Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

The Congregational Ladies in 1913

March 21, 2012

Times change. We still have some organisations for men and women separately, but far fewer than was once the case. This must, in part, be due to the more equal status attached to the two genders. There are now far fewer events and organisations barred to women simply because they are female.

Back before the First World War, the Congregational Church in Market Lavington had a club for women only. It looks as though they may have allowed children, whether boys or girls, and perhaps a photographer – almost certainly male, was permitted in to take an image.

Market Lavington Congregational Church ladies in 1913

Sadly, we have no names for this fine collection of ladies. Amongst families we know were prominent in the Congregational Church were the Pikes and the Hopkins.

Do get in touch if you can tell us any more about the people in this photo.


A Family Bible

February 15, 2012

A Family Bible

At Market Lavington Museum, we have a Bible, which dates back to at least the mid 18th century. In fact we believe it was probably printed in around 1715 so it is all but 300 years old. It is a large book for it also contains the Book of Common Prayer, an Index to The Bible and The Book of Psalms.

The bible has various hand written ‘extras’. At the start of the Book of Common Prayer is this inscription.

Jane Miell Her Book written in a family bible held at Market Lavington Museum

We think this says,

Jane Miell Her Book


A Jane Miall (that surname appears with various spellings including Mihil) was baptised at St Mary’s Market Lavington in 1727. Perhaps this Jane was her, daughter of Abednigo and Elizabeth.. If so it looks as though she was born in 1724 and did a sum to work out how old she was in 1756,

There is also the single name Robert which looks to be in a different hand.

At the front of the book there are three pages of hand-written entries. It seems that by 1778 this bible became the family bible of Robert and Leah Merritt. Most of these entries list the births of children to the couple between 1778 and 1804 but an inoculation is also listed in 1799.

Most of the hand-written entries are about the children of Robert and Leah Merritt, of Market Lavington

Picking on one of the entries we can read that Robart, son of Robart and Lea Merritt was born July the 25th day at two o clock in the afternoon in the year of 1782. Baptism records tell us that Robert was baptised at St Mary’s, Market Lavington on August 18th of 1782.

Earlier this month we opened the museum for a descendant of Robert and Leah to study and record this bible and to touch the pages once handled by her ancestors. It was quite an emotional experience. This visitor had only just discovered she had a connection with Market Lavington but there are still descendants of Robert and Leah who live in the village.

We have not identified any link between Jane Miell and the Merritts but the bible obviously went from her to Robert and Leah.

A Special Bible

January 19, 2012

The Bible is said to be the world’s best selling book. It means bibles are common and something special is needed to make them worthy of inclusion in a museum.

One given to Market Lavington Museum recently does have coloured plates to accompany its King James Bible text.


Daniel in the Lion'a Den - a biblical image

But what makes this bible special for us is the inscription.

Inscription in the bible. Marjorie Oram and her parents, Henry and Matilda were Market Lavington residents.

So, the bible was a gift for Marjorie P Oram from her mum and dad for Christmas 1929.

Marjorie was born in 1910 although anybody seeking her birth record had better type her name as Margery. In 1911 she was the youngest of seven children of Market Lavington born Henry Robert Oram, a bricklayer and his wife Matilda. Matilda had come from Imber.

In 1947, both Marjorie and her father were recorded by a Pathé news reporter who was dealing with a story about very heavy bombing on the ranges causing damage to houses. This 1 minute’ news clip is available on line (in preview quality) at In this amusing film you will see and hear Marjorie, her father Henry and also Charlie Davis standing at the gate of his Northbrook house.

Henry died in 1953 and Marjorie in 1984. Marjorie has children still living in Market Lavington. It got quite emotional when Ted, one of her children saw the clip for the first time ever, recently.

Charlie, too, has relatives still in the village. His nephew is Keith at the newspaper shop.

The Nativity Play

December 25, 2011

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without children performing a nativity play – and I bet most adults will remember the part they once played and that expectation from parents that Mary or Joseph would have been the right role for their child.

