Posts Tagged ‘metal’

A Mystery object

January 21, 2016

Or a mystery solved

Once again we draw attention to one of our favourite websites. This is ‘Under the Floorboards’ and can be found at We use it to introduce an item found under a Market Lavington set of floorboards.

The floorboards concerned are at 21 Church Street. This is an interesting building having been the HQ of Price’s horse coach in the mid nineteenth century and the HQ of builders and merchants called Hopkins in the 20th century, before becoming just another private house. It is being renovated at the moment and a number of items have been found under floorboards. This is one of them.

Small metallic object - but is it a spinning top?

Small metallic object – but is it a spinning top?

Of course, it can be hard to judge size with just a photo, but this object is small and is seen here resting on our curator’s little finger.


It would seem to be made of lead.

This was given to the museum at a regular get together known as ‘The Casual Cuppa’ which takes place at the village’s community run coffee shop known as Saint Arbucks.

A group including our curator, archivist, a couple of stewards, one of our older long-time residents plus others discussed this item.

Some became convinced it was a miniature spinning top and even proved it by spinning it and you can click here to see a very brief film of the item spinning.

Later, a search of the web for spinning tops revealed nothing like it so we threw the ‘what is it?’ problem to our wider museum community and rapidly had the suggestion that it could be an air gun pellet.

But other experts, made aware of its calibre, felt this was actually a fire arm bullet. We even got some suggested dates which point to it being around the end of the 19th century. But this is not confirmed

That would appear to be the truth – unless you know different. But we’d still like to get a verified date on it, of course.



This might grate

January 18, 2015

Well it certainly would have done once for that was its purpose – to grate cheese and other foods.

Yes, it is a food grater.

1920s cheese grater at Market Lavington Museum

1920s cheese grater at Market Lavington Museum

We believe this grater dates from the 1920s but of course, similar products can be found and used today.

The grater is made of steel and for those who have never used one, the idea of the top holes is that you slide your piece of cheese downwards and the knife like edges at the bottom of each hole takes thin slithers off the cheese and pushes them out of the back of the grater.

The smaller holes at the bottom might be used to take off lemon peel in small pieces suitable for flavouring a cake.

Back in the 1920s, and now, 90 years on, you have to be very careful of your fingers for the device will happily grate them as well. OUCH!

This grater is on display in our kitchen room which shows off all sorts of items from country kitchens in Market Lavington and Easterton from times past.


The keys – but to what?

September 20, 2014

Good old Norman is what we say. He has found so many interesting items with his metal detector, and passed them on to us.

Today we look at a couple of keys.

Two 12th century keys found in Market Lavington

Two 12th century keys found in Market Lavington

Norman has always been careful with information. He has taken items to the finds officer at Devizes and has these keys dated to about the 12th century. They are something like 900 years old.

They are small keys – about 7cm long – certainly not the large church door type keys of old. These must have been used to lock away personal items in some kind of cupboard or cabinet or maybe a small chest or casket.

There is not much more irritating than losing a key. It means you have to break in to your own item and render it useless as a safe and secure storage place. So no doubt one or two 12th century people were really annoyed that these keys jumped out of their pocket or bag and got lost in a field, somewhere in Market Lavington


Metal detecting finds, August 2013.

August 28, 2013


With the harvest over and the soil scratched up, it was no surprise that metal detectorists appeared on the fields above the village. The metal detectorists we find in Market Lavington all seem like good sorts. They record their finds, seek out the help of professional archaeologists and absolutely always have permission to work the fields.

They also have an enthusiasm and dedication which almost beggars belief.

The lonely life of the metal detectorist on the fields above Market Lavington

The lonely life of the metal detectorist on the fields above Market Lavington

There we see a detectorist at work in rather drab weather slowly patrolling the big fields. Later in the day it drizzled and then rained but our friend continued his patrol.


Yes, it is a man with detector and shovel

Yes, it is a man with detector and shovel

Our curator wandered out into the field to meet this chap with the hope of photographing any finds. This he did, but he was also given some items.

