Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

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?


Ho-Ho Hoe

December 25, 2014

Forgive the pun – but hey, it is Christmas Day and that, by now traditionally, is the least busy day of the year on this blog. Viewer numbers are usually very small. We’ll even try a low pun to get the numbers up.

Now what on earth else are people doing on Christmas day? Apart, that is from seeing friends, family, giving and receiving gifts, eating, drinking and generally being merry, maybe attending a church service or some other gathering etc etc.

Well, they could be out in the garden and it is a garden tool – or part of one, that we are looking at today. And yes, of course, it is a hoe.

A local blacksmith made hoe dating from the 1880s

A local blacksmith made hoe dating from the 1880s

It’s a reminder of past times. These days if you want garden tools you go to a shop and buy them. Back in the 19th century you went to your local blacksmith and had one made. This hoe was made by a local blacksmith some 130 years ago. It has suffered the ravages of time – it really is quite rusty.

Obviously there is no handle but it would have been quite substantial. This hoe blade is a hefty item with a width of about 25 cm (10 inches) which is much wider than most current hoes. Its shape suggests that it was a hoe which cut down weeds on the push and pull strokes.  Of course, neither the front nor the back is particularly sharp now.

With another Santa ‘ho-ho hoe’ can we at Market Lavington Museum wish all our many readers a very happy Christmas under whatever name you care to call this season of the year.

A digging plate

November 16, 2014

Many spades have a kind of lip on the top of the blade so that when pressure is applied ordinary footwear is adequate to protect the digger from pain.

Some spades, though, have quite a sharp top to them and tough soles are needed on boots or shoes.

Or alternatively, you could attach a digging plate to your boot or shoe. This consists of a sturdy metal plate and a leather strap to fasten it under the sole of a shoe.

A digging plate at Market Lavington Museum

A digging plate at Market Lavington Museum

This dates from late in the nineteenth century and was used by a man who had an allotment on Northbrook.

From the underside we can see that the plate had a little lip to make sure it didn’t slide off the spade.

The lip on the underside

The lip on the underside

Now there’s a real reminder of past times.

A seed pan

October 11, 2013

These days those of us who grow plants from seed expect to put seeds in trays made of rather flimsy plastic. Such trays are suitably shallow and have plenty of drainage holes so that it is hard to swamp the little seedlings with too much water.

But what about times past?

Our curator remembers his dad using wooden trays that greengrocers had – the kind that citrus fruits came in with the fruits each wrapped in tissue paper. But such boxes rotted away quickly.

In times even longer past, gardeners used seed pans made of clay. These were made by the local brickworks. We have a number of these seed pans at Market Lavington Museum and this is one of them.

19th century seed pan at Market Lavington Museum

19th century seed pan at Market Lavington Museum

This pan dates from the second half of the nineteenth century. It is about 9 inches square and is deeper than a modern plastic tray. If we turn it on its side we can see that it has four holes for drainage.


seed pan drainage holes

seed pan drainage holes

A prudent gardener would have covered these with large stones to make sure not too much of his compost washed away.

The chances are that this was made at the Lavington brickworks when it was owned by William Box, but we cannot be certain of this.

Mr Pinchen’s Potato Clamp

June 4, 2013

We have looked at this image before on this blog, but we are always pleased to add extra information.


Two years ago (click here) we didn’t know the family but we now gather they were the Pinchen family. Mr Pinchen is resting his hand on his spade as he surveys his potato clamp. This looks like a long, low thatched structure and almost looks as though it is a part of the thatched cottage. It is Mrs Pinchen who seems to be working

Behind Mr Pinchen, in the trees, we can see the former Vicarage which is now part of the nursing home.

This particular image has travelled, for it came to Peggy Gye from India. It is said to date from 1914.

Gardeners at Clyffe Hall

March 19, 2012

A ragged bit of picture gives some idea of the scale of gardening that went on in past times.

Gardeners at Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington in the 1920s. This rather ragged photo can be found at Market Lavington Museum.

The scene is said to be Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington. Two gardeners can be seen, tending to the shrubs and borders that line a path. It looks quite a task to keep these borders in tip-top condition.

We do not think either of these gardeners are the head gardener at Clyffe Hall. Let’s take a closer look.

Bill Elisha of Market Lavington is on the right. We do not know the man on the left.

On the right we see Bill Elisha. Bill worked as a gardener at Clyffe Hall before his marriage to May Potter – the early 1920s. Bill, of course, later became chairman of the Parish Council, stalwart of the football club and very keen on poultry.

