Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

A Political Badge from the Old Rec

November 2, 2015

We have seen a Primrose League badge on this blog and that, like the badge below, was a symbol for a political group. This one is for the Junior Imperial & Constitutional League. It was found by metal detectorist Norman.

Almost inevitably, wearers of this badge were known as Junior Imps!

Almost inevitably, wearers of this badge were known as Junior Imps!

Most of the enamel infill has been lost in its passage of time in the ground of the old recreation ground which is behind Shires Close. But we can recognise a cross of St George and a union flag as well as the lion and the words.

The organisation was founded in 1906. In 1945 it became the Young Conservatives. This badge is clearly from the first half of the 20th century.

We do know that political rallies were held on the old rec. Maybe this was lost at one of them.


The Primrose League

July 7, 2015

The Primrose League was a political association attached to one political party – the Conservatives. This item is about a metal detector find. Writing about it does not mean that we support the aims of any single party. We try to deal in historical fact as far as possible.

The primrose was well known to be Benjamin Disraeli’s favourite flower. Disraeli was twice Prime Minister between 1868 and 1880. Queen Victoria was particularly fond of Disraeli and sent a wreath of primroses (picked at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight) to his funeral.

The Primrose League was established with the aim of spreading the Conservative message in Great Britain. It was founded in 1883, a couple of years after Disraeli’s death. It was active until the 1990s and was finally wound up in 2004.

Not surprisingly, the primrose was used as a badge for members of the league and one such badge was found by metal detectorist Norman on the old recreation ground in Market Lavington.

Primrose League badge - probably of pre 1920 type - found on the old recreation ground in Market Lavington

Primrose League badge – probably of pre 1920 type – found on the old recreation ground in Market Lavington

This button hole badge has a stylised primrose in yellow enamel (quite a bit is missing) and a monogram of the letters P and L set in it.

The button hole clip is embossed Primrose League Official Badge

The button hole clip is embossed Primrose League Official Badge

The back of the button hole fastening is embossed with the words ‘PRIMROSE LEAGUE OFFICIAL BADGE’.

This badge is 21 millimetres across which we think makes it date from before 1920.

Just possibly this was lost at a Conservative Demonstration we have shown on this blog. Click here to see that post.

When Politics Mattered

February 16, 2014

Of course, the title is not meant to suggest that politics doesn’t matter these days, although many people clearly think that our political leaders are something of an irrelevance. Maybe it was the events of 100 years ago which started the downward spiral. The First World War, some say, was an argument amongst three cousins who led different countries and that they were unconcerned about the mass slaughter. Whatever the cause was, I doubt you’d see, these days, a political gathering like this one.

Conservative demonstration at Market Lavington - early 20th century

Conservative demonstration at Market Lavington – early 20th century

This early postcard is clearly labelled Conservative Party Demonstration, Market Lavington and appears to have a date of July 2 1901.


Or is that a poorly written ‘nd’ and it just says July 2nd? We are confident it was definitely early in the 20th century.

The word ‘demonstration’ these days tends to have negative connotations. We demonstrate against things. We’d suspect that this demonstration was in support of the Conservative Party.

When it came to an election, what looks like a majority of people in the throng would not have been enfranchised. Children, of course, did not have the vote and neither, then, did women. But in these pre mass entertainment days people would go to hear a speaker and we think there was one of them. He’s not holding the attention of children who seem to have spotted the photographer, but most adults appear to be intent on something off to the right.

There are background items which are of interest. One is a motor vehicle.

A motor vehicle - perhaps a first for Market Lavington

A motor vehicle – perhaps a first for Market Lavington

If this really was 1901 that could have been the first car seen in the area.

No doubt the beer tent did a roaring trade.

The beer was supplied by Simonds of Reading

The beer was supplied by Simonds of Reading

Simonds ales and stouts are mentioned. They were a long established brewery in Reading. Maybe they had used traction engine and huge wheeled trailer on the left of the tent.


Traction engine and trailer – Market Lavington folk would have been used to such vehicles.

We can’t name any of the people.

A small portion of the crowd

A small portion of the crowd


Back in that Edwardian era, Devizes (including Lavington) was a marginal constituency.  In 1895 Edward Goulding held the seat for the Unionists (Conservative) but he lost out in 1906 to the Liberal, Francis Rogers. The seat returned to the Unionists in 1910 when Basil Peto became the local MP.

For political neutrality, we’ll mention that other parties, representing all shades of opinion put forward candidates at elections – and, praise be, we are free to vote for whoever we like amongst those standing.

William Saunders – political firebrand

April 19, 2013

There can be little doubt that the Saunders family from Russell Mill were amongst the most influential of people. This was not only in the Lavington area, but also around Britain and, indeed, the world.

Father Amram was a highly respected miller and leader of people. It was Amram that organised people to buy out the tollgates and get them removed. Today we are looking at one of his sons – William.

William was born on 20th November 1823 and he was to be the youngest son of Amram and Mary Saunders. Their home was Russell Mill which was in the parish of Market Lavington. It got passed to West Lavington in the 1950s.

