Posts Tagged ‘metal’

Enamel jugs

October 19, 2012

Enamel ware has always been popular. The glazed surface is hard wearing and easy to keep clean.

Here we have two enamel jugs that were sold in the village by the Phillips family who had a shop on High Street in Market Lavington.

Pair of bright enamel jugs purchased by James Welch from the Phillips’s ironmongery store on High Street, Market Lavingtom

The purchaser was Mr Welch, who decided these bright and cheerful jugs were just the thing back in the 1920s.

The Phillips’s had the shop more or less opposite the Co-op and next to what is now Woodland Yard. They took it over after the death of John Baker in 1903. John had been a tin smith as well as running an ironmongery store. The Phillips family continued the business in much the same way. We can read a little of the business and how it passed through the family by clicking here.

Before John Baker had these premises, the Matthews family were there. They were more in the line of blacksmiths.. Similar styles of business were carried on in that shop for 150 years or more.

But back to our enamel jugs. We know almost nothing about them. They carry no marks, other than those of wear and tear over 90 years. They were, no doubt, regarded as cheap and very ordinary.

The Bells, The Bells

October 14, 2012

At Market Lavington Museum we have recently been given some sheep bells. These bells were given by the daughter of a local farmer.

The bells had been converted into a household ornament by being mounted on a wrought iron frame. They have also been provided with a striker.

Mounted sheep bells, recently given to Market Lavington Museum

For those interested the four bells play roughly the first four notes of a minor scale. Sorry, we haven’t bothered about what key they are in.

We have been told that these bells were Ministry of Defence (or its predecessor) issue to sheep farmers on Salisbury Plain. We have not been able to verify this idea – the Ministry have no records of sheep bells.

However some of the bells do carry an arrow-head mark.

The broad arrow mark on one of the bells

This arrow-head mark can be found on other items of MOD issue. This version was recently spotted by a museum friend at Cotehele./ It was on a ship mooring bollard on the Cornish bank of the River Tamar.

You won’t find this one at Market Lavington Museum. It’s on a mooring bollard at Cotehele Quay in Cornwall.

This extract on the broad arrow symbol is from Wikipedia.

The Office of Ordnance was created by Henry VIII in 1544. It became the Board of Ordnance in 1597, its principal duties being to supply guns, ammunition, stores and equipment to the King’s Navy. The Office and Board used the broad arrow to signify at first objects purchased from the monarch’s money and later to indicate government property since at least the 17th century. The introduction of this symbol is attributed to Henry Sydney, 1st Earl of Romney, who served as Master-General of the Ordnance from 1693 to 1702, since the pheon appears in the arms of the Sidney family.

The broad arrow frequently appeared on military boxes and equipment such as canteens, bayonets and rifles, as well as the British prison uniform from the 1870s, and even earlier, that of transportees in British penal colonies such as Australia. The broad arrow marks were also used by Commonwealth countries on their ordnance. With the demise of the Board in 1855, the War Department and today’s Ministry of Defence continued to use the mark. The arrow also appears in the Ordnance Survey logo. Similarly to hallmarks, it is currently a criminal offence in the United Kingdom to reproduce the broad arrow without authority. Section 4 of the Public Stores Act 1875 makes it illegal to use the “broad arrow” on any goods without permission.

The bells are an absolute delight. We’d love to know more about them = when made, by whom and where. Can you help?

A Card Counter

October 3, 2012

Card counters, also known as jetons have a long history. Two thousand years ago the Romans used stones to help with arithmetic. The stones were made of limestone and in Latin they were known as calculi. Our word, calculate’ comes from that old Latin word. You can read much more at

By the Victorian era the items, looking like small coins, may have been used to help calculate or they may have been gambling tokens. It had certainly become the norm to make these tokens have a political message or to commemorate a person deemed great in the political world.

At Market Lavington Museum we have a token which commemorates Arthur, Duke of Wellington.

The head of Arthur, Duke of Wellington on a card counter at Market Lavington Museum

On the front or obverse we have a portrait and the name of the Duke. This item is probably in base metal and is about 2 centimetres across.

The Dukes dates are on the reverse of this Jeton – May 1st 1760 to September 14th 1852

The reverse tells us the dates of birth and death of the Duke. We imagine the token was minted soon after Wellington’s death in 1852.

If anyone has more information about items like this, we’d be pleased to hear from them.

Trimming the wick

July 20, 2012

Those of us brought up in the world of instant electricity would have found it hard to cope when lighting was provided by the flame of oil lamp or candle.

The candle, being portable was used to light the way to bed. But early candles had wicks which did not burn. As the candle wax burned down a long length of wick was left, gently smoking away to fill a room with fumes.

It’s time for the wick trimmer.

19th century candle wick trimmer at Market Lavington Museum

These devices – rather like scissors with a box, trimmed the wick and caught the still hot end of wick in the box. It was vital that a glowing ember didn’t join other debris, possibly under the floorboards. A fire could have started.

Our cast iron wick trimmer is believed to date from the early nineteenth century.

Bull Tongs

July 6, 2012

An interesting, although rather alarming fact (as found on Wikipedia) is that 42% of all farmworker deaths caused by livestock are actually caused by bulls. No wonder methods of handling these animals of uncertain temperament were needed. It was found that ‘a ring in the end of his nose’ was ideal. A rope or pole could be attached to the ring and the animal could be easily controlled. Bull tongs could be used when there was no ring – maybe in a young animal or, perhaps, in any cow who was liable to cause damage to herself or her handler.

