Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

All we want for Christmas

December 24, 2012

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Santa will not have entry to the museum for when we had the roof re slated some years ago we blanked off the chimneys. The one that remains is purely decorative – but it is a proper clay chimney on proper bricks. Many new houses are built with purely decorative chimneys but they are made out of what we’ll rather loosely call plastic.

So what gifts would we like at Market Lavington Museum?

Being cold and mercenary, we’ll have to say donations of cash. Bills keep on rising – boring bills like insurance and electricity. Interior paintwork could do with attention in places. It’s all terribly routine, but these are basic requirements to keep the museum standing still.

Of course we’d love interesting artefacts – items which help to paint the picture of Market Lavington and Easterton and the people who lived here.  Our curator was given a quite surprising book for a recent birthday. No doubt this will find its way to the museum at some time.

Devizes Division Tax Assessments. 1842 = 1860. The book has sections on Market Lavington and Easterton

Devizes Division Tax Assessments. 1842 = 1860. The book has sections on Market Lavington and Easterton

Hmm! Tax returns? It doesn’t look like a book to set the pulse racing, but it contains Market Lavington and Easterton people and, handily, they are arranged by district. Here’s just a bit of a Market Lavington page.

A small section of the Market Lavington residents and their tax dues.

A small section of the Market Lavington residents and their tax dues.

And this gives us a clue as to why our curator is so delighted. Obviously it doesn’t name everybody – only tax payers but amongst those names is William Cambridge – inventor of the Cambridge Roller still used on farms. We can see that he was in the village to pay tax until 1849, but not after. That will have been when Bristol called him.

William Box, the brick maker, on the other hand, arrived in 1855.

We love photographs – even of ordinary things. It was a photo from the church tower which included the old petrol station on The Spring that gave us a lot of pleasure recently. It was taken thirty years ago and is full of information about our past.

We love information. If anyone wanted to write down their memories of Market Lavington or Easterton for us it could make a gift beyond worth. If you’d prefer to talk your memories then get in touch and we can arrange to do it.

Finally, we’d like people to visit the museum. Of course, plenty do, but we make changes every year. If you have connections with our parishes then this is your museum with your history in it. Do find time for a visit. Click here for Christmas opening times.

A Welcome to Lavington Community Band

December 20, 2012

It is close on 50 years since there was a band based in Market Lavington. But now the phoenix has risen again. A new band, Lavington Community Band, has been formed. Yesterday it made its first public appearance at ‘Carols in the Old School’.

The band, under the direction of Mervyn Smith, led the singers through a range of popular Christmas carols. Perhaps it wasn’t the bleak midwinter for it was wild and wet – that might explain the disappointing attendance, but it certainly was not calm or quiet in the hall as band and singers gave it their all.

Lavington Community Band before its first public perrformance on 19th December 2012

Lavington Community Band before its first public perrformance on 19th December 2012

That’s the band at the start, and here they are in full flow.

Lavington Community Band get into their stride

Lavington Community Band get into their stride

You can click here to hear and see a verse of ‘Hark the Herald’.

Well done Lavington Community Band. How wonderful to have a local band, once again.

We Three Kings

December 16, 2012

We three kings of Lavington are two thirds unknown.

Three Market Lavington Kings for the Christingle service of 1984

Three Market Lavington Kings for the Christingle service of 1984

We were kings for the Christingle service in St Mary’s Church in 1984. It’s now 28 years on, so we are adults now.

The king on the left is definitely a Gye.

King number 1 is a member of the Gye family

King number 1 is a member of the Gye family

The other two we have no names for – even comparatively recent events can get lost in the mists of time.

But someone out there will recognise these youngsters. Here’s one of them.

King number 2 - unknown

King number 2 – unknown

And here’s the other.

King number 3 - unknown

King number 3 – unknown

This year both Market Lavington and Easterton have Christingle services at 4pm on 24th December.

Buying presents in 1905

December 14, 2012

The commercialisation of Christmas is nothing new. Way back in 1905 a trader was able to hire the Workman’s Hall in Market Lavington to display his wares. He sent a letter to locals advising them of his sales.

Circlar letter from George T Smith of Devizes advertising his sale days in Market Lavington

Circular letter from George T Smith of Devizes advertising his sale days in Market Lavington

So George T Smith, auctioneer of Devizes, was bringing a collection of goodies to Market Lavington to sell, in time for Christmas 1905.

He was selling items made of what we might term china. Whether you wanted a five feet tall ‘jardenierre’ or almost any kind of tea or dinner service – Mr Smith had them. If you wanted nut bowls, fruit bowls or lunch trays all you had to do was turn up at the Workmen’s Hall at 3 pm or 7pm on 27th to 29th November and then bid.

We are sure that this provided a good social occasion as well as an opportunity to get vital items for the festive season.

Christmas Openings – 2012

November 29, 2012

Last year, for the first time, we had a couple of very successful Christmas openings. We are repeating this idea this year. We will be open on:

Wednesday 26th December from 2pm to 4pm

Saturday 29th December from 2pm to 4pm

Sunday 30th December from 2pm to 4pm


Some displays will have changed since we closed at the end of October and this will be the first opportunity for visitors to see the workings of the clock which used to be in the Workman’s Hall.

