homestead Farm well

A recent gift to the museum is a galvanised well bucket, found by a local resident in a hedge in Market Lavington. A rope would have been attached to the loop in the handle and its sloping sides were designed to reduce spillage as the bucket was hoisted up and carried home. This delightful reminder of times past is now in the museum kitchen.

Well bucket

Well bucket

We are preparing many new displays in the museum at present, ready for the 2019 season. We hope you will enjoy them when you visit.

You will find the museum in the old Schoolmaster’s Cottage in St Mary’s churchyard, Market Lavington. Our volunteer stewards will be there to welcome you from 2.30 – 4.30 pm on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1st May to the end of October. Admission is free. Donations towards our running costs are welcome!

Meanwhile, spare a thought for the old well bucket users when you turn on your tap!




Christmas 1916

December 25, 2016

This was the third Christmas of the First World War. People on both sides of the war were away from home, suffering hardships, injury and of course, in some cases, death. By the middle of 1916 conscription into the armed forces had been introduced. Presumably there were no longer enough volunteers.

Back at home people did what they could to help. In the Lavingtons Bert Shore was one of many in the Over-Seas Club and he was awarded this certificate which said A HAPPY XMAS in words and semaphore.

Over Seas Club Christmas 1916 certificate for Bert Shore

Over Seas Club Christmas 1916 certificate for Bert Shore

Bert had helped to send some Comfort and Happiness to the men in the forces.