Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Inside Fiddington House

August 10, 2012

Fiddington House was a home for people with nervous disorders from the 1830s until the 1960s. It was privately owned although it took what might be called council residents. But the real money came from providing accommodation for the (perhaps) eccentric older members of rich families.

Such an organisation needed to advertise and we have seen, on this blog an advert for the asylum from the 1880s, when Dr Charles Hitchcock was the owner (click here).

In 1927, the asylum was operated by members of the Benson family. They obviously felt a glossy brochure was needed. Of course, back in 1927, this was in monochrome.

Title page for the 1927 Fiddington House brochure. The entire brochure can be seen at Market La\vington Museum.

The brochure paints a picture of something like a country hotel, with all sorts of facilities for residents. There was, for example, a gentlemen’s club room.

Gentlemen’s Club Room at Fiddington House Asylum

So, our male residents can clearly have a game of billiards or just relax in the convivial surroundings.

For the ladies there was a drawing room.

Ladies’ Drawing Room at the Fiddington Asylum in Market Lavington

So perhaps a lady could sit at the piano whilst others carried out suitable, ladylike activities, such as embroidery.

Reports, even back into early Victorian times do suggest that this was an extremely well run establishment.

Of course, the asylum is now a distant memory. It was entirely rased to the ground in the 1960s and a new housing estate was built on its site.

A First World War Medical Kit

May 19, 2012

Today we look at a tin containing its original contents – medicaments.

A First World War medical kit which can be found at Market Lavington Museum

This little tin was produced by Burroughs Wellcome and Co of London. The Wellcome name is still well known in the medical field.

As we can see, the tin contains Castor Oil, for the eyes. Protective Skin, Tincture of Iodine and Carron Oil for burns and scalds.

This collection was the property of Mrs Rose Crouch. Rose was born Rose Brown Hiscock in Market Lavington. She first saw the light of day in 1904. Her parents were James and Amelia and they lived on High Street in Market Lavington. Rose married Henry G W Crouch in 1934.

Rose was widowed in 1957 but she remained a Market Lavington person. She died in 1987. Both Rose and her husband are buried in the Market Lavington churchyard.

It is believed that young Rose volunteered for the Voluntary Aid Detachment  towards the end of the first world war – she’d only have been 13 or 14..

The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was a voluntary organisation providing field nursing services, mainly in hospitals, in the United Kingdom and various other countries in the British Empire. The organisation’s most important periods of operation were during World War I and World War II.

A 1920s Carnival

February 19, 2012

Before 1948 there was no National Health Service in Britain. Some folks could afford the doctor. Others relied on charity. Perhaps people recognised the problems this caused before the politicians. Certainly, by the 1920s, Market Lavington and Easterton held a hospital week which raised money to provide some medical care for those who would not, otherwise, be able to receive such help. If raising funds was the main aim of the week, then another aim, that of having a really good time, followed closely behind. And part of that was the carnival procession.

Today we look at a group of people who, our caption says, are waiting in the recreation ground, possibly for judging.

1920s carnival entrants at the Recreation Ground in Market Lavington

The recreation ground appears to be a hay field as well for two stacks can be seen behind the girls near the left end of the photo. But we, at the museum, are not sure which recreation ground this is. It won’t be what we now call The Elisha Field, up Drove Lane. That was not used 90 years ago. Neither would it be the football field – The Davis Field – at the top of Northbrook for that, too, is a post World War II creation.

In the past, the field behind what is now Shires Close was known as ‘The Rec’. This could be there but there was also the former cricket ground which is now occupied in part by Lavington School and in part by Dauntsey’s School.

Sadly we have no names for the people in this picture, some of whom seem to be wearing a lot of face paint which may make it that bit harder to recognise them. But if you do happen to recognise anybody then please get in touch with Rog to let him know. Here’s a close up on some of then girls. It may help.

Close up on some of the girls

Otherwise, just enjoy the sight of so many locals enjoying a bit of dressing up.

Fiddington House – a brief history.

January 22, 2012

We do not know where these typewritten notes came from but they tell the story of the origins of the Fiddington Asylum.

Typed notes on Fiddington House, an asylum at Market Lavington

The notes transcribed

In 1816 a Mr Willett, linen-draper in Devizes took premises* in Market Lavington which he named the ‘Market Lavington Retreat’. The Gazette of March 27th 1817 carried an advertisement for this home for the insane. The conductors announce that they have taken for their model the celebrated ‘Retreat at York’, and describe their grounds as ‘pleasantly situated with several acres of ground appropriated to horticultural pursuits, calculated to induce the patients to take bodily exercise’.

The Asylum filled so rapidly that in 1832 when Fiddington Hill Farm and Manorial Rights came up for sale Mr Willett bought these new premises and enlarged and adapted them. It was 1834 before the patients were transferred to their new home where they now had fifteen acres of garden and grounds for recreation. A press notice advertising Fiddington Retreat speaks with enthusiasm of the lovely surroundings, and stresses the fact that there is now ample space for ‘maintaining these distinctions desirable according to the circumstances of life’.

Ann Saunders, in her book entitled ‘Russell Mill’**, says, ‘Uncle Willett and Aunt established a lunatic asylum. My aunt made the house comfortable and uncle made it lively. He laid out the grounds and built the house at Fiddington’.

*Those first premises were at Palm House, High Street, Market Lavington

** We have a photocopy of this book at Market Lavington Museum

Hospital Week

May 29, 2011

Most people thoroughly cherish our National Health Service and don’t remember life without it. But people whose memories stretch back to the 1940s or before will recall a time when access to health care was based on financial means or charity. In Market Lavington and Easterton a carnival week, called Hospital Week was organised to raise money to assist people in need of health care. Today we are showing a picture of a Hospital Week procession on Church Street in Market Lavington. We don’t have a precise year but believe the picture was taken in the 1920s.

