Posts Tagged ‘Museum’

The Museum Miscellany – 2016

September 1, 2016

This year we are holding our annual show, The Museum Miscellany, on Saturday October 8th at 7.30pm in Market Lavington Community Hall. Tickets have still been held at a fiver each.

This year’s show will have a section on schools – mostly the Market Lavington Old School which has been the subject of debate this year and a section on what was always called ‘Hospital Week’. Lest this sounds a bit miserable, it was actually a high spot of the year in Market Lavington and Easterton – a carnival week with money raised going to support health care in those pre-NHS days.

Individuals and firms got involved and here we have a carnival entry from the Easterton Jam factory.


There will be a section on ‘Days Out’. Perhaps a surprise here is that some people from elsewhere took days out in Market Lavington but of course, local people, when they could afford it, had days out elsewhere.

Another section will feature steam power. William Cambridge had a foundry in Market Lavington and he was making steam engines here at much the same time that George Stevenson was building his famous loco, Rocket. This is a William Cambridge engine.


But steam power was also used here for all sorts of purposes – including, for overlap, days out.

Other sections will show the villages and the village people we knew and loved.

And best of all, we plan to have our Museum Food available during the interval which can be washed down with a beverage from the bar.

Don’t miss out. Tickets will be available at the Post Office in Market Lavington.



Making a Museum

March 28, 2015

Today’s blog is unashamedly about your museum which is now thirty years old. The museum is housed in the old school master’s cottage which was, handily, built just behind the school. Access is from the churchyard with no actual road access at all but museum visitors can park in the Community Hall carpark and have smooth access up the tarmac path to the church and then along the gravel path behind the church.

The cottage had been a family home until the 1950s and then in the 1960s the school took it over as additional accommodation. In the 1970s it was out of use and became derelict. Hard work and dedication were needed to make it suitable for a museum.

One thing that was needed was a new staircase and here we see the new staircase in the course of construction.

Thje main section of staircase is 'offered up to the job'.

The main section of staircase is ‘offered up to the job’.

That looks more complete

That looks more complete

Yes, it reaches the upstairs area

Yes, it reaches the upstairs area

When all building work was completed, the museum was ready to open and here’s an early view of the staircase area.

Staircase complete and museum open

Staircase complete and museum open

Thirty years on and some of the signs fixed to the wall above the stairs have just been moved for we have added a second bannister rail on the wall side. And for good or ill, our museum is now much more crowded with artefacts. It would be lovely to have more spacious displays. We have the problem faced by many a museum of whether to display and make things a bit cramped or store things for researchers to see on request. We try to display your items – all are given by you to the museum – as much as possible.

We, of course, think we have a great museum, full of interest for both local folk and those from further afield. Do pay us a visit in our thirtieth season.

The Grove in 1972

March 27, 2015


Yesterday we looked at a water colour of the grove in 1986. Today we have the opposite view in a black and white photo from 1972.

The church across the Grove in 1972

The church across the Grove in 1972

The photographer may have selected a rather grey day for this photo which shows a view across the fields of Grove Farm to the church. The Grove Farm buildings are to the right of the church and beyond them we see more of the village and the scarp slope of Salisbury Plain.

To the left of the church we can make out what is now our museum – your museum in fact for it is the Market Lavington Museum.

Museum and Old House

Museum and Old House

That’s our museum building just to the left of the pole. Further left and apparently sheltering under branches of the cedar tree we have The Old House.

The photo, of course, was taken long before houses were built on the former fields of Grove Farm. It’s a very different view today with mixed modern houses providing needed homes for many people.

A horn beaker

March 13, 2014

The old phrase used to be ‘waste not, want not’. This implied that if you wasted nothing then you’d want for nothing. Certainly, in times past, very little was wasted.

Whether people were sentimental about animals they kept, we have no idea. But when the time came to dispatch the animal then every part of it was likely to find a use, whether it was food, clothing, or something else altogether.

Today we look at that last category – something else altogether. It’s a drinking vessel made out of cow horn.

