Posts Tagged ‘Broadwell’

A poem by an unknown person

May 21, 2016

Parish councils don’t always get it right. Back in the 1890s improvements were made at Broadwell. One unknown local was clearly not pleased with the changes and turned to verse to make her point.

We have a typed version of the poem, transcribed below. Enjoy!

This is about improvements carried out at Broadwell in 1890s, by the Parish Council.

Since writing these lines my William I’ve wed,
Be the path rough or smooth it together we’ll tread
And we’re helped by dear children a son and a daughter,
Who heap up the wood and carry us water.

It happened one day I was left all alone
With William whose rheumatiz racked every bone.
I wanted some water to draw from the well

Which the new Parish Council have done up so well.

So off with my bucket so lightly I ran,
The water to get to make spick and span
The home where my William and I now reside,

To the steps of the well with the swift flowing tide.

Alas : for a tragedy I now have to tell,
My balance I lost and I fell in the well.

I fell on my face and in less than a crack,
The icy cold water was over my back.

No one was near my discomfort to see
But a Warminster schoolboy (who is no friend to me).
When he saw my sad state he started me to tease.

But ’twas no laughing matter, I was wet to chemise.

I pray for the Lavington Council so dear
And will use all my efforts in the oncoming year
To get the whole lot, bag and baggage, rejected

And pull down the swell new fence they’ve erected.


Broadwell – about 1880

March 25, 2016

Broadwell features quite often on this site and that is only right and proper. For Broadwell was until living memory for the oldest residents the source of water which allowed our community to develop and prosper. Without Broadwell there’d have been no Market Lavington.

Our earliest image is the 1837 sketch by Philip Wynell Mayow – click here to see it. This painting, recently passed to the museum, dates we think, from around 1880.

Broadwell ca 1880 - a painting believed to be by James Gye

Broadwell ca 1880 – a painting believed to be by James Gye

The cottage we see belonged to Merritt’s the blacksmiths so let’s imagine it is Mr Merritt in the doorway. We can see the pump on the left. It’s no longer there but its former position can easily be spotted. In the 1837 image another cottage stood at the extreme left but that has clearly been demolished and it looks as though the wood may have been planted and fenced off.

The crossing is clearly a ford which has ducks swimming over it (not a common site at Broadwell) but for those who needed dry feet there are some well spaced stepping stones. It all looks an idyllic scene.

We believe this may have been painted by James Gye, grandfather of Tom who died last year. It isn’t signed but is clearly charmingly naïve and similar to another painting which the late Tom had told us was by his grandfather.

Whilst not pre-photography this dates from before common use of the camera so helps fill in a gap in our history. We feel very pleased to have this item in the museum.


Broadwell playground again

February 20, 2016

A fortnight ago we showed a picture of the old playground at Broadwell. This featured the rocket shaped ‘rocking horse’ and a climbing frame shaped like a Gemini space capsule. You can click here to see it.

In that post we mentioned other equipment and now we have located a 1989 photo which shows some of that.

Broadwell playground in 1989

Broadwell playground in 1989

Here we see a girl on one end of a traditional see-saw and behind her is the rocket and a very traditional slide.

Soft matting has been added in areas where youngsters might fall.

There is still no childproof fence between play area and road.

The house in the background is Beech House, long term home of members of the Welch family which included our museum founder, Peggy Gye.

It was clearly a lovely autumnal day when the photo was taken.

We can now give an account of the history of that plot of land. The wonderful sketch by Philip Wynell Mayow shows a lovely cottage there in 1837. When that went trees grew there, surrounded by a nasty spiked fence – still remembered by older folk in the village.

They were felled in the 1960s when some of them were deemed unsafe and before the space age playground was built it was just a grassy area. Now all we need to do is get our modern history sorted to discover when the playground was entirely revamped and fenced.

Broadwell Playground 1980 style

February 8, 2016

Sometimes it can pay to look at what may seem to some of us like fairly recent photos. The one we look at today was taken just as a family snapshot by our curator back in 1980. It shows his son at the Broadwell play area.

