Posts Tagged ‘laundry’

Starched knickers for Mrs Redstone

April 24, 2016

Mrs Redstone was the schoolmistress at Easterton. Holders of such posts are not always popular with the children and that seems to have been the case revealed here. But let’s first see where Lucretia Redstone lived – a lovely photo of a house in Easterton, just opposite the school or rather where the school once stood.


Mrs Redstone, schoolmistress at Easterton lived here.

Sharp eyed folk will notice a couple of girls in the doorway. They are Mrs Redstone’s daughters, another Lucretia on the left and Mary on the right.

image003Mary was born around 1892 so this dates the photo to very early 20th century.

This, of course, has nothing to do with starched knickers. That comes in a tale from Peggy Gye, our museum founder who was asked to write a piece for the Bratton History Association journal in 1997. Peggy recalled:-

There was a little laundry in the village, which used a pony and trap to collect washing from its customers, some of whom would take their laundry home after it had been washed and iron it themselves, especially if they had daughters. A local man came to the Museum one day, and when he told me a little story about the laundry, I suddenly realised he was talking about my husband’s family. It appeared that my husband’s grandmother used to send her smalls to the laundry. The laundry woman’s little grandson didn’t like my husband’s grandmother who was his headmistress; he thought she was too strict. So he got his own back by starching her knickers.

There could be a moral here – avoid telling tales about people because in a village, your listener might be related to them. But in this case it was harmless enough. I suspect we all snigger just a bit at the thought of the prim and proper school teacher being made a tad uncomfortable by starched knickers!

And we have a chance to show you two ‘daughters’ of Easterton as well.


Laundry Tongs

March 1, 2013

Most of us, these days, use an automatic washing machine. You load it, select the setting and switch on and go and do something else. Later, you come back and remove the washing which already has most of the water out of it. You can easily transfer it to somewhere else to dry.

Of course, it wasn’t always like that. Our curator recalls his mother slaving away at the kitchen sink, washing sheets, scrubbing shirt collars etc, from when he was a lad. Our archivist even recalls helping her mother wash clothes using a dolly tub and posser.

When washing needed a transfer to the next stage it was often very wet, hot and covered in whatever cleaning agents were in use. Tongs were essential.

Then, in the UK, we reached the time of the twin tub washing machine. This had one container for washing and a separate spin dryer. Once again, the washing had to be manually moved from one place to another whilst absolutely sopping wet. Those tongs were needed again.

These days such tongs are largely museum pieces. We have some at Market Lavington Museum.

Laundry tongs dating from qbout 1960 at Market Lavington Museum

Laundry tongs dating from about 1960 at Market Lavington Museum

This pair of laundry tongs looks almost unused although they are 50 or more years old. They date from the time of the twin tub. The construction is simple. Two ‘blades’ of wood are joined by a spring steel hinge. The wood looks like beech although we don’t claim to be experts.

Very similar items can still be purchased so presumably some people still use them and of course, they’d have uses other than for laundry. The home dying of wool or other fabrics comes to mind.

These tongs, at Market Lavington Museum, were used by a White Street, Market Lavington family.

An alternative to the flat iron

January 25, 2013

Before electricity, getting creases out of clothes was a job for the flat iron. These were heavy chunks of metal which were placed on a stove to heat up. When they reached what was deemed a suitable temperature they were used to press out the creases from the washing process. Meanwhile, if you had two such irons, a second one was warming on the stove.

Alternatively, you could have a Dalli or, as we have at Market Lavington Museum, its smaller version, the Dallinette.

A German made Dallinette iron dating from about 1912. This item is at Market Lavington Museum

A German made Dallinette iron dating from about 1912. This item is at Market Lavington Museum

Manufacturer's marks

Manufacturer’s marks

These irons, of German origin allowed users to open them up and put smouldering charcoal inside. This enabled them to maintain heat.  A damper allowed some control over temperature by altering the airflow to the fuel. It was operated by the large knob at the back of the iron.

The fuel chamber in the Dallinette

The fuel chamber in the Dallinette

The top of the iron opens to allow the fuel to be loaded and ignited – and then one iron was all you needed. Adverts made great play of this advantage over flat irons.

An advert for Dalli irons

An advert for Dalli irons

This advert is undated, but makes it clear that the Dalli was pure and perfect. It also indicates that our Dallinette was really for light work and travelling. Another advert claims that the Dalli promotes peace and harmony in the laundry. In part this was because ironing could be done without a hefty and hot stove, needed to keep flat irons warm.

The Dalli even solved marriage problems!

The Dalli even solved marriage problems!

Both ads come from a wonderful website at

Do take a look if you like old and interesting things.

We think our Dallinette dates from about 1912. They were in production from the end of the nineteenth century until about 1930.

Little Dorrit

May 22, 2011

Downstairs in our kitchen area at Market Lavington Museum we have a small stove whose function was to keep flat irons hot and ready for use.

Modern day irons would have seemed like total miracles back in great grandma’s day. She had no electricity with a thermostat to keep the temperature constant and no steam to deliver to help get the creases out. Ironing was a job of real skill – making sure a flat iron, heated on a stove, was not so hot it scorched things but was hot enough to do the job. And it didn’t just need skill, it required muscle as well for flat irons were heavy to lift but still required a firm push down when pressing the linen.

Because the irons soon lost their heat there was a need to have at least one iron warming on the stove whilst another iron was in use. But there were special irons for different work, so a well equipped set up would have a goodly range of different irons. And if you were rich or lucky, you had a stove like this one, dedicated to keeping the irons warm.

This Little Dorrit stove, for heating flat irons, can be found at Market Lavington Museum

This stove is called ‘The Little Dorrit’ and was made by Smith and Wellstood to a design first registered in 1878.
Our stove was once in the possession of Mr Joe Wells and family.