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A brief history of Market LavingtonBy Peggy Gye (In memory of Mrs Peggy Gye 1921 - 2010)
From recent excavations at Grove Farm, we know that, within the area of the village, people have been living for about four thousand years. The various types of soil in the parish, chalk downland, clay and sand, together with an abundant water supply, made it an ideal place for a settlement.
Market Lavington was referred to as “Laventone” in the Doomsday book, which is the earliest written reference to the village. The name changed several times over the years, Chepyng Lavington, Steeple Lavington and East Lavington amongst them.
It was in 1254 that Richard Rochelle was granted a charter to hold a market here, where sheep and grain were sold. The market continued until the early years of the last century – Wednesday was Market Day and a fair was held on August 15th, the date of the Patronal Festival of the Parish Church. Even in those early days of the market, there was a traffic problem with the wagons and carts, so they arrived via Parsonage Lane, and left the Market Place by going down the hill to Northbrook and then going along the bed of the stream to link up with Spin Hill.
The Parish is about five miles long and a mile wide, a lot of this area being Salisbury Plain. In 1910 the War Office extended their ranges and took over the hill land south of the Ridge road, which runs along the edge of the Plain. The farm houses and buildings were demolished, and the inhabitants moved elsewhere. The sites of the farm houses and buildings can still be identified in places, by the remains of the trees, which sheltered them, and the cavities in the ground which had been dewponds to provide drinking water for the live-stock.
The present village grew clustered around the Market Place. The centre of the village has changed but little over the last hundred or more years. Being a little town, the houses were closely packed together leaving no room for new houses or extensions to be added. Most of the houses are built of local bricks and tiles, made at the brickworks which was latterly located along the Broadway where we now have some light industry. Brick had been made in that area of heavy clay for hundreds of years, but with modern methods of manufacture it became uneconomic, and the brickworks closed in the 1950’s. If one takes a close look at the houses in the village centre it is possible to see where windows have been altered and some present private houses were once shops. Before modern transport arrived, Market Lavington was a little shopping centre for the surrounding villages. Many of the houses have eighteenth century facades on older buildings.
The Parish church was build mainly in the thirteenth century and replaced an earlier Norman one. Carved stone from the Norman church forms a string course in the church porch. Trinity church formerly the Congregational Chapel was built of local bricks and tiles in 1892. They had previously occupied the Old Quaker Meeting House, on the other side of the High Street. The Chinese Take Away/Fish and Chip shop was originally a strict Baptist Chapel.
The public houses all used to brew their own beer. The last one to do so was the Brewery Tap in White Street which closed in about 1920.
The village has fewer large houses than many of the surrounding villages, for its size, probably due to the fact that it had its industries – farming, brick making and the numerous little malt houses, as well as the usual trades and shops. Of the larger houses The Old House is aptly named as it dates from the early fourteenth century. Cliffe Hall was built in 1732, and the Manor House, now part of Dauntsey’s school, in the 1860’s for the Pleydell Bouverie family who were the Lords of the Manor at that time.
Since the 1920’s, when the first council houses were built and the Spring developed the village has grown in all directions and the population more than doubled. Gone are the days when we all knew everybody in the village, but its still a good place to live.