But let’s celebrate Christmas with a snowy picture.

A snowy scene on The Spring, Market Lavington in 1915

This was a scene along The Spring, Market Lavington in 1915.

The Nativity Play

December 25, 2011

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without children performing a nativity play – and I bet most adults will remember the part they once played and that expectation from parents that Mary or Joseph would have been the right role for their child.

For Christmas Day, this year, we are looking at a nativity play performed in St Mary’s Church.  Our records just give a date of the 1950s. We think it was probably very early in that decade. Most of the people shown here will be more than 60 years old by now.

Nativity play at St Mary's, Market Lavington in the early 1950s

The named youngsters are Janet Burt as the Angel Gabriel and Josephine Stevens as Mary. Other youngsters known to be in the play are David Baker, Carol Davis, Tim Gye, Wendy Merritt, Susan Shepherd and Brian and Chris Stevens.

If you fancy a different Christmas Day activity, why not get in touch with us and tell us who else is in the photo. Maybe you have other memories of Christmas in Market Lavington or Easterton which you’d like to share with us.

Christmas at Easterton School

December 24, 2011

Today we have a charming school photo from Easterton School. This school was closed in 1971 when the new joint school for Market Lavington and Easterton was built – St Barnabas School on Drove Lane. The building itself was demolished soon after closure.

However, today’s photo dates from long before there was any idea of the school being replaced. The school which had served Easterton for 70 years or so probably seemed solid, dependable and permanent to the people seen in the photo.

Father Christmas at Easterton School in the 1950s

Unfortunately, we have no precise year and no names for any of the pupils or adults. ‘Father’ Christmas (just look at ‘his’ shoes) seems to have been out in the snow for his cape has blobs of the white stuff on it. ‘He’ is opening the sack to give a Christmas gift to a little girl. Some of the other pupils seem to be holding their gift already whilst others are clearly concerned about when it will be their turn.

Can you help us with names and a date for this photo? Do, please, get in touch.

A Christmas Essay

December 22, 2011

Back in 1984 members of the Market Lavington and Easterton Darby and Joan Club wrote essays for the Age Concern Wiltshire Essay Competition.

The essay below is by Isobel Burt who wrote about Christmas memories.

An Old Fashioned Christmas

By Isobel Burt

My father died in the First World War and my brother and I lived all our childhood with Grandmother. She made for us a Christmas which was always a time of wonder and magic. Excitement began when she brought out the big earthenware bowl. Then, in the lovely warm kitchen, we prepared the fruit. Peel had to be chopped (I can still, in imagination, taste the sugar that was in the middle) cherries prepared, raisins, stoned, almonds skinned and suet grated. Then mixed with other ingredients, all was stirred and we wished. Often, I wished that I could be chosen as the Virgin in the Church Nativity, but alas, plump and fair, I was always an angel!

The puddings made, we prepared the mincemeat. Next day, the puddings were boiled, rolled and tied in a cloth. Never did Grandma steam them in a basin – the kitchen was full of steam and happiness: Christmas cakes were baked and stored.

We wrote our Christmas cards and the postman brought cards and parcels which mysteriously disappeared. The shops were not decorated as early as they are these days, but suddenly they would become like fairyland. How we pressed our noses to the window panes, longing to possess some of the wonderful toys within.

Soon the Carol Singers came nightly and we too went with our Sunday School friends and sang, often with more gusto and glee than tune. Often we were asked into the houses for biscuits and mince pies and a hot drink, returning home hoarse, but replete.

As Christmas Day drew near, we gathered evergreen and decorated the Church and then came the Carol Service when we performed our Nativity Play. We had a party at School and Santa Claus came, looking very like the Vicar and, hooray, we were home for Christmas.

Did it always snow for Christmas? In my memory it did. So being home all day, we decorated the house. The tree came to sit grandly in the sitting-room, where we children rarely went. Out came Grandma’s treasure box, we decorated it, sitting the angel doll right on the top. Parcels were put under it and breathlessly we waited for next day.

First the bird arrived, it looked so cold minus its feathers, it always aroused my pity. This day we always went into the town. Our great pre-Christmas treat, to visit Santa in his grotto and have a present which we could open straight away. So to Christmas Eve, when many of the family arrived – Aunts, Uncles and boy cousins, Mother and step-Father and young step-Brother. The house was full of folk and a wonderful smell of baking! That evening we played party games, sang with Aunt at the piano and just before bedtime Grandma would tell us of that first Christmas Day. Then with stockings hung on the doorknob, we were off to bed. As I lay there, one girl among the boys, I could see from my window, that star and would peep to see whether there were shepherds or Magi outside. How I wished the boys in their rooms would be quieter. They might awaken the Baby! Dreaming sleep would come and I would waken to find that magical stocking on my bed -“Happy Christmas” was shouted by one and all. After breakfast, we all went to Church for a short service. On the way home, we took small gifts to Grandma’s friends, older and more infirm than she was. The ladies hurried home and on our return the wonderful smell of lunch greeted us. We ate until we could eat no more and then most of us went for a ramble. Who washed up? With red noses, cold fingers and toes, we came home to tea. Scrumptious my brother called it. How we pulled crackers and laughed until that lovely long awaited moment!