An 18th century horn beaker at Market Lavington Museum

An 18th century horn beaker at Market Lavington Museum

This dates from the 18th century. A good bit of horn was identified as suitable for a beaker. It was cut, smoothed and then a base was fitted. And what an elegant item it made.

Now these days there will be plenty of people who object to the use of animal products. Our forebears just couldn’t afford to have such qualms. Trading in goods has gone on for centuries, but even so, by and large, people used locally produced products. Cow horn was widely used in rural areas to make drinking beakers.

The maker, or perhaps an owner, has scratched his initial on the base.

Initial 'H' scratched on the beaker's base

Initial ‘H’ scratched on the beaker’s base

Of course, we have no idea who ‘H’ was, but clearly his beaker meant something to him or her.

The beaker is on display in the kitchen at the museum.

The Kings Arms

March 5, 2014


Until a few years ago Market Lavington had three pubs. The Kings Arms on High Street, opposite the newsagents closed some five years ago and the area is now used as a number of houses, some in the pub itself and others in what was the pub yard.

Today we are looking at a photo which dates from a time when the village had at least five pubs – the early years of the twentieth century. It shows the Kings Arms pub along High Street.

The Kings Arms, Market Lavington - an early 20th century photo

The Kings Arms, Market Lavington – an early 20th century photo

The most obvious part of the picture is the pub sign.

The landlord was Fred Simpson

The landlord was Fred Simpson

That’s handsomely written in raised writing and it carries the name of Fred Simpson. We assume he was the landlord but sadly the name crops up nowhere else in our annals. We have no other record of the man at the museum and he doesn’t appear on censuses.

So, the inevitable question – is there anyone out there who can tell us more about Fred Simpson?

Next to the former pub is the cottage many of us refer to as Kyte’s Cottage – and even that is having a new dwelling built in the back garden at the moment. In this photo it has a sign on it which we can just make out.


Mr Whitchurch’s name was on the shop next to the Kings Arms

Part of the name is hard to read, but we know that the man who had this shop was Mr Whitchurch but he was a druggist. However, in 1911 his married daughter was a newsagent and confectioner and his widow still lived in the house. Mr Whitchurch had died in 1906.

We think the photo dates from before 1911 but again, we’d appreciate any further ideas from our readers.


March 4, 2014

Today’s bit of local history is also museum history. Back in 1992 the county conservation service was able to fumigate many of our artefacts that might have been at risk from ‘critters’. A team of people came and packed away the items for transportation to the headquarters of the museum service which was then in Trowbridge.

1992 at Market Lavington Museum - items prepared for fumigation

1992 at Market Lavington Museum – items prepared for fumigation

When the goods were all loaded in the van, refreshments were taken.

Refreshments all round for the workers

Refreshments all round for the workers

There’s the team, just outside the museum door, and in the middle we see our founder and long-time curator, Peggy Gye. She is handing round the biscuits.

Peggy Gye - still much missed for her wit and wisdom

Peggy Gye – still much missed for her wit and wisdom

Yes, that’s Peggy, smiling and happy at her museum. It is hard to remember that 1992 was 22 years ago. Back then, Peggy was a sprightly 70 year old.

A Boitle

March 3, 2014

If anyone wonders if we have mis-typed the title of this blog then no, we haven’t. This post is about an item which locals call a boitle.  Just as a matter of interest, we have also heard them called bittles by people who come from Rowde, just the other side of Devizes. If you want to find them in a dictionary then you’ll have to use the accepted spelling and name of beetle. In the dictionary, amongst the meanings of beetle we find that it is a large mallet with a wooden head. That is what we are looking at today.

Our ‘boitle’ belonged to the Smith family. The Smiths were famed pond diggers who were able to make the permeable chalk downs waterproof so that ponds could be constructed, suitable for animals to drink from. The wealth of the chalk depended on sheep and, without the so called dewpond, the sheep could not have survived.

In fact we have only the head of the Smith boitle.

Late 19th century boitle (beetle) used by the Smith family of Market Lavington when making ponds.

Late 19th century boitle (beetle) used by the Smith family of Market Lavington when making ponds.

This mallet head is some 30 cm long and is made of wood. It has iron banding for added strength and an iron plate over the business end. We can see what is left of the handle. Sorry! We don’t know how it was fitted.