A 1920s Hospital Week procession on Church Street, Market Lavington

Here we see a carnival band – very definitely not Market Lavington Prize Silver Band who maintained a high standard of uniform. The band are marching past the premises of former village photographer, Peter Francis, although at the time of the photo the sign above the shop window may say ironmongery. Clear, although partly hidden by the union flag is the banner asking, ‘Please help our hospital’.

A farm cart pulled by a fine shire horse is following the band. Behind the horse is part of Mr Walton’s emporium. The white sign below the word ‘up’ says ‘The house that value built’ and that is still readable in 2011.

On the left of the picture is The Volunteer Arms whose hanging sign can be seen. This was one of four (possibly five) pubs in the village at the time and the landlord was  W R Trotter.

Volunteer Arms pub sign

The sums raised by these events seems very small in the 21st century, but of course, costs were much lower 90 years ago and no doubt the fact that people had a good time helped to keep them healthy.

If you can tell us any of the people in the picture we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Mustard Leaf

May 3, 2011

Mustard Leaf or Mustard Paper seems  to have been important material in the treatment of various  injuries and ailments in times past. We have several examples of the material from the earlier decades of the twentieth century. This package of the material dates from the 1930s.

A packet of Mustard Leaf which can be found at Market Lavington Museum

Our records tell us that this was in the medicine cupboard of Bessie Gye. Bessie, or to give her full name, Lucretia, was the mother of several youngsters at that time, and maybe she found it useful when it came to doing something with suffering children.

This extract comes from the  1904 (1st) Edition of the Manual of Surgery by Alex Thompson, Professor of Surgery at Edinburgh University. The extract is identical in the 6th edition published in 1921.

Unless we’ve missed something, this treatment seems to have dropped out of the medical repertoire these days although some experts still recommend mustard for some ailments.

Hospital week children in 1927

April 2, 2011

This charming photo of youngsters dressed for the carnival in 1927 was taken by the Burgess photographers.

Children in fancy dress for Market Lavington Hospital Week in 1927

We know the names of many of the children. From left to right they are:

  • Bessie Gye who later became Bessie Francis, the wife of Peter who took over the photography business
  • Tom Gye, the soldier, is still living in the village.
  • The tall girl is Lily Drury
  • Bob Drury is dressed as a golly – now politically incorrect but blacking up was not seen as any kind of a problem then.
  • Eric Hopkins looks to be a bus conductor.
  • The next two boys are not named. I wonder if anybody can help there.
  • This brings us to Peggy Welch as a flower girl. Peggy married Tom Gye and was, of course, our museum founder.
  • The next girl is actually Peggy’s brother, Tony Welch.
  • The right hand girl is Phyllis Hatswell who appears to be dressed as a candle.

Bessie and Tom Gye and Lily Drury from a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Here we have zoomed in on Bessie and Tom Gye and Lily Drury.

Behind them we get a seasonal clue for stooks of corn stand in the field. It was harvest time.

A Virol Jar

March 31, 2011

A Virol Jar - one of the Treasures of Market Lavington which can be seen at Market Lavington Museum

Virol was marketed as ‘The Ideal Food’ It was ‘A preparation of bone marrow’ and ‘an ideal fat food for children and invalids’

Virol was first produced, experimentally,  by the Bovril company at their Old Street, London works in 1899. Presumably they decided the product was good for in 1900 the Virol company  became a separate section of Bovril and within the decade it was regarded as an independent company.

Adverts persuading people to buy must have managed to fill parents with guilt, if they didn’t give their children Virol. Simple phrases such as ‘School children need Virol’ were used in adverts that looked rather like editorial content. The message was also shown on enamel advertising signs.

In 1920 production of Virol moved to modern premises in Perivale in Middlesex. Production ceased sometime during the second world war.

Many of the delightful, earthenware jars survive. We have just one small jar at Market Lavington Museum.

A Victorian Hand Warmer

March 28, 2011

These days we are accustomed to well heated houses and public buildings and we get from place to place in cars with efficient systems to keep us at a good temperature. It wasn’t always so and in times past all sorts of little individual heaters were used. Today we look at a hand warmer in Market Lavington museum.

This device was made by a company called Instra. In use, a fuel, probably compressed charcoal, was burned and it was claimed one charge could give three to four hours of warm hands.

It dates from Victorian times and might have been owned by richer people. It may even have been felt to have medical uses.

The basic structure is of a base metal with a silvery appearance. As shown in the images below.

A Victorian hand warmer at Market Lavington Museum

The lid on the hand warmer

Inscriptions on the side of the hand warmer

For much more information visit

An Advertisement for Fiddington House

January 22, 2010

Last year we were handed this advert for the Private Lunatic Asylum at Fiddington House. It comes from an 1880 Kelly’s Directory.

Advert for Fiddington House

A lunatic asylum was founded in the early nineteenth century at Palm House on the High Street. It has been said that there were complaints of noise and that was the reason for the move to Fiddington House – or maybe it was pure commerce and the Palm House site was no longer big enough – the owners felt they could make more money at bigger premises. By the 1840s the asylum was set up in the old country house at Fiddington.

For those who know the layout of the area it may be a surprise to know that Fiddington used to be in West Lavington but by 1880 when this advert appeared there had been boundary changes and the asylum had become a feature of the parish of Market Lavington.

The museum has other items connected with the asylum including photographs and a booklet which advertises the premises, rather as though it was a holiday camp.

The asylum closed its doors in about 1960 and the buildings were demolished to make way for the Fiddington Clay housing.

If you have anything to share or would like further information then please contact the curator.