Posts Tagged ‘toy’

One that got away

May 19, 2016

Here we have a news item which has been sellotaped into an album (and thus damaged).


This news item dates from 28th February 1952. The person who kept it hasn’t named the paper. It shows a wonderful toy found in the home of the late George Cull of Easterton. The toy represents a double decked horse drawn bus. The bus appears to be made of basket work. Whilst the age of the toy was uncertain, it had been found wrapped in an 1887 newspaper so it is assumed to be that old at least.

Of course, back in 1952 we had no museum here in Lavington. As far as our museum is concerned we missed the bus and it got away. But now we have begun enquiries to find out if this lovely looking toy still exists.


A wagon kit

February 27, 2016

John Davis was a coal merchant in Market Lavington at the time when coal was king. If you wanted to keep warm or cook things then the chances are you used coal. Huge quantities were moved around the country, mostly by rail. Some merchants had their own dedicated wagons and although no actual wagons survive, a model company produced a kit of a Davis of Lavington wagon. We have seen this photo before on this blog which shows a made up wagon, ready to run on an OO gauge model railway.

OO gauge Davis and Co of Market Lavington coal wagon

OO gauge Davis and Co of Market Lavington coal wagon

We also have a nearly identical wagon in unmade kit form.

A very similar wagon in kit form

A very similar wagon in kit form

It looks as though Davis had at least seven wagons for this is number 7 whereas the made up kit is number 5!

The kit looks as fiddly as these things often are, but also has some information with it.

The kit contains some historical background information

The kit contains some historical background information

Our decision is to leave this one in kit form as we have the made up model. Our luck is that a company decided to make a model with a Market Lavington connection.


Clay marbles

January 30, 2016

Here we have yet another ‘found under the floorboards’ collection from 21 Church Street. 2015 was the year of ‘Lost and Found’ at the museum as we featured metal detector and other finds dug up in our parish. 2016 seems to have started with a similar theme.

At the moment, five very nice clay marbles have been located under floorboards. Bob, who lives there and is doing the renovation work expects there to be more.

Clay marbles found under the floorboards at 21 Church Street

Clay marbles found under the floorboards at 21 Church Street

As can be seen, these marbles vary in size a little. The central one appears to be of a different material.

Marbles is a truly ancient and world-wide game. Marbles have been found in archaeology sites all over the world, dating back thousands of years. Early marbles are thought to have been naturally made. Mass production of clay marbles began in the 1890s. Prior to that they had been hand-made, one at a time. It was mass production that made marbles very affordable.

These days, of course, ordinary marbles are mass produced in glass with art marbles being hand made.

Our curator, who’d have been a marbles player in the 1950s doesn’t recall seeing clay marbles in use. ‘It was all glass marbles’, he says. So we rather assume these marbles probably date from before World War Two. They are possibly 19th century, but it is more likely that some poor lads, possibly in the Hopkins family for they occupied 21 Church Street, lost these marbles, irretrievably at the time, in the early years of the 20th century.

These are lovely items to add to our burgeoning ‘Lost and Found’ collection.

Somebody lost their marbles

April 20, 2014

Marbles are truly ancient toys. They have been found in the ashes of Pompeii which means the Romans used them more than 2000 years ago.

Mass production of clay marbles began in 1884 but it isn’t always possible to tell if such clay marbles are from the era of mass production, or from the era of one at a time making.

However, we do think that a couple of clay marbles that we have at Market Lavington Museum do date from the nineteenth century. Here is one of them.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

One of two 19th century clay marbles found during renovations at the former Volunteer Arms.

Being a marble, the size is about 1 centimetre across.

We do not know who lost these marbles, but we do know they were found during renovations at the old Volunteer Arms pub on Church Street. Perhaps marbles was played as a pub game, out in the yard or maybe these toys belonged to family who lived there. For much of the nineteenth century this was a branch of the Potter family. They certainly didn’t lose their marbles in any other sense.

The letter box

February 17, 2014

Our villages, Easterton and Market Lavington, have several letter boxes and some have been in place since the reign of Queen Victoria. We looked at one of them and some correspondence about it a year ago (click here).

But we are actually looking at a child’s money box this time. It is shaped like a pillar box and that’s something we don’t actually have in the villages. Here it is.

1930s money box in the shape of a pillar box for mail

1930s money box in the shape of a pillar box for mail

The fact that it is a George V box dates it to between 1910 and 1936. We think it is probably from the 1930s. Children are invited to post their pennies and in those days they’d have been the lovely, big old pennies.

The other side of the box has information about the old British coinage.

The back of the box helped to ensure children understood the rather strange old British currency

The back of the box helped to ensure children understood the rather strange old British currency

This lovely little item stands about ten centimetres tall.

It was given to the museum by a resident of White Street in Market Lavington.


A Trundling Hoop

July 31, 2013

The other day our curator was walking to the museum when he met Dave who lives on Northbrook.

‘I’ve got something that might interest you’, said Dave and he nipped into his shed and came out with a metal hoop – this one

This trundling hoop, probably 80 years old, can now be found at Market Lavington Museum

This trundling hoop, probably 80 years old, can now be found at Market Lavington Museum

Dave went on, ‘It’s one of those kid’s hoops they used to roll down streets using a stick. I think that was a bit of hazel normally’.