Ben Hayward of Easterton wrote about pond making (according to Ned) in 1829.

Extract from Ben Hayward's 1829 note book

Extract from Ben Hayward’s 1829 note book

We only have Ben’s book in digital format, but this piece of writing, transcribed, appears as part of our pond digging display.


So, the boitle was used to beat the material used down to make a waterproof layer. Ned would not have used the boitle we have for we believe it dates from towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Over the fields in 1972

March 2, 2014

Today we look at a scene which as changed out of recognition in the 42 years since this photo was taken.

View near Grove Farm, Market Lavington in 1972

View near Grove Farm, Market Lavington in 1972

The caption we have on this photo is ‘Grove Farm – 1972’. We are looking away from the Grove Farm area and over more northern parts of the village of Market Lavington.

Let’s start up on the skyline.


Here we are looking at the houses on Northbrook Close with St Barnabas School on the right.

Below, in the valley we have this collection of buildings.


The new bungalows are on Bouverie Drive. The thatched property near the top right is ‘The Rest’ on Northbrook. Between Bouverie Drive and ‘The Rest’ we can see the steeply pitching roof of Tommy Burden’s Cottage – the little Tudor cottage that is no longer with us.


A car can be seen in this part of the photo. That is parked more or less where the roundabout is now – the one where Grove Road and Canada Rise meet at the bottom of Spin Hill.


It is this area which has changed most for this area is now occupied by Roman Way and Saxon Close.

Look Back at Lavington

March 1, 2014

In 1973 there was no permanent museum in Market Lavington. But that was no hardship to doughty Peggy Gye. The old village school had closed and was replaced by new, big, St Barnabas School up on the sands. It made the Old School the ideal spot for an exhibition which Peggy called, ‘Look back at Lavington’.

The ammount of work Peggy must have done to mount this exhibition almost beggars belief. Transporting all her artefacts – presumably stored somewhere at her Beech House home was just a start. Labels needed producing, photographs needed mounting and then the whole lot needed to be attractively displayed. It was a mammoth undertaking.

Look back at Lavington exhibition in the Old School in 1973

Look back at Lavington exhibition in the Old School in 1973

This is a general view of one room – it gives an idea of how much Peggy managed to achieve.

And here is one corner in more detail.

This could be called the Gye's Yard corner

This could be called the Gye’s Yard corner

There are items here that have made it to the permanent museum and also some which have not. But once again we can admire the drive and work done by Peggy to get this exhibition mounted.

A dozen years later, we got our permanent museum and life became much easier.

Copying photos

February 26, 2014

In times gone by, original photos were put on display at the museum with the inevitable results in terms of fading.

Technology has made copying and printing much easier in recent years and these days we display copies, often much enlarged when compared with the originals. We might crop out large areas of sky or plain foreground. Any other alterations are recorded and reported to viewers.

Recently, the process of copying photos has taken almost a conveyer belt speed. Museum friend Roger, a fairly new resident in Market Lavington, came forward to offer his time and the services of a high speed copier. Here’s Roger in action.

Roger at work with the high-speed photograph copier

Roger at work with the high-speed photograph copier

The kit consists of a truly hefty laptop computer and the copier, the device in the middle. Photos can be stacked in the upper tray and the machine takes them in one by one and churns them out. It takes about 2 seconds to do both sides of the photo – and yes, the backs are important to us for the museum code numbers and, in some cases, other information.

The nearer computer is only used for checking all is well.

The slowest part of the process is taking original photos out of storage and then returning them afterwards. In a two hour session, Rog and our curator can get both sides of more than 300 photos digitised and stored electronically. Scanning is done at 600 dots per inch, a minimum museum standard.

Please note that the table we work on is used as a dual surface. It has displays and regular readers might recognise the J Sheppard paper bag and photos of Jim Sheppard, the Easterton baker. But these items are protected under a Perspex sheet so the large table can still be used for research or other purposes.

So far, more than 1000 of our photographs have been digitised and stored. It’s a truly wonderful device with a truly wonderful operator. We extend huge thanks to Roger.