We do not know who the man on the left is. Do get in touch if you can tell us.

A lightning strike

February 7, 2012

These days ‘lightning strike’ may make people think of workers downing tools and not working. But of course, the reality is that lightning is actually a huge electrical spark that can cause real damage.

On 30th August 1911 a tree was struck by lightning in the grounds of Clyffe Hall. Mr Burgess, the photographer got there to photograph the scene.

Tree struck by lightning at Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington

Good old Alf Burgess – he captioned the postcard he produced from this photo with all the required detail.

Caption on the card gives the date and place - August 30th 1911 at Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington

And the card was used – sent to a loved one.

The message on the card

We haven’t decoded this message yet but wonder if there might have been a connection with the Potter family. Once again, we’ll appeal for any help.

A Turf Lifter

September 4, 2011

At the recent Easterton Country Fair, a stallholder dashed home to bring the museum a tool he had found in his shed. He thought it might have been a paddle used for lifting bread from a bread oven. These items were known, variously as paddles, peels or even shovels.

A quick glance at the offered tool was enough to rule out the idea of a bread oven tool. Those peels were usually 100% wood and very straight. The picture below comes from and shows a peel in use.

A baker's peel in use

The offered tool was metal (and had lost its handle. It also had a large bend in the shaft which would not have gone into a bread oven. It certainly looked more like a gardening or agricultural implement.

Our new tool was certainly not a peel

So, we knew what it wasn’t, but nobody at the fete could tell us what it was. Our curator searched the web for ideas, but it isn’t easy to find items if you don’t know what search words to type in.

But if the web fails, there is always a chance that a local expert might be able to help. So, the next day, the tool made its way to Tom Gye, widower of our late and much missed founder, Peggy. As luck would have it, Tom had relatives with him and one of them had worked in a place displaying tools like this. In fact Tom and both his visitors all knew that it was a spade for lifting lawn turf.

Now once you know that you can find similar items, on sale today, listed on the World Wide Web – sometimes under the name of a sod lifter.

The new tool at Market Lavington Museum is a turf lifter

Our curator has pretended, here, to fit a handle to show how it might be used. In truth, the handles are longer to avoid quite so much bending and, of course, the cutting blade needs to be below the turf.

For the next question, does anybody knew why such a tool was used in Easterton? Amongst users, these days, are grave diggers and sports grounds men.

Northbrook Allotments

June 8, 2011

The sands have long been seen as a place for market gardening although some might think that the inability of the light soil to hold moisture and nutrients was something of a disadvantage. However, back in Edwardian times an area was set aside for allotments and here we see a family working their patch, probably in the early years of the 20th century.

Allotments in the Northbrook area - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

The view is clearly from the Northbrook side of the village and there’s no doubt that White Street is  across the valley and making its way up onto Lavington Hill. But we are struggling to identify buildings seen on the right of the picture.

Could that gable end be on The Terrace?

We do not know who the hard working family are either. It’s a remote chance but maybe somebody can help.

Any idea who the people are?

The barrow that is in use is of its age. These days we expect a metal frame and either a metal or a plastic barrow on it with a metal wheel with a good tyre or maybe a large plastic ball for a wheel. One hundred years ago the material of choice for a barrow was wood. The only metal would have been screws or nails and a metal tyre on the wheel.

Mole Traps

March 5, 2011

Moles are a perennial problem. In a walk around local fields the other day our curator saw one field which was a mass of mole hills. The tunnels made by these small and cute ‘velvet gentleman’ make it hard for crops above them to grow well and there’s a risk that animals will stumble as their foot breaks through into a mole tunnel. In the days when farming used animals for power, this was a real hazard. Control of the little creatures was essential for the well being of the draft horse as well as the growing crops. Making mole traps was big business.

At Market Lavington Museum we have no less than ten mole traps, which  might indicate the importance these items had. Here we show just one of them from a collection on display in the trade and crafts room at the museum.

Scissors Mole Trap - one of ten different mole traps at Market Lavington Museum

This mole trap probably dates from the mid 20th century but similar devices can still be bought today. They are of a kind known as scissors mole traps. The spring loaded jaws are held apart by a ring and the device is placed in the tunnel so that the mole will push on the ring which causes the jaws to snap on the poor, unfortunate creature. These days, many people  may  regard this as unacceptable, but in past times, with a livelihood a struggle to make, there were no such views about destroying pests. Even today there are concerns that mole hills can introduce deadly listeria into silage so farmers have plenty of reasons to dislike the mole.