Posts Tagged ‘19th century’

Charles Hitchcock

February 8, 2015

Charles Hitchcock owned and supervised the Fiddington House asylum for much of the second half of the nineteenth century.

Fiddington, as ever, provides a slight inconvenience in that the area with that name was in West Lavington (although physically separated from the main part of that parish) and later it was transferred to Market Lavington.

But Charles started life, born at Cliffe Pypard which is to the north of Avebury, in Wiltshire. He was born about 1812 and we know nothing of his early life. In fact the first firm date we have is that of his marriage to Elinor Knight on 29th December 1835 at Piddlehinton in Dorset.

From the birth and baptism records of his children (at Market Lavington Church), we think that Charles was probably working at Fiddington House by the time of the 1841 census, but not living at Fiddington. We cannot trace Charles on the 1841 census which suggests he lived in the parish of Market Lavington. The 1841 census for Market Lavington has not survived.

But in 1851 we can find Charles as the proprietor of Fiddington House asylum, living on the premises which were then in West Lavington, with wife Elinor and five children all of whom had the middle name, Knight, and all of whom are listed as born in Market Lavington. Their ages varied from 1 up to 12. We know of other children who, sadly, died.

For the 1861 census, Charles was away from home, perhaps engaged in one of his hobbies for he was at Hythe in Kent and listed as Lt of Volunteers (Lieutenant?). Elinor, his wife, was at Fiddington, along with two daughters one of whom was married to a man serving in the Canadian Rifles.

It would have been about this time that Charles acquired the magic lantern projector we have featured before on this site.

In 1871 Charles was still in charge at Fiddington, with Elinor his wife, and a married daughter and family with him.

Elinor died in 1876 aged 62. She is buried in the churchyard at Market Lavington and the burial record says she lived in Easterton. But in 1881 Charles was still in harness at Fiddington. In fact we have featured a directory advert for Fiddington House, with Dr Hitchcock that was published in 1880. Click here to see it.

Charles was still at Fiddington in 1891, but now he was with his second wife. He married Mary Jane Weekes in 1889 when he was aged 77 and she was a mere 38. She was a Market Lavington born governess. Maybe that’s why our photo shows him looking so sprightly.


Charles Hitchcock (1812-95), physician and owner of Fiddington House Asylum

Charles died in 1895 and is buried in Market Lavington churchyard.

Six years later, in 1901, we find Mary Jane living on her own means at Weston on the edge of Bath


The Candle Lantern

November 4, 2014

These days we are 100% used to having light at the flick of a switch. Market Lavington has had mains electricity for long enough that the days before electric light are now before living memory here. More remote places in Britain were still being connected, for the first time, much more recently and there are still many remote places that do not have the supply.

And that meant other forms of lighting. For centuries, the simple light was the candle but can you imagine the night time difficulties. Let’s imagine you need to get up to use the loo. In the pitch black you need to find candle and a method of lighting it. You have to struggle downstairs and out into the garden (for you had a privy at the bottom of your patch). You probably hoped for a clear sky and a moon to help you see your way for if it was dark, wild and windy your candle would get blown out.

No wonder people used the potty under the bed – the ‘gazunda’.

But even so a candle in a glass case was still needed on occasion and that’s what we are looking at today.

Victorian candle lantern at Market Lavington Museum

Victorian candle lantern at Market Lavington Museum

We have this rather elegant lantern hanging above the range in our kitchen. Sadly, as the photo shows, one of its glasses is cracked, but that hardly mattered for it still gave illumination and the candle flame was still protected from the ravages of the weather.

This item is Victorian – nineteenth century and came from a White Street house. Similar items could have been found in most households.

The observant will notice that, as well as having the handle for carrying or hanging the lamp, the base has four feet formed in it. This lantern was equally adept at standing on a surface.

What a delightful lamp it is.


Henry Cannings – once more

July 10, 2014

We have met Henry before. He was a plumber starting off being trained by his father back in the mid nineteenth century. He was also called Henry and after Henry (the second) married he had a son called Henry – it all gets a tad confusing.

Henry lived virtually all his life living on High Street in Market Lavington. Born in 1940, he died in 1904.

Now to be strictly honest we can’t be sure if the item we show today – a small trade plate – belonged to Henry the elder or the middle one. We do think it is 19th century.

H Cannings, plumber - a trade plate

H Cannings, plumber – a trade plate

This little plate – is about the size of a current business card. It is made of brass. It is clearly labelled




The odd thing is that this plate was found in a garden in West Lavington.  We do not know what its actual function was, but presumably Henry carried it with him when out on jobs.


The Reverend Mayow Wynell Mayow

June 29, 2014

We met this gentleman yesterday in connection with a letter he wrote regarding a family emigrating from Market Lavington to Australia. With the name drawn to our attention, let’s find out some more starting with the list of vicars just inside the church.