People have been losing money in these fields for close on 900 years, as evidenced by the finds of the day.

Let’s work through time.


This is a penny. It is made of silver and probably dates from the reign of King Edward II in around 1290.

If you want to know how annoyed the person was who lost that coin just consider that the time taken in earning that penny would have earned today’s labourer some £56. It was significant money.

Lost in the same field, but more than three hundred years later is this rose farthing, probably from the reign of Charles I


This might be like us losing a £2 coin

Now we’ll move on to the 20th century where some poor soul lost this 1919 penny.


The loss of this was probably more like us losing 50p – assuming the coin was lost when it was quite new.

And finally, a 1960 sixpence.


That shows the use of base metals for coinage. The silver coloured sixpence is very tarnished. Inflation has been significant in the last fifty years so even that sixpence loss would be more like losing a one pound coin now.

Our thanks go to ‘Cooky’ of the Trowbridge metal detecting club for his time and for the gift of these and other items.

A Trundling Hoop

July 31, 2013

The other day our curator was walking to the museum when he met Dave who lives on Northbrook.

‘I’ve got something that might interest you’, said Dave and he nipped into his shed and came out with a metal hoop – this one

This trundling hoop, probably 80 years old, can now be found at Market Lavington Museum

This trundling hoop, probably 80 years old, can now be found at Market Lavington Museum

Dave went on, ‘It’s one of those kid’s hoops they used to roll down streets using a stick. I think that was a bit of hazel normally’.

He went on to say that the hoop had belonged to his dad.

Well, the hoop now belongs to Market Lavington Museum and we are trying to find out more about it.

It seems that both girls and boys used hoops in times past, but girls used lighter, wooden hoops which they propelled along with wooden sticks. A metal hoop was deemed to be a boy’s toy and that was actually propelled with what got called a handle which, like the hoop was made of iron. Both kinds of hoop were very popular in Victorian times and their popularity continued well into the twentieth century. Perhaps they went out of fashion when roads ceased to be safe places for games. In this case, not only the kids playing might be at risk from traffic, but traffic could be at risk from a runaway hoop. Our hoop is some 57cm in diameter and weighs in at close on a kilogram. Yes, that could do some damage.

Interestingly, smaller metal trundling hoops are still for sale, particularly in China. From these we can get an idea of what the handle looked like. We might even find someone to make us one so the hoop can be used.

Thanks again to Dave for producing this memory of childhood past.

A little vice

June 30, 2013

No doubt we all have little vices. We certainly have one at Market Lavington Museum. And here it is.

A small bench vice which can be seen at Market Lavington Museum

A small bench vice which can be seen at Market Lavington Museum

Sadly we know little about it. The vice is about 4 inches from top to bottom Vices of this size are often thought of as being for jewellers or watch makers. Ours belonged to Mr and Mrs Shore who lived in Market Lavington Market Place. Perhaps they just had it for any task that needed a reasonably firm grip on something. It was given to the museum in 1989 when Flo Shore left the old home.

As an aside from the vice, Flo had been born in 1908 in a little cottage just off the churchyard. That is now our museum building.

We know little about the vice. We cannot tell you an age or a manufacturer. It may well have been blacksmith made and therefore quite probably within the local area. Perhaps a tools expert out there in blog land could tell us more.

The vice has clear faults. The handle for tightening the bench clamp is missing and a piece has been broken off that rear table (and what was that for?).

Any information on this would be gratefully received.

A Burial and a Key

March 12, 2013

This could almost class as archaeology. Those who have watched the TV programme Time Team will know the form. You open a trench and see what you find. Of course on Time Team a lot of preliminary work has been done and mostly they know what to expect. We are not sure what James Winchcombe, undertaker, expected when he was digging a grave in 2002 at St Mary’s, Market Lavington. This was in what gets called the old part of the graveyard and it was being re-used, so there presumably was a chance of finds.

Nothing ghoulish was found. In fact what appeared was a key – a pleasing, quite large key believed to be for a lockable chest and dating from the 19th century. After 100 plus years in the ground it was rusty.

