Posts Tagged ‘Wood’

A Pestle and Mortar

January 15, 2015

Many years ago when our curator was a fairly new steward, a visiting bell ringer popped into the museum and enquired as to whether we had any bell metal mortars.

Specific requests like this are quite rare but we have a record system and things can be looked up. Our future curator was thus able to come back with an ‘I’m sorry, nobody has given us one yet’ and then produce a standard pestle and mortar.

Well we still don’t have one made of bell metal but it seemed like time to give our ordinary mortar, complete with associated pestle, an airing on the blog.

A 19th century pestle and mortar at Market Lavington Museum

A 19th century pestle and mortar at Market Lavington Museum

They do not look to be an original pair. That pestle (the beating and grinding stick) is surely too big for the mortar (the dish) but both are believed to date from about the 1880s.

The mortar and the active end of the pestle are made of a ceramic material, hard enough so that it doesn’t get worn away, yet not so brittle that it breaks easily. We think the lovely, tactile handle of the pestle is made of ash wood but if that’s a bad guess then maybe a timber expert out there will put us straight.

There are marks on the base of the mortar.

Museum and manufacturer marks

Museum and manufacturer marks

The top two numbers are our museum identifiers. Marking such objects is quite a problem since the marks need to be permanent, yet removable. Suffice to say they are precisely that. The other marks – the large letter I and the word Turner are, presumably, maker’s marks but we have not identified anything more about them.

Our gut feeling is that the hefty pestle would originally have been intended for a pharmacist, crushing his potions whilst the mortar may have been rather more domestic. However, the two items arrived at the museum as one item and had been in the possession of a resident of White Street in Market Lavington.




October 26, 2014

Peter has lived in Market Lavington for fifty years. He is a true, wonderful craftsman working in wood (mostly) and manufacturing bespoke furniture and cabinets for all sorts of major customers from his workshop in the village. He’s now well past retirement age and doesn’t do so much work now.

Some 30 or so years ago, he was persuaded by a niece to try selling at craft fairs. He was able to make use of offcuts of timber to produce all sorts of items, ranging from miniature furniture (not toys as he is still keen to say) through puzzles and right down to very small items.

He was recently kind enough to give us some buttons he made from yew wood. And truly lovely they are.

Buttons made of yew by Peter in Market Lavington

Buttons made of yew by Peter in Market Lavington

As you’d expect, every button is different for each one has been hand crafted by Peter. They show the yew off so well.


These buttons, of course, are now kept for posterity. They can remind future residents of the village that crafts and trades still went on here even into the age of computers.

We’d like to thank Peter – a quiet and retiring man – for sharing some of his work with us.

A work box from 1938

May 21, 2014

This small piece of furniture was made by Tom Gye for his sister, Bessie. Tom was 17 when he made it which means it was made in 1937 or 38. Bessie was one of Tom’s big sisters, born in 1917 so perhaps Tom made it as a 21st present. Bessie may be better remembered by her married name of Bessie Francis. Her husband, Peter, was the village photographer for many years. This item has just been given to Market Lavington Museum.


A work box made in 1938 for his sister, Bessie

This item is craftsman made in oak. Some of the joints are accurate dovetails.

Neat dovetail joints

Neat dovetail joints

Here we see an example of Tom’s teenage work on the drawer. The lid opens to make it suitable as a needlework box. The drawer and lower shelf offer additional storage.

The box has plenty of storage space

The box has plenty of storage space

We feel very privileged to have this locally made item, with all the provenance of family knowledge. We hope to be able to display this item and make use of the storage it offers to display other items. You’ll see it in the entrance room at the museum.

The Oak Settle

September 22, 2013

Here we have a substantial item which is always out in our upstairs room, yet is rarely seen. It is a large oak settle. The wood has been stained giving it a dark, almost black appearance. It dates from about 1800 and is almost a movable wall, no doubt very useful for keeping draughts at bay.

As a little aside, that statement about draughts could cause amusement in Wiltshire. With a Wiltshire accent, the word ‘giraffe’ comes out more like ‘draf’. Indeed, many a Wiltshire teacher will have seen youngsters, when writing about the tall African mammal, spell it just like that – D R A F! As far as we know we have no giraffes to be kept at bay by an old black settle.

An oak settle from about 1800 spent its working life on White Street in Market Lavington

An oak settle from about 1800 spent its working life on White Street in Market Lavington

Our records say this settle belonged to the Gye family, first at Beech Cottage and then at Beech House. The records need checking, for both properties belonged to the Welch family. Our founder curator, Peggy Gye had been a Miss Welch before she married.

