Market Lavington Museum

A Japanese Mystery – Detectives Required


The museum has just acquired a new postcard. It’s a rather faded sepia print of fourteen people wearing ‘oriental’ clothing and holding fans and parasols.

Japanese troupe

There is nothing on the front to link it to our local villages, but the writing on the back clearly states, ‘The Market Lavington Japanese Troupe.

Japanese card back

The card has not been used postally, so we have no stamp or postmark to help us with a date. The group are clearly dressed up, rather than wearing their own clothes, which makes it hard to infer the period from the fashions. Our best guess is that the hairstyles look Edwardian, though the ladies could be wearing wigs, of course.

So, what was the occasion? Market Lavington and Easterton residents were renowned for dressing up, particularly for the carnival during Hospital Week, in the 1920s and 30s. (There is a display about this in the museum for 2019.) But the setting of the picture, with Japanese paper lanterns hanging in the garden, might suggest an event located there, rather than out in the streets. Could they be the cast of a performance, maybe The Mikado? If so, were they planning to act outside or in a large local building?

There is so little evidence to go on and we would be delighted to hear from anyone with local knowledge who can help us out.

Maybe you have other photographs of this garden with its distinctive trellis. To the right of the trellis, but hard to see, there is chicken wire, which is taller than the gentleman on the right of the picture. Maybe you had family members, fond of performing, and can match a face to a photograph in your possession. Maybe you are aware of the event and its date.

Do, please, add a comment to this post if you have any knowledge or ideas.