Posts Tagged ‘Imber’

St Mary’s Church to Imber

April 20, 2016

It’s easy to forget now that once upon a time and still within living memory, real people lived in Imber and carried on real and very normal lives. One of our postcards of St Mary’s Church was sent to a recipient in Imber so we see not only a part of our own village but also get a reminder of our lost neighbour.

Lavington Church interior before the organ was moved

Lavington Church interior before the organ was moved


This is the village church here in Market Lavington in a colour tinted card. We know it is an early postcard because we can see the organ in its old place at the right of the church rather than behind the choir stalls where it is now. But actually, if you didn’t spot that this could have been a taken recently image for little has changed. The font cover, in the foreground is still the same. The pews haven’t altered. As is often the case the village church is unchanging or very slow to change.

Now let’s turn the card over.


Card reverse – sent to Mrs Meaden in Imber

We can see this was a Walton’s series card and it was posted in 1908 and it was sent to Mrs Meaden of 32 Imber. The message is what we’d send by text or some other electronic form these days. Annie is telling her aunt she’ll be home on Saturday evening.

We think Mrs Meaden was Anna the widow of Jack and that Annie, her niece was Annie Collins. But Meaden was about the commonest surname in Imber so we could be wrong there. But Anna Baker Meaden (née Sainsbury) was related to the Baker family who were white smiths in Market Lavington. Ida Baker of Market Lavington lived with her at the time of the 1911 census. She had become an Imber school teacher.


Postcards of Imber

January 13, 2015

Imber isn’t Market Lavington so why are we showing Imber Postcards?

The simple answer is that we were given them and they are, of course, lovely and they do have a tenuous connection with Market Lavington.

Let’s take a look.

Imber Street - no later than the 1930s

Imber Street – no later than the 1930s

Imber, of course, was transformed twice by World War II. First, new modern houses were built for residents to replace these old and (we are told) damp cottages. The cottages were then demolished.

And not long afterwards the village’s life was terminated by the famous edict requiring residents to leave.

A hand written note above the chimneys points to ‘Granny’s Cottage. Granny was Caroline Davis (a married name) and her grandchildren became members of the Oram family in Market Lavington.

Nothing of that street remains, unless the second cottage with the decorated brickwork is the former pub in the village known as the Bell. That has similar decorative brickwork but a picture of the street from the other end shows it was a common feature in the village.

Imber Street. It looks like a motorbike half in shot.

Imber Street. It looks like a motorbike half in shot.

A third photo from the same source may or may not be Imber. It shows a touring evangelist’s caravan.

An Evangelist's caravan and participants. Is it Imber - or maybe Market KLavington?

An Evangelist’s caravan and participants. Is it Imber – or maybe Market Lavington?

‘My Granny’, marked at the right hands end is Matilda Oram, daughter of Caroline Davis and born in Imber. By 1901 she was married to Henry Oram and was living in Market Lavington This picture is, perhaps in the 1920s or 30s but we don’t recognise it as being Market Lavington so we wonder if Matilda might have returned to Imber.

We hope a reader will put us straight.

Here are some of the people considerably enlarged. Maybe you’ll recognise somebody there


We will not accession these cards but will keep them. But please, much as they are fascinating, no more pictures of Imber.  It really is outside our remit.



Film from Market Lavington on the BBC

May 9, 2012

This is very much Stop Pres News

Tonight at 7pm the One Show on BBC1 will be showing footage taken by Peter Francis – a man who has frequently featured in these pages.

Peter was an amateur film maker and amongst many films he took in and around the Lavingtons, there is one of the Forever Imber Rally of 1961.

It is this film – or extracts from it – that you can see on the TV this evening. You can read more about the rally and see stills from the film by clicking here.

The Forever Imber Rally

January 22, 2011

Fifty years ago today, on 22nd January 1961, a mass trespass took place in a bid to get the village of Imber returned to villagers. It had been taken over in 1943 as an emergency war measure, but villagers always understood that their homes would be returned to them when the emergency was over. In 1961, one man, Austin Underwood from Amesbury, announced he’d walk from Gore Cross (which was once in the parish of Market Lavington) to Imber and he invited others to make the trek with him. In the event, some 2000 people turned up and they used 700 cars to get there. It was at least ten times the size that Austin had anticipated.

Amongst the walkers was Peter Francis, Market Lavington’s photographer, who decided on this occasion to produce a movie of the event. We have this movie – converted from film to video and then on to DVD at Market Lavington Museum.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Forever Imber rally, Austin’s daughter, Ruth, has organised an event taking place at West Lavington Village Hall from 9.00 am onwards today. There’ll be a chance to learn about Imber from expert Rex Sawyer. There’ll be music and audiovisual presentations, which will include ‘our’ film. There’ll be activities for all of the family so it’s an event well worth getting to.

Below we show some stills from the Peter Francis film.

The 'Forever Imber' rally set off from Gore Cross. Note the AA phone box which have largely vanished from the British scene.

More than 700 1961 period cars carried people to the rally

Imber Village Street as people on the rally arrive

Some of the 2000 people arrive in Imber on 22nd January 1961

It could be said that the rally failed, for Imber never was returned to former residents. However, the public enquiry which followed the rally did result in the occasional opening of the road through the village and the securing of St Giles Church. This was really a substantial victory which made the need for mass trespass a thing of the past.

The church has recently had considerable renovation and a peel of bells has been installed. People can visit the graves of ancestors and, from time to time, it will be possible to hear the bells ring out at Little Imber on the down, seven miles from any town.