Today we look at bull tongs, sometimes known as a bull lead, which was used at Vicarage Farm in Easterton by the Merritt family who lived there. This bull lead is unusual in having a handle, making it look rather like a pair of handcuffs.

Unusual bull tongs used at Vicarage Farm, easterton and now at Market Lavington Museum

The open end could be inserted into the nostrils of the bull and then the slide moved up so that the two bobbles pressed into the soft tissue between those nostrils. Sad to say, if the bovine animal tried to pull, it hurt and that, basically, kept it under control.

That’s another welcome and unusual addition to our collection of farming equipment.

Henry Colingborn – Easterton – 1838

July 5, 2012

Market Lavington Museum was recently given a small brass plaque. We’d like to know more about it.

Heart shaped plaque, probably brass, recently given to Market Lavington Museum

As can be seen, the plaque is heart shaped. It measures about 9cm tall and 7 wide. It is engraved


The back of the plaque shows five marks where it was joined to something else.

The back of the plaque

But what was that something else. Suggestions for the plaque include:

  • name tag on horse harness’
  • the lid of some kind of lockable box, perhaps given by a loved one.
  • a coffin plate – perhaps for a child.

We’d like to know more about Henry as well, but we’ll start by suggesting that his surname was normally Collingborn, with two ls.

We know a John Collingborn was an elector in 1836 by virtue of land he owned at Easterton which he occupied himself.

What a shame there is no surviving 1841 census. That might have provided vital clues.

In 1851 there was a Henry Collingborn in Easterton. He had been born in Urchfont in about 1815 and was married to Easterton born wife, Ann Two daughters, Eliza aged 9 and Mary aged 7 had been born in Easterton. This could be the right Henry but he was a labourer and perhaps not in the habit of having plaques of this kind.

If anybody can help us with any information here, whether about the likely use of the plaque or about Henry, then do get in touch.

James Neate Money

June 30, 2012

In times past many business owners issued their own coinage. This was money that could only be spent on goods and services offered by the business. It could ensure that money given out by the business came back to the business.

James Neate – we have met him before on these pages – was a wine and spirit merchant and brewer. He issued coinage. The examples we have at Market Lavington probably date from the Edwardian era – the first ten years of the twentieth century.

Tuppenny token for use at the busines of James Neate of Market Lavington

From the style of these tokens, it looks as though James bought in ‘coins’ which had a blank reverse side. He then stamped his name on that reverse. These tokens were made by the Vaughnton company in Birmingham.

The blank, reverse of the coin has J NEATE stamped into it

We might argue against the ethics of having coinage for specific purposes but of course, it was the norm in times past.

A half penny

February 10, 2012

Today we feature another of the coins found by the Yeovil Metal Detecting Club back in September. This one, literally, is a half penny.

Silver half penny found on the slopes of Lavington Hill and now in Market Lavington Museum

The coin is made of silver and has markings on both sides to allow the experts to have a stab at identifying its origins.

The other side of the Lavington Hill half penny

The best guess is that this little piece of silver dates from between 1249 and 1286. The surprising thing is that this is a Scottish King from the time when Alexander III ruled in that land.

We wonder how it came to be in the south of England – in Market Lavington but there, we assume, it lay hidden for more than 750 years before being found by modern technology. It now has a home in Market Lavington Museum.

Once again we’d like to thank the detectorists of the Yeovil Club for donating this and other artefacts to us.

Under the Floorboards

February 4, 2012

The title for this blog entry comes from a favourite website at This site is about items found under floorboards as the owner restored a cottage. There is an associated ‘Under the Garden’ page. Do look at them, and then start searching in Market Lavington and Easterton, remembering to let us record your finds.

Our item was actually found under the floorboards of St Mary’s Church in Market Lavington, way back in 1860. It is a spoon.

Tea spoon found under the floorboards of St Mary's Church, Market Lavington in about 1860

Analysis suggests the spoon is made of pewter. The mark on the back is clear.

Markings on the spoon

Maybe somebody out there can explain their meaning.

The church underwent restoration in the 1860s and this is when the teaspoon was found. It seems the spoon made its way to a branch of the Sainsbury family, who later moved to Calne. It was given to our museum in 1993 by a descendant of the Sainsbury family.

Of course, we have no idea how it came to be under the church floorboards in the first place.

The Baker family in 1886

May 17, 2011

Baker is a common surname in Market Lavington. Being a baker was quite a common occupation and, no doubt, that’s where the surname comes from.

The Baker family we are looking at lived at what was once the hardware shop on High Street – next to Woodland Yard and almost opposite the Co-op.

John Baker and family in 1886 - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

This photo dates from 1886. On the right is father – John Baker. He was Market Lavington born and bred and was aged about 42 when this photo was taken. Apart from his occupation as a tin smith, he also sold items of metal ware, was an avid member of the volunteer rifles and won many awards for this. He also helped manage various parish matters such as the fire brigade.

At the left hand end is john’s wife, Louisa. She was some years younger than John – about 30 and she was born in West Lavington. All of the children were Market Lavington born.

On Louisa’s knee is baby John Baker, known later as Jack. The four older children were all girls. Next to her mother is Margaret Baker. The oldest girl, in the middle, is Annie. Hilda stands next to her father and Mabel is with her father.

Still to be born, and so not in the photo, were Archibald, Ida and Amy who appear on the 1891 census and the youngest, Mollie who was born mid-way through the 1890s.

Descendants of John and Louisa Baker have been very generous with regard to the museum. We have featured some items connected with this family before on this blog.