For Christmas Day, this year, we are looking at a nativity play performed in St Mary’s Church.  Our records just give a date of the 1950s. We think it was probably very early in that decade. Most of the people shown here will be more than 60 years old by now.

Nativity play at St Mary's, Market Lavington in the early 1950s

The named youngsters are Janet Burt as the Angel Gabriel and Josephine Stevens as Mary. Other youngsters known to be in the play are David Baker, Carol Davis, Tim Gye, Wendy Merritt, Susan Shepherd and Brian and Chris Stevens.

If you fancy a different Christmas Day activity, why not get in touch with us and tell us who else is in the photo. Maybe you have other memories of Christmas in Market Lavington or Easterton which you’d like to share with us.

An Immortelle

November 12, 2011

Immortelles – the name means everlasting – were grave ornaments. They were in use mainly in the Victorian and Edwardian era.

Delicate china flowers are mounted on a base. This is covered with a glass dome to make it weather proof and finally a wire cage houses that.

An Immortelle - a grave ornament - at Market Lavington Museum

We believe the immortelle we have is probably Edwardian. It was in the churchyard until the 1930s.

None remain in the churchyards of Market Lavington or Easterton, but our curator recently found some in a Welsh churchyard.

Immortelles at Eglwys Llanfinhangel

These items do not seem to be well documented. Any extra information would be well received.

Now where did these come from?

October 1, 2011

Last week we surprised to find that a visitor had left a large box of 100 or so magic lantern slides at Market Lavington Museum. We are really keen to find out who left these slides so that we can learn more about them – in particular what relevance they have to our parish.

We guess it was somebody who was at The Miscellany on 17th September where curator, Rog, used the old magic lantern and slides which had belonged to Dr Hitchcock who ran the Fiddington Asylum. Those slides, which date from the 1860s, are very mixed in nature. The ones left at the museum have a Christian religious flavour.

Stoning a fallen woman – a slide left at Market Lavington Museum

Apart from wanting to know where these slides came from, we are keen to discover their age. They will be 80 years old at least for some packing material in the box was a Church of England Newspaper for 1933. They could be from around the start of the twentieth century.

Always important at religious meetings

Some of the slides are in boxes and they may give more of a clue to the age of the slides.

Slide collection box lid

Box lid from ‘Life of Christ’ series

We hope that the Magic Lantern Society will be able to help us with the age and maybe the manufacturer of the slides.

But most of all we hope the donor will get in touch with the curator. You can click here to start an email to Rog.

Carpentry at the old chapel

July 24, 2011

This is part of the structure from the 1892 Congregational Church. It has been removed as the building is converted to a dwelling house.

Decorative timber from the roof support at the 1892 Chapel in Market Lavington

It bears this inscription.

The inscription has been hidden since the chapel was built.

‘Fixed August 4th 1892 by Sirus John Tree Stafford of Southwick near Trowbridge working for William Smith, builder of Trowbridge.’

Sirus John Tree Stafford was born towards the end of 1868. His birth was registered in the Westbury district of Wiltshire.

At the time of the 1871 census Sirus was the youngest son of Sirus senior and his wife Ellen. Sirus senior, aged just 33, was described as a retired farmer. The home was 6, Southwick Street in North Bradley, Wiltshire.

Ten years later, in 1881, saw the Stafford family at Greenhill Cottage in Southwick. Sirus senior had died and our Sirus’s mother has the name Henrietta on this census. She was an annuitant and young Sirus, aged 12, was a scholar.

By 1891 our Sirus was a carpenter and was the oldest of the three children at home with mother, Henrietta, at Greenhill Cottage.

Sirus married Sarah Ann Jackson in the spring of 1891.

We know Sirus was carpentering for the firm of William Smith of Trowbridge, working on the Congregational Church of Market Lavington in 1892.

In 1901 Sirus, his wife, Sarah and five children lived at Poles Hole, Southwick. Sirus was a carpenter.

In 1911 Sirus and family had moved to a home from his younger days – Greenhill Cottage at Southwick.

Sirus died in the first part of 1936.

This piece of wood has been away at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, for treatment, but is now a part of the display about the chapel which can be found in the museum kitchen.