Broadwell playground in 1980

Broadwell playground in 1980

There is a surprising amount of history in this photo. It shows the space themed items in this little playground, dating, one assumes, from the mid-1960s. The little lad is on what to all intents and purposes was a rocking horse but it is shaped like a space rocket. The youngsters climbing on the frame in the background were on a structure shaped just like an American Gemini space capsule.

In case anyone thinks there is a little bench at the left side, there isn’t. This was the tail end of a traditional slide.

Should anybody happen to fall then it was straight onto the hard asphalt at ground level. There was no soft rubberised surface back then.

It was a very different world almost 36 years ago!

A fantastic sketch

October 6, 2015

Some little while ago we managed to acquire some sketches of Market Lavington, most dating from the 1830s. They were drawn by Philip Wynell Mayow whose brother, Mayow Wynell Mayow, was Vicar of Market Lavington.

They received their first public airing at our Museum Miscellany, a few days ago. Now a wider audience can see them via this blog.

This is Broadwell.

Broadwell as sketched by Philip Wynell Mayow in 1837

Broadwell as sketched by Philip Wynell Mayow in 1837

But this is not Broadwell as we know it now. The lovely jettied house on the left didn’t survive to be photographed or remembered by our oldest inhabitants. It is sited where the children’s playground is now and that area was remembered as a wooded enclosure by those ninety year old residents.

However, it does appear on old maps.

Portion of tithe map which is at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham

Portion of tithe map which is at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham

This is a small part of the tithe map of 1840. The blue area is the water at Broadwell and the cottage we see is numbered 55. Despite having a copy of the tithe apportionment, we cannot find out anything about number 55.

The other cottage we see in the sketch is number 51 on the map and this was the home of John Merritt, the blacksmith. That building was said to be very damp and was converted to a single storey workshop. The Merritt family used it for smithing, for milking their small herd of cows and many old villagers recall it in use for band practices into the 1950s.

We know that our artist has drawn that cottage accurately so we assume the other one is accurate as well. We think it is fantastic to get a glimpse of the village when it was still regarded as a market town. This sketch is clearly placed and dated – Market Lavington; 1837.


Broadwell revisited

January 23, 2015

It isn’t too far-fetched to say that without Broadwell (which locals tend to say as two words – Broad Well) there would be no Market Lavington. A good reliable source of water is an essential for places of human habitation. Without water, life cannot be sustained. So no wonder Broadwell is regarded as a very important place and has been much photographed. Today’s photo dates from the 1950s.

Broadwell - early 1950s

Broadwell – early 1950s

We can notice straight away some age old problems. Things get thrown in the water. We can also see that back then part of the area was fenced against animals. This, allegedly, helped to keep the water for humans more wholesome. It’s quite hard to see but at the extreme left the village pump can be made out. It’s rather a shame we no longer have that. Behind the pump and in front of the thatched ‘Broadwell Nook’ is a chestnut paling fence which surrounded a small wooden area. In the 1960s the trees were deemed unsafe and they were felled. A children’s play area was built on that patch.

To the right we can see sheds which were associated with the Merritt’s smithing and agriculture business.

This will be a reminder for many older residents and ex-residents of this crucial part of our village.

Planting a Lime Tree

December 29, 2014

Oh woe is us. The caption we have for this photo is ‘Gardening Club plant a lime tree at Broadwell’.  People aren’t named and there is no date given. But of course, the photo has clues.

Gardening club plant a lime tree at Broadwell

Gardening club plant a lime tree at Broadwell

The photo almost shrieks ‘70s’ at us. First of all it is a colour print and they weren’t common prior to the 70s. The two pushchairs in shot are both McLaren Buggies of that era – from a time when push chairs were lightweight and portable.

Easily recognised is Peggy Gye.