The most recent Vicars at Market Lavington. The list is in the church.

The most recent Vicars at Market Lavington. The list is in the church.

We can see he was vicar between 1836 and 1860 – a run of 24 years.

In seeking information we come up with that regular snag. The 1841 census for Market Lavington has not survived. However, we have a copy of the tithe apportionment which was drawn up in 1840 and we can find Mayow listed on that.

A section of the 1840 tithe apportionment document

A section of the 1840 tithe apportionment document

From this we see that our Mayow occupied the church and yard himself, along with the Vicarage house and garden, a barn and yard and the Vicarage meadow as well as an area called The Brow. Other parts of his glebe lands had tenants in occupation.

Now the numbers refer to an area shown on a map. We do not have a map at the museum, but we have photographed the one at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham.

The centre of Market Lavington on the 1840 tithe map

The centre of Market Lavington on the 1840 tithe map

This part of what is a huge map shows the centre of Market Lavington. Plot 76, the church and yard is easily found for the church is a large building shaded in grey. The Vicarage shown (number 123) is now a part of the Nursing Home and is near the right hand end of this piece of map. It has plot 124, the barn and yard next to it and the Vicarage meadow (126) behind it stretching away to the Northbrook Stream. The Brow is an area behind that, rising up onto the sandstone slope above the Northbrook.

So from the 1840s we know where Mayow Wynell Mayow lived but we know nothing about him or his family.

Fortunately, there is an 1851 census. This shows Mayow as Vicar of Market (or East) Lavington. He had been born in London in about 1811 and had married, locally, Caroline Kate Smith who had been born around 1825 in Oxfordshire. The couple married in 1846. By 1851 they had three children, Elizabeth Ursula was three, Philip Stafford was two and the young Mayow Wynell was one.

The Reverend Mayow left Market Lavington. In 1861 there were three more children, all born in Market Lavington, but the family were in Kensington. In 1871 four children were at home, which was now Brighton, although Mayow was rector of South Heighton and Tarring Neville – both near Newhaven in Sussex.

In 1881 the family had moved to Halstead in Kent. Mayow, now about 70 was still the rector in that Kent village.

In 1891 Mayow seems to be alone, living in the Southampton area. He died in that area in 1894.

Interestingly, Caroline who seemed to drop off the radar can be found in Rowde near Devizes in 1911. The actual address is Braeside, Devizes. Her widowed daughter, Market Lavington born Elizabeth Ursula is with her.

Caroline died in 1912.

The Smith’s mallet

June 19, 2014

We have looked at this item before when we gave it its dialect name of a boitle. It has attracted some interest, so here’s a little more about this tool and the Smith family who used it.

There’s an almost inevitable reaction when you talk to people about the Market Lavington Smith family and the fact that they were pond diggers. People think that this was the lowest form of labouring for very unskilled people. In fact they couldn’t be much further from the truth.

Of course you can’t dig a pond without some heavy labour but these were people who found the right site for a pond and then constructed it on chalk downland. Chalk, of course, allows water to soak through it. Building a pond that would stand the test of time required enormous skill along with the hard physical labour.

But the Smith family were also business people. They had to be to cope with the fact that their pond making area ran right across the south of England and at least as far north as Nottingham. And Smiths managed the business from their premises on White Street in Market Lavington for more than 100 years.

Sadly not that much has survived but we have a few photos and some other documents published in magazines and we also have an oral recording by Sybil Perry who spent some of her own childhood living with her Smith grandparents on White Street.

And we also have a mallet head.

Mallet as used by the Smith's of Market Lavington in their pond making business.

Mallet used by the Smith’s of Market Lavington in their pond making business.

This has the signs of wear you might expect from a device used to pound clay to make a watertight surface for the pond. Most of this beating tool is made of wood. Traditionally it was a piece of apple wood and should weigh about eight pounds. The beating surface, shown on top in our photo is a half inch steel plate. The handle – we don’t have that – would have been of ash.

At least we have a reminder of this once vital, but now vanished, craft.

A Spittoon

June 8, 2014

I suspect most of us would consider a spittoon to be a rather distasteful item. Perhaps they are in use, but they can look attractive. This one is at Market Lavington Museum.

19th century spittoon at Market Lavington Museum

19th century spittoon at Market Lavington Museum

The first point to make is that what looks like a spout isn’t. It is completely closed at the top and is a handle. This item is made of china and is in two pieces. The cone inside is separate from the main container.

The spittoon was found at 21 White Street

The spittoon was found at 21 White Street

It is the handle’s underside which carries most decoration.

The decorated handle

The decorated handle

This spittoon dates from the early 19th century – a time when deaths from consumption were common. It was found in the attic of 21 White Street in Market Lavington.

Somebody lost their marbles

April 20, 2014

Marbles are truly ancient toys. They have been found in the ashes of Pompeii which means the Romans used them more than 2000 years ago.

