Posts Tagged ‘thatching’

Thatching The Rest

February 21, 2015

The Rest is a pretty thatched cottage on Northbrook in Market Lavington. Towards the end of 2014 the house was re-thatched. House owner Dougald Ballardie became a photo journalist recording all he could of the thatching process. He has put this together in a twenty page A4 sized book and has given a copy to the museum. It’s a fascinating story, starting with a brief history and description of the house and then going right through that thatching process.

The front cover shows the house at the completion of the thatching job.

The front cover of 'Thatching The Rest'

The front cover of ‘Thatching The Rest’

We are pleased to see that Dougald’s well-known and well-loved dog, Sam, got into that photo.

Inside the book we see Dougald’s fine photos and captions.

Just one of the pages in the book

Just one of the pages in the book

This is a great addition to our museum for it is about a local house, but it would also have more general interest to those keen to learn about thatching.

Thanks Dougald.




May 19, 2013

Very few Market Lavington Houses retain their thatched covering. Over the years, the thatched roof has been replaced with more durable and less fire hazardous tiles or slates. Off hand we can think of just four thatched properties in the village. This is one of them, at 25 White Street. It is getting a 21st century make-over.


25 White Stret, Market Lavington receives new thatch

Throughout the wider area there are enough thatched properties to keep several thatching firms alive and kicking. Easterton has several thatched buildings including, of course, its pub, The Royal Oak.

As is usual, the firm here are not re-starting the thatch from scratch. A new layer is being added. A thatched roof tends to get thicker over the years helping the thatch to do its job of keeping the house warm in winter and cool in summer.

Thatching is a country craft which has survived and is thriving in the 21st century.

Whither now the Thatcher?

September 29, 2012

Albert Hiscock was a long term Market Lavington thatcher. We have read about him a couple of times on this blog. (Click here and here). Albert and his wife lived at Hillside at the bottom of Lavington Hill.  One of the nicest photos we have of their house was taken in 1936 – a quickly snapped photo taken when military tanks came off Salisbury Plain and into Market Lavington.

Hillside Cottage, Market Lavington, looks to be well thatched and well protected by a tank – a great photo snapped with a box camera in 1936.

Harriet, Albert’s wife, died in 1954 and Albert joined her in St Mary’s graveyard in January 1955.

Soon after, scaffolding appeared on Hillside cottage.

Hillside Cottage on White Street, Market Lavington in 1955. Now you see the thatch!

And now you don’t. Later in 1955 Hillside Cottage is under a new roof.

By the end of the year, the thatch was gone and Hillside Cottage sported a new, tiled roof.

Once upon a time many houses in Market Lavington were thatched and there was plenty of work for the thatcher. Someone will correct us if we are wrong, but we can place just three thatched houses now.

So, whither now the thatcher? For a while his future looked bleak, but now he’s in his van and maybe operating over a wider area, but the trade is certainly still very much alive and kicking.

The thatcher – a newspaper cutting

August 1, 2011

On 24th July, 1953 a local paper carried a feature about ‘Old Market Lavington’. Sadly, the person who kept the paper removed its name so we do not know which paper it was.

The page about our village contains a number of stories about people and places, some from long before 1953 and some about older people who were still alive.

Today we look at Mr Hiscock, the thatcher. We did look at this thatching family back in November, at which time our curator said, ‘We’ll see what else we can find out about the Hiscocks. Here is a bit more.

Small news item about Albert Hiscock from a 1953 Wiltshire newspaper

Above we see the small item about  Mr Albert Hiscock, Albert. Albert was born about 1872 in Potterne parish, but by the time of the 1881 census he was in the Lavington area – Fiddington, to be precise – where he lived with his parents (dad, Jacob, was a thatcher) and brothers and sisters.

Albert was still with his parents in 1891. This time, in Easterton. Albert was described as a gardener on this census.

In 1901 Albert lived in Little Cheverell with his wife, Harriet and the first couple of their children. Albert had now become a thatcher – following in father’s footsteps. He was still in Cheverell in 1911.

We do not know when Albert moved to Market Lavington, but the photo with the newspaper article tells us that in 1953, he lived with his son at Hillside in Market Lavington.

Albert Hiscock of Market Lavington in 1953

Albert died in 1955, just a few months after Harriet. Both are buried in the churchyard at Market Lavington.

We’d still like to know more of the Hiscock family. Do get in touch if you can tell us any more.


November 21, 2010

Many old time country crafts have faded away but one which is still very much alive and well is thatching. Market Lavington has a number of thatched properties still, although many had their thatch exchanged for some other more permanent roofing material during the 20th century. Meadow Cottage which featured here in these pages is a case in point.

Today we look at a hand written page about Mr Jacob Hiscock who was a thatcher. This document was written in 1953 by one of Jacob’s descendants.

Hand written note about Jacob Hiscock, Thatcher. This was written in about 1953 by a descendant of Jacob and is now in Market Lavington Museum

This tells us something of the way of life of a country craftsman in times past. But Jacob’s past is a bit more complex than the writer says.

Jacob was born in Rowde in about 1832. We can find him in 1851 living with mother and stepfather at the Dunkirk end of Rowde. Later that year Jacob married his wife, Caroline Arter.

In 1861 the Hiscock family lived in Devizes and in 1871 the family were in Potterne.

We first find this Hiscock family in Lavington in 1881. In fact they lived in Fiddington Clay, which technically was in West Lavington although now it is Market Lavington.

In 1891 Jacob and family lived at The Sands, Easterton. They were still there in 1901. Thatching must have been a reasonable job for money, for the Hiscocks had a servant, who also assisted with the thatching, living with them.

Caroline died in 1908 but Jacob was still in Easterton for the 1911 census although he died later that year.

Albert Hiscock, mentioned on the document was born about 1872 and he moved to Great Cheverell.

Any further information about these Hiscocks would be appreciated. Do leave a reply on the blog or contact the curator by email.