We know little of his early life except that he attended a school in Devizes.

Our photo of William comes from the book ‘Elizabeth of Lavington’ which is about his younger sister and was written by her granddaughter.

William Saunders, born Market Lavington in 1823

William Saunders, born Market Lavington in 1823

William’s older brother seemed destined to take over the milling business so William looked elsewhere for his fortune. In 1844 he opened quarries near Box Tunnel.


A first business venture for William Saunders

In 1851 William was living with his married sister, Mary, in Kensington in London. William was described as a stone merchant.

In 1852 William married Caroline Spender of Bath. Later, he set up the Plymouth Western Morning News within the help of his father in law. In 1861 William and Caroline lived in Plymouth and William was now a newspaper proprietor.

In 1863 William founded Central News – the first ever news distributing agency and in 1864 he started the Hull based Eastern Morning News which came to be regarded as his real journalistic success. Perhaps William thought more of Central news for on the 1871 census, with William on Finchley Road in London, It is the news agency which he gives as his employment.

In 1881, William was in Streatham with Caroline and was listed as a newspaper Proprietor.

A new strand to his career took place in 1885 when he was elected liberal MP for Hull East. He lost his seat the following year when the liberals fell from power. William’s radical views, particularly his belief in land nationalisation, may not have helped him.

In 1889 William was elected to the first London County Council – for Walworth. The same area elected him as their MP in 1892.

At Market Lavington Museum we have a calling card holder which dates from this era.

Calling card holder for William Saunders

Calling card holder for William Saunders

William died in 1895 – in Market Lavington He was buried on 4th May in the churchyard at Market Lavington.

In 1983 his first paper, The Western Morning news published this story.

William's story by his first paper - The Western Morning News

William’s story by his first paper – The Western Morning News

A political campaign

November 4, 2011

Back in the early years of the twentieth century, a burning political topic for many was the thorny question of whether there should be free trade between nations or whether the government should impose tariffs on imported goods to protect home industries and businesses. These matters came to a head at the 1906 election. The issue was portrayed as a large free trade liberal loaf of bread or a smaller, conservative, import tariff loaf.

The liberals won a landslide!

Many felt that free trade did not work when it came to protecting British jobs, particularly on farms and in the countryside. A pro tariff reform organisation produced a handbill for distribution in about 1908. This emphasised the amount of meat and other agricultural produce being imported into the country on one side and the effect on the rural economy on the other side.

Value of imports of agricultural produce shown on a tariff reform hand bill of about 1908 and now at Market Lavington Museum

The other side of the handbill shows rural poverty as a result of free trade

The words allegedly spoken by the village blacksmith

Slogans are so catchy, but it seems hardly credible to imagine that horses were being sent abroad for shoeing, or that the local farmer went anywhere but his local blacksmith when equipment needed repair. But farmers did struggle to keep going at times, so no doubt there was less work for the blacksmith.

In Market Lavington, the Merrit family expanded into the cycle and then the motor-car business.

By the time of the elections of 1910, the burning issue was ‘home rule for Ireland’ so leaflets such as this one probably made little impact.

Walking with Winston

July 8, 2010

In 1927 Winston Churchill was Chancellor of the Exchequer and he faced a situation which might be deemed similar to the one we face today. In fact, it was probably worse for the previous year there had been the long miners’ strike and the short lived general strike.

Churchill, from many accounts, was not a popular Chancellor, but maybe Alfie Alexander of Market Lavington thought he was OK for Market Lavington Museum has a picture of Archie walking alongside Winston as he made his way to deliver his budget speech on April 11th 1927.

Winston Churchill with his daughter, Diana, on his way to deliver the 1927 budget speech. On the right are members of the Alexander family from Market Lavington

Alfie is on the right with his young relative in the school cap. We think the lady behind the lad is an Alexander relative as well.

In fact, Winston was really walking with his daughter, Diana and despite the grin on his face he was on his way to deliver a series of severe cuts and tax increases.

Alfie Alexander had taken his relative to hear the speech. Alfie was a farmer in Market Lavington, operating at Southcliffe in the Fiddington area although he lived on Church Street.

Alfie was born around 1864 in Urchfont. He married Sarah Norman during the third quarter of 1886.

In 1891 Alfred and Sarah along with three year old Norman and four month old Daisy lived on Fiddington Lane in Market Lavington. Sarah, aged 33 came from Ramsey in Essex. The children had been born in Market Lavington. Alfred was a market gardener and dealer.

In 1901 The Alexander family still lived at Fiddington Lane. Thirty nine year old Alfred was a farmer and employer born in Erchfont (now Urchfont). The three children at home were all Market Lavington born. Norman was 13, Daisy was 10 and Deering was aged 3.

In 1911 the family were still in Lavington. Gladys was born in 1902. She was the youngest of the four children. Alfred was a farmer.

The Alexander family continued to be involved with farming in the Lavington area until the 1970s.