Mass production of clay marbles began in 1884 but it isn’t always possible to tell if such clay marbles are from the era of mass production, or from the era of one at a time making.

However, we do think that a couple of clay marbles that we have at Market Lavington Museum do date from the nineteenth century. Here is one of them.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

Being a marble, the size is about 1 centimetre across.

We do not know who lost these marbles, but we do know they were found during renovations at the old Volunteer Arms pub on Church Street. Perhaps marbles was played as a pub game, out in the yard or maybe these toys belonged to family who lived there. For much of the nineteenth century this was a branch of the Potter family. They certainly didn’t lose their marbles in any other sense.

A Boitle

March 3, 2014

If anyone wonders if we have mis-typed the title of this blog then no, we haven’t. This post is about an item which locals call a boitle.  Just as a matter of interest, we have also heard them called bittles by people who come from Rowde, just the other side of Devizes. If you want to find them in a dictionary then you’ll have to use the accepted spelling and name of beetle. In the dictionary, amongst the meanings of beetle we find that it is a large mallet with a wooden head. That is what we are looking at today.

Our ‘boitle’ belonged to the Smith family. The Smiths were famed pond diggers who were able to make the permeable chalk downs waterproof so that ponds could be constructed, suitable for animals to drink from. The wealth of the chalk depended on sheep and, without the so called dewpond, the sheep could not have survived.

In fact we have only the head of the Smith boitle.

Late 19th century boitle (beetle) used by the Smith family of Market Lavington when making ponds.

Late 19th century boitle (beetle) used by the Smith family of Market Lavington when making ponds.

This mallet head is some 30 cm long and is made of wood. It has iron banding for added strength and an iron plate over the business end. We can see what is left of the handle. Sorry! We don’t know how it was fitted.

Ben Hayward of Easterton wrote about pond making (according to Ned) in 1829.

Extract from Ben Hayward's 1829 note book

Extract from Ben Hayward’s 1829 note book

We only have Ben’s book in digital format, but this piece of writing, transcribed, appears as part of our pond digging display.


So, the boitle was used to beat the material used down to make a waterproof layer. Ned would not have used the boitle we have for we believe it dates from towards the end of the nineteenth century.

A Brick from Devizes

February 21, 2014

Market Lavington had its own brickworks but that didn’t mean bricks weren’t imported from elsewhere. At the museum we have several bricks made outside the parish. This one is stamped with the name of Mullings of Devizes.


We know that in the latter part of the nineteenth century a Richard Mullings owned the Caen Hill brickworks in Devizes. We believe the deposit of suitable clay had been identified when the Kennet and Avon Canal was dug – and very useful it proved to the canal company. Some two million bricks were supplied, from this brickworks to line Bruce Tunnel. That’s a colossal number. If the works was able to turn out one brick every second, continuously, you’d be in the 24th day before getting two million bricks.

Now Mullings from Devizes moved out to Market Lavington, and before that Easterton. These were basket makers, involved in a slow, gentle country craft. But we do wonder if our Mullings family had anything to do with Richard the brickmaker of Devizes.

Maybe somebody out there could let us know.

Meanwhile, we can enjoy this brick, with its neatly made octagonal frog with a flat bottom.

The Legg Family

January 28, 2014

Our curator does enjoy it when he gets requests for help or information. He looks upon it as a chance to increase his own knowledge.

A recent enquiry concerned members of the Legg family who lived in Market Lavington in the 18th and 19th centuries. The request, in particular, was about Elizabeth Legg who married John Palmer, clerk, of Calne at Market Lavington church on 13th October 1797. He became Reverend Palmer of Fordington in Dorset.

The Legg who we know about was John, a strange, reclusive character who wrote a treatise on bird migration which we have featured before on this blog. (Click here). John was the brother of Elizabeth and we knew the whereabouts of his memorial stone for it is walked over by all people who visit Market Lavington Church. It is inside the church and is dark and gloomy and hard to photograph and well-worn by close on a couple of hundred years of feet walking over it.

Early morning sun on 11th January saw our curator at the church with the doors flung open so that a bright sky could illuminate the grave.


The same stone mentions Elizabeth Palmer – perfect for our correspondent. He had told us that Elizabeth had left £100 in her will for a ‘handsome monument’ to the memory of herself, her brother John and her sisters Mary and Jane. This monument is high on the chancel wall.


It is certainly ‘handsome’


Sadly, the writing at the top has faded and at present is unreadable.

However, it is clear that Elizabeth saw no need to commemorate her oldest brother, Richard. We have a copy of the will of the father of this family, also Richard and certainly the younger Richard seems to do well in this.

This younger Richard’s daughter, another Elizabeth is commemorated on the Fowle memorial which is just outside the museum gate.


The Legg family were clearly in the gentry class. We know very little about them. Maybe we’ll learn more now.