He went on to say that the hoop had belonged to his dad.

Well, the hoop now belongs to Market Lavington Museum and we are trying to find out more about it.

It seems that both girls and boys used hoops in times past, but girls used lighter, wooden hoops which they propelled along with wooden sticks. A metal hoop was deemed to be a boy’s toy and that was actually propelled with what got called a handle which, like the hoop was made of iron. Both kinds of hoop were very popular in Victorian times and their popularity continued well into the twentieth century. Perhaps they went out of fashion when roads ceased to be safe places for games. In this case, not only the kids playing might be at risk from traffic, but traffic could be at risk from a runaway hoop. Our hoop is some 57cm in diameter and weighs in at close on a kilogram. Yes, that could do some damage.

Interestingly, smaller metal trundling hoops are still for sale, particularly in China. From these we can get an idea of what the handle looked like. We might even find someone to make us one so the hoop can be used.

Thanks again to Dave for producing this memory of childhood past.

A Pencil Sharpener

November 20, 2012

Today we look at a practical device with a different appearance. It’s a pencil sharpener and probably about eighty to ninety years old
It was made in Germany but used by a White Street family in Market Lavington.

Pencil sharpener in the shape of a Zeppelin airship. This item probably dates from the 1920s or 30s and can be seen at Market Lavington Museum.

As can be seen, it takes the shape of an airship – sometimes called a blimp. Being German, it is actually based upon Count Zeppelin’s ideas, with a rigid light alloy framework. It is not really a blimp at all.

If the airship had an era it was in the 1920s and 1930s, Because hydrogen was used, the outcome was not always good and, in the case of the Hindenburg, the end was almost explosive and certainly utterly tragic.

But during the era of hope and popularity, no wonder youngsters were keen to have their own models and a pencil sharpener had utility as well as beauty.

Our pencil sharpener is not in good condition but we are pleased to have it as a reminder of that past era.

Honeychurch Doll’s House

November 9, 2011

We are delighted to have a Honeychurch doll’s house at Market Lavington Museum. These houses were made in Market Lavington, achieving a very high reputation for quality and they sold all over the world.

Our doll’s house is a small, wall-mounted house as befits the space available in a small cottage. Not only is it a museum exhibit, it is also there for children to play with when they visit the museum. We also have a toy trunk with other toys our younger visitors can use.

1960s Honeychurch doll's house at Market Lavington Museum

The house dates from the 1960s. Some twenty years later, local school children produced this company ‘profile’ for the Domesday project, which the BBC has now reloaded at

Honeychurch Toys is a small company making wooden houses and Jack in the boxes. Mrs Honeychurch went to Bath Academy where she learnt to be an art and craft teacher. Her partner went to college and trained in furniture design and worked with wood. They employ 5 people and 1 part time for 3 hours. They make 5 varieties of Jack in the box, the Golly, Mr Punch, Strong Man, Harlequin and Joey. It takes 3 days to make 108. The houses are made with birch ply wood from Russia and include Town house, Cotswold house, French house, Cupboard house, Edwardian house, Victorian shop, L-shaped house and Regency house. The biggest doll’s house they have made is 6 ft square. It was made specially for a 21st birthday present. The houses go to Germany and France.

A child’s scooter

July 7, 2011

Scooters for youngsters were popular in an earlier age and have had a resurgence with new materials and techniques making them stronger, lighter and more versatile.

An old child's scooter at Market Lavington Museum

It is thought that this scooter was probably made in the 1920s or 30s probably by a local blacksmith.  The Merritt family of blacksmiths could, perhaps, have been involved although there were other blacksmiths in the area.It is a frighteningly simple device lacking in features like brakes. One can imagine that it might have got up a good turn of speed coming down Lavington Hill or Spin Hill or, perhaps the hill down to Northbrook. And in those days of virtually no motor traffic it was felt not too much of a risk to ride down such hills. Even into the 1980s local youngsters risked riding skateboards down some of these hills.

This scooter was used by several generations of local youngsters.  It is known that the Vears family used it and also the Ashford Browns.

This scooter is an example of an item which has been conserved in ‘as found’ condition. Purpose built mounts have been made to hold the scooter away from the wall but no attempt has been made to restore it to anything like original condition.

A metal puzzle

April 19, 2011


Was this an Edwardian way of keeping youngsters quiet? The item shown below is said to be a metal puzzle so we assume the two parts come apart. But nobody who has tried (in recent years) has succeded. It’s probably easy once you know how…..

Not an instrument of torture, but a child's metal puzzle at market Lavington Museum

This puzzle belonged to a lad called James Welch. James was born in about 1889 in Market Lavington so one imagines this toy must date from the very early years of the twentieth century. James was born into quite a well-to-do family. They owned numerous properties in the village  so no doubt he had something of a privileged childhood – but he still was expected to play with this toy.

James was injured in the first world war and returned with a walking difficulty. He married and amongst his children was one known as Peggy who became the founder of the museum as Peggy Gye.

James Welch, who owned the puzzle, with his daughter, Peggy Gye