The candles on the tree were lit and shone like myriad stars, the heap of gifts distributed. What magic caused me to find in mine the things I had coveted in the fairyland shop window! There was, of course, no television – parlour games were played. Oh! What great fun they were, yet so tired were we with our happy day, we willingly went to bed to dream of it all.

I was about eleven years old when, preparing the puddings, I asked “Grandma, is there really a Santa Claus?” She told me about St. Nicholas – “You see Santa Claus is love, remember at Christmas we celebrate Christ’s birthday – He was the greatest Gift that God in His great love could give us.” So I still hung my stocking with a greater feeling in my heart, for I knew love would fill it. So each Christmas passed, the same yet ever new.

In May 1931 I came as a probationer to a private mental home and loved both the work and Wiltshire – I was just seventeen. In December I was junior in a ward for the worst cases – it was hard work and I had little time to be homesick.

Christmas Eve came and we decorated the big Day Room. The gardeners brought in the tree and we loaded it with gifts. The local Churches came and sang Carols to us and some of the patients were very excited. One, whom I learned to love, was a wonderful pianist and when she was feeling pretty well, would play anything we requested. Today she played Carols, everyone began to feel Chistmassy. Next morning we were up early and made the day a time of merry-making. The village Band came to entertain us – those who could went to the Chapel in the Home, but I was kept busy on the ward. After a marvellous lunch, the Staff had a very hurried one, then everyone connected with the Home and their families came to the Day Room. Each one had a present from the tree. There we danced and sang until the kitchen staff went off and returned bearing a superb tea for us all. When everything was quiet again, we made the remaining time as happy as possible. It was sad that some patients had not seemed to realise that it was Christmas. After supper, we put them gradually to bed. How tired we were, but we enjoyed our cold supper provided by Cook. In front of a lovely fire in the staff room, we had time to open our presents. I left Grandmother’s until last – was I the only nurse who suddenly wondered, “What is happening at home?” Then from the parcel came mince pies, a round Christmas pudding, a cake and a small stocking with tiny contents -how did she know I had been coveting a wrist watch? And a card on which she had written “Don’t forget Love came down at Christmas.” Sister joined us, “Have you been homesick?”, she asked and truly I replied, “No thank you Sister, I’ve been too busy”.

Grandma’s words are still true! A real Christmas is always old fashioned for Love came down nearly two thousand years ago and we celebrate His birthday at Christmas.

A Christmas Card from William Cole

December 14, 2011

This card featured on the museum stall at the recent St Mary’s Christmas Bazaar

A 1908 Christmas Card from William Cole, formerly of Market Lavington

It has a black and white stage coach scene pasted on a simple card. Sadly, the card is not in perfect condition – as the booksellers say, it is slightly foxed.

The card was sent by a young man who had moved from Market Lavington to Cheltenham. His name was William (Eades) Cole. He sent the card in 1908.

The ready-printed message in the card

William was born in 1893 so would only have been about 15 at the time. Maybe he felt a fully printed postcard made it look as though he had got somewhere in the world – or maybe he just thought it would save him the fag of writing cards. Or perhaps it was really his widowed mother who was dealing with the cards. She and her husband had run the bakery where Market Lavington Post Office now is and William’s mother, the former Sarah Ann Sumner had probably been born at that shop at 1 High Street, Market Lavington. Just when and why they moved to Cheltenham, we don’t know, but Sarah Ann was listed as a widow and a retired grocer in 1911. So, too, was her sister who was with them in Cheltenham in 1911. At that time William was the earner, working as an outfitter.

But clearly their friends back in the old home village were not forgotten.

Vegetarian Plum Pudding

December 1, 2011

Christmas is coming. Maybe now is the time to be making your Christmas Puddings and here is a recipe to suit all vegetarians (but not vegans). This is a recipe we have at Market Lavington Museum and it is in the hand of Samuel Saunders. Samuel was one of the sons of Amram who we have met on these pages on a number of occasions.

Many of Amram’s children flew the nest completely, making their mark in places such as Hull or even New Zealand. Samuel remained a local, Lavington Man, building a house on Kings Road (as we now call it) where he lived a simple life growing and preserving fruit.

He was reckoned to be one of the earliest people to totally abstain from alcohol and he was a vegetarian for most of his long life. In 1907 the Vegetarian Society celebrated its 60th anniversary and a report says:

Telegrams of good wishes were sent during the Conference to octogenarian members of the Society, to Mr. Samuel Saunders, Market Lavington, 94 ; Mr. John Albright, Lancaster, 92 ; and to Mr. Thomas Wyles, Buxton, 90.

It seems that the alcohol abstinence and the vegetarianism did Sam well.

Here is Sam’s recipe for Plum Pudding or Christmas Pudding as we might call it.

Samuel Saunders vegetarian plum pie recipe, from the 19th century can be found at Market Lavington Museum

Does anyone out there fancy making this – boiling or steaming it for eight hours?