The reason this item isn’t noticed is because it gets used as a display stand. It is so good to be able to drape a wonderful fabric over it. In the past it has been a bedspread made by Mrs Crassweller. And then we can arrange a family of people on it. The people change each year. This year we have some people getting up in the morning. The settle looks more like this.

The settle now performs a very useful job at Market Lavington Museum

The settle now performs a very useful job at Market Lavington Museum

The settle is, of course, of interest, but it seems much more human when used in this way.

Some craft work by James Jeremiah George Gye

July 29, 2013

It seems to be the habit in many local families to have an official first name but to actually use a middle name. It can cause great confusion and here we have a case in point. James is the name used in all official documents, but this young man was known as George. So from now on, we’ll call him George.

George was born in about 1876. His parents were James Gye, a wheelwright and carpenter and his wife Mary Ann (née Durnford).

We do not know a huge amount about George. In 1881 he was a scholar and the family lived at Fiddington Clay. By 1891, the family had moved to White Street, Market Lavington and had premises where the dwellings known as Gye’s Old Yard now stand. George was an apprentice carpenter, aged 15.

In about 1896, George produced this piece of carved cotton wood.

Carved panel produced by George Gye of Market Lavington in about 1896

Carved panel produced by George Gye of Market Lavington in about 1896

It looks like a quality piece of work but is clearly unfinished.

George may well have been ill by the time he carved this. Our records say it was done as a hobby rather than for any known real purpose.

Sadly, George died in 1899, aged 23.

He appeared recently in photo of the family. Click here.

It is believed he died of TB.

Laundry Tongs

March 1, 2013

Most of us, these days, use an automatic washing machine. You load it, select the setting and switch on and go and do something else. Later, you come back and remove the washing which already has most of the water out of it. You can easily transfer it to somewhere else to dry.

Of course, it wasn’t always like that. Our curator recalls his mother slaving away at the kitchen sink, washing sheets, scrubbing shirt collars etc, from when he was a lad. Our archivist even recalls helping her mother wash clothes using a dolly tub and posser.

When washing needed a transfer to the next stage it was often very wet, hot and covered in whatever cleaning agents were in use. Tongs were essential.

Then, in the UK, we reached the time of the twin tub washing machine. This had one container for washing and a separate spin dryer. Once again, the washing had to be manually moved from one place to another whilst absolutely sopping wet. Those tongs were needed again.

These days such tongs are largely museum pieces. We have some at Market Lavington Museum.

Laundry tongs dating from qbout 1960 at Market Lavington Museum

Laundry tongs dating from about 1960 at Market Lavington Museum

This pair of laundry tongs looks almost unused although they are 50 or more years old. They date from the time of the twin tub. The construction is simple. Two ‘blades’ of wood are joined by a spring steel hinge. The wood looks like beech although we don’t claim to be experts.

Very similar items can still be purchased so presumably some people still use them and of course, they’d have uses other than for laundry. The home dying of wool or other fabrics comes to mind.

These tongs, at Market Lavington Museum, were used by a White Street, Market Lavington family.

Mary and the high chair

March 25, 2010

The high chair is one of the treasures of Market Lavington Museum.

Mary awaits her meal in the high chair at Market Lavington Museum

It dates from about the 1890s but had a long life. Just about 100 years ago, Flo Burbidge would have been fed in this very high chair – just about in its present location in the living room of their house. The Burbidge’s house is now the museum and the high chair is just where it belongs. Flo Burbidge was born in the museum building in 1908 and was there to see the museum opened in 1985.

Mary, the doll, is new to the museum having recently been given, not as an artefact in her own right, but to enable baby clothes to be displayed.

Mary is dressed in rather a mixed style. Her dress, of white lawn, dates from the 1880s whereas her cotton bonnet dates from around the time of the first-world war. Her bib sits on the tray of the high chair. This dates from the second-world war and was made by Mrs Gye.

Despite the mixed past of the clothing, Mary looks ready for her meal – and exceedingly well behaved.

Weekly Offering Boxes

January 26, 2010

Market Lavington residents will know that the Trinity Church now hold their services in the wonderful Community Hall which is warm, bright and with adequate parking. They have left their chapel in the Townsend area of High Street and are, at present, considering its future. Some of the items from within the chapel, which was built in the 1880s as a Congregational Church, are now making their way to the museum.

Weekly offering Boxes from the Congregational Chapel

Amongst these items are a couple of weekly offering boxes which were once fastened to walls in the old chapel. These boxes have now joined some other wooden collecting boxes which were used during Market Lavington’s ‘Hospital Weeks’ in the 1920s and 30s and again for ‘Red Cross Weeks’ during the Second World War.

It is thought that the boxes from the Congregational Chapel date back to the nineteenth century.

If you know more about these boxes – maybe an ancestor of yours made them – then please contact the curator.