The unmistakable Peggy Gye

The unmistakable Peggy Gye

She certainly looks the right sort of age – about 50 – for this to be the 1970s. We have ideas for the names of others, but nothing is certain so we won’t make suggestions.

Instead we ask for help. Can you name any people here?

Boys at Broadwell

July 17, 2014

We have had a glorious spell of weather at the start of July. It was like the summers we remember (probably quite wrongly) from childhood. Then, in memory, the sun shone warmly from a cloud free sky and we were free to be out enjoying those carefree childhood days. That would be just like this group of lads back in 1952.

Boys at Broadwell in Market Lavington in 1952

Boys at Broadwell in Market Lavington in 1952

Our museum caption on this photo says the lads are outside the shed used by the band. Oh, the dangers of old captions. The shed and band are both long gone and so, alas, have some of the boys in the photo. The cartie that one of the lads has is sure to have gone.

This building was close by Broadwell and belonged to Merritt the blacksmith. John Merritt of that family was the band master for more than fifty years and he had the space here for the band.

Our caption gives us a list of names of the lads who appear in this photo – sadly it doesn’t attach names to individual people. What we have is:

Names: Maurice Little, Keith Arnold, Stan Andrews, Gordon Heywood, Johnty Gye, Jimmy Steele, Tim Gye

That’s seven names for nine lads Can you help us?

Let’s enlarge the lads to make it easier.



We look forward to hearing from you.

Broadwell 1929

May 19, 2014

We are looking, today, at another photo from that rather interesting little photo album we recently acquired. Once again, the year 1929 is assumed from the date given on other pictures.


Broadwell, Market Lavington in 1929


We think this is another glorious picture and it shows Broadwell before mains water was piped to the village. This was the main water supply – in fact without the water at Broadwell, there would be no Market Lavington.

Let’s look at some details.

Waterfowl make use of the facilities

Waterfowl make use of the facilities

Here we see the bird life on the water. Above them a fence made sure cows, coming to be milked in a building just off to the right, couldn’t muddy up the water.


The pump was clearly in working order


A family group (people unknown by us) are by the pump which appears to have some water flowing from it. Many locals believed that pumped water was inferior to water dipped from the same source, alongside. Hanging from the pump is what looks like a gutter. This allowed the flow of water to be directed to a water cart or bowser. The hill farmers often needed to haul water from here to their livestock.

This evil fence surrounded the little wooded area

This evil fence surrounded the little wooded area

Here we are concentrating on the awful fence that surrounded the little wooded area (where the children’s play area is now). It was supposed to keep people out – but youngsters, of course, got in. Those spikes rotated and Peggy Gye recalled how hazardous they were and how girls got their knickers caught on the spikes – but she added that nobody ever came to any harm.

And now to the dwellings beyond.

Broadwell Cottage and Broadwell Leigh

Broadwell Cottage and Broadwell Leigh

The houses still exist and the projecting part, on the right, is still thatched. The main bulk of the building was considerably rebuilt in about 1960 and the thatch was replaced then.

As ever, do get in touch if you can tell us any more about the scene or the people.

Broadwell in transition

March 15, 2014

Our first picture today shows Broadwell as it was in 1975. It shows the little white house, across the water. Knapp House towers up above it. The little house had belonged to the Merritt family and from there they ran their smithing business and also their herd of dairy cows.

Broadwell, Market Lavington in 1975

Broadwell, Market Lavington in 1975

By 1975 the pump had gone and so, too had the little wood which had stood just out of shot to the left.

Now we move on to the 1980s.

A new family sized house is replacing the old, damp little building.

Broadwell, Market Lavington in about 1980

Broadwell, Market Lavington in about 1980

It’s interesting that the door in the old building had been bricked up during that brief period.

The new home was given an old sounding name – ‘Ye Olde Forge’. It marks its location although not a bit of the old remains. We guess the builders were using what was left of the old building for storage. It was swept away before the new house was occupied.

The barn and associated buildings on the right now form a part of White Horse Barns. That is also modern housing.