19th century key found whilst grave digging in Market Lavington church yard

19th century key found whilst grave digging in Market Lavington church yard

If you happen to know anyone who might have lost this key – then tell them, ‘hard luck’. It is part of the Market Lavington Museum collection.

Incidentally, the person the grave was being prepared for, in 2002 was Mrs Margaret Marston, known as Betty. Margaret had been born as Margaret Beatrice Burt in 1922.

A Copper Kettle

February 2, 2013

This is being written as I drink a mug of coffee, with water boiled in a very cheap, largely plastic kettle which, of course, plugs straight into the electricity supply and boils water very rapidly.

Now go back 100 years, to a time before mains electricity arrived in the Lavingtons and there was no cheap plastic. Your kettle had to be made to withstand the heat of a fire. Essentially, it had to be metal.

Most metals were not all that easy to beat or bend into shape and then make joints which had to be waterproof and heatproof. The ideal metal was copper.

Our curator tells us that in the 1970s he and his wife tried to make a copper kettle. They attempted to beat a sheet of copper into a hemisphere to make the top of the device. He believes they still have the resultant attractive copper dish somewhere. In those harum-scarum 1970s days they never found the time to complete the project and, in any case, they had an electric kettle to use.

Back in the 1900s, the options were more limited and a Market Lavington copper smith completed a kettle of simple, attractive appearance.


Copper kettle at Market Lavington Museum

This kettle has been made in several pieces. It has a sturdy base. The side is made of a single sheet of copper bent round.

The top is another single sheet, beaten into shape. There is a handle (made of steel with a wood grip) and a spout. It should have a wood knob on the lid but that is missing.

The kettle was clearly designed to stand on a kitchen range, which is just what it does at Market Lavington Museum.

The method of jointing is interesting. We guess it was a brazing method, but we can see how surfaces were overlapped to ensure good contact and closure.


The seam joining the ends of the kettle wall together

That’s the seam in the kettle side wall. Clearly it has been riveted as well, probably before brazing took place.

The kettle was given to the museum by a White Street (Market Lavington) resident.

A Tin Bath

November 15, 2012

Today we feature one of those items which will get older viewers saying, ‘I used to use one of them!’  It’s a small tin bath or, more correctly, a galvanized steel bath.

This one is small – more baby bath size and, in fact, the family who used it soon found it too small for that and it became an alternative sink for clothes washing.

Tin bath used by the Gale family of The Spring, Market Lavington

This item dates from around 1910 although similar items would have been made much more recently. Indeed, they may still be in production. Our bath is a small one at just 55cm  which includes the handles. Many families had a range of different baths for varied purposes.

There is an odd looking loop on the bath. It’s an added soap tray.

This bath dates from about 1910 and has a clip on soap tray

Let’s look at the soap.

Microl Soap was a CWS own brand. All these items are in the kitchen at Market Lavington Museum

Microl soap was a Co-op own-brand similar in style to Lifebuoy soap. We don’t have a date for it.

The whole set up was used by the Gale family of The Spring in Market Lavington. You can see it and many other washday artefacts in the kitchen at Market Lavington Museum.

Dr William Hay Ashford Brown’s brass plaque

November 11, 2012

The doctor, mentioned in the title was the Market Lavington medical practitioner from the early 1950s. For ten years he lived in the village, at Greystone House in the High Street which had long been a doctor’s house. In 1961 he and his family moved house, but for a while, continued to use the surgery at Greystone House. Later he had other premises, but the plaque we have comes from Greystone House.

Plaque from the Market Lavington surgery of Dr Ashford Brown

The plaque is made of brass, about 12cm by 8 and just carries the doctor’s name.

It is nothing remarkable but serves as a reminder of days when a room in a house (or even a caravan) was a doctor’s surgery. Nowadays, Market Lavington has a large, dedicated surgery building. There are four partners – doctors who run the surgeries, two practice nurses and a health care assistant, a practice manager and, no doubt, other admin and clerical staff.

Dr Ashford Brown, who retired in the mid 70s and died in 1998, would be amazed to see such services.