Market Lavington Museum

A barrel lock


A short while ago we featured a barrel tap found by local metal detectorist, Norman (click here). This item set Philip’s mind working. He recalled finding a similar item when clearing his in-laws’ barn at Vicarage Farm in Easterton. It looked interesting and so he stashed it away. And now he has decided it is time this item came to the museum. It is significantly different to Norman’s find. First of all it is a bigger, chunkier item.

Barrel tap from Vicarage Farm in Easterton

Barrel tap from Vicarage Farm in Easterton

We don’t, as yet, have a date for this tap (maybe you can help us with that) but we feel it is much more modern than the tap Norman found.

The other significant difference is that the tap handle is actually a key and is not permanently attached.

The tap handle is a separate key

The tap handle is a separate key

This enabled a boss to be in charge of the distribution of drink. If we imagine harvesters out in a field, wielding their scythes then we can imagine they’d have emptied a barrel in no time. With a barrel lock the flow of drink could be controlled by the person who had the key.

He who holds the key controls the drink!

He who holds the key controls the drink!

The key is a simple, yet elegant piece of metalwork. It was designed to fit through the metal collar on top of the actual tap.

The collar is made to suit an individual key

The collar is made to suit an individual key

The collar is held in place with a simple grub screw. Perhaps an owner had more than one collar and key and could change it to defeat anybody who might make a replica key.

Thanks to Philip for another lovely item which helps to paint a picture of past rural life.