Sunday School in the old Quaker Meeting House

June 10, 2011

In the 17th and 18th centuries the Quaker movement was strong in Market Lavington, despite extensive persecution. The Quaker ‘House of Friends’ in Market Lavington was certainly built and in use by 1716 but the movement tended to fade away locally and in 1799 the meeting house was sold.

The Independent Church, as it moved towards Congregationalism was able to take over the old Quaker chapel and the members had it in use by 1809.

In 1892 they opened the new and much bigger church almost directly opposite the old ‘House of Friends’ but they retained the previous building for a Sunday School and as a hall and it remained in use as such until the second half of the 20th century.

Just recently, a rather rare photograph has been given to the museum (with thanks to Keith and Gina). It shows children attending a meeting in the old chapel – the former Quaker House. It is thought that the picture – not the sharpest ever seen – dates from the early 1950s.

Children attend Sunday School in Market Lavington's former Quaker Meeting House - 1950s

The chapel has (and has now it is in private ownership) a balcony and we assume the hefty pillar helps to support it.

Many of the youngsters and adults in the photo have been named.

1)    Mrs Enda King
2)    Mrs Isabel Burt
3)    Janet Burt
4)    Stella Oram
5)    not yet known
6)    Gina Gibbs
7)    Sheila Ellis
8)    Ada Hopkins
9)    Jean Izatt
10)  Maureen Coventry
11)  not yet known
12)  George Reid
13)  Eric Burt
14)  Roger Cox
15)  not yet known
16)   Maureen Gibbs
17)   Audrey Thompson
18)   Margaret gale
19)   ? Cooper
20)   David Burt
21)   Ivan White
22)   Alan Smith
23)   not yet known
24)   Jean Hiscock
25)   Barbara Ellis
26)   Florrie Isherwood
27)   Mary Burt
28)   Jenny Wells
29)   not yet known
30)   not yet known
31)   not yet known
32)   Brian Coles
33)   Joanne Huish
34)   not yet known
35)   ? Smith
36)   Paul? Wells
37)   Marcia Cox
38)   Marlene ?
39)   ? Smith
40)   ? Cooper
41)   Edmund Gibbs
42)   Wendy Merrit
43)   Glen Mills
44)  Clive Askey

Congregational Church Members

March 30, 2011

Nonconformist religion has a long history in Market Lavington. The Quaker movement was strong in the 17th century, despite strong persecution. From the early nineteenth century, other branches of Christianity flourished and within the wider parishes of Market Lavington and Easterton there were Wesleyan and Methodist chapels. The survivor of these earlier congregations now goes under the name of Trinity Church. Trinity was formed in a merger of three local churches of which one was the United Reform Church. This group can be traced back to the Market Lavington Independent Church which was formed in 1805 and later it became the Congregational Church.

During 2010, its 1895 building was sold, but the church body continues to meet and worship – in the Community Hall. There will be a display about the church at the museum this year. To set the scene let’s look at some of the church members in the 1960s.

Some Congregational Church members in the 1960s - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Here we see, from left to right;
Mrs Theresa Gale
Mrs Sam Hopkins
Mr Harry Hobbs
Mrs Elsie Powner
Rev Bertram Powner
Mr Dickie Burt
Mrs Ada Bishop

We do not know the occasion but this has the style of a press photo of the era, where the newspaper hoped to get more money by selling glossy enlargements to the people shown.

The Tent Mission

March 23, 2011

Occupying youngsters in the long summer holidays has always been a problem for working parents. Probably, many more mums were at home back in 1953 but they probably still appreciated the visit of the tent on the old recreation ground. The tent, and the adults with it, brought Christianity to the youngsters with activities that kept them occupied.

We have seen such an event before on these pages (click here) from back in the 1920s. Today we see the children at an event in 1953.

Children at the mission tent on the old Recreation Ground at Market Lavington.The year is 1953

We can take in the scale of the event with about 60 children attending. Sadly our records do not name any of the people on this photo. Maybe a resident who was around in 1953 could have a go for us.

To start off, we wonder if the man at the back holding a child might have been Ron Kimmer.