masthead - 5Kb 2019 April 06

200 350 past newsletter articles online in full Jim Nagel

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Newsletter 150 came out this autumn. To celebrate the milestone, around 200 350 articles (so far) from the past 25 years of newsletters are now online in full here, on the Glastonbury Conservation Society website.

  The collage of photos gives a sample of the 200 350. Click on any of the miniature photos to be taken to its full article.

  Or see the Table of Contents, which gives a complete list of everything published in all newsletters since 1999. Articles that are online in full are flagged with the symbol     in the Contents list — click the symbol to go straight to that article.

  You’ll find that in many cases the photo that was originally published black-and-white is online in full colour. The text, however, is pretty well unchanged from what was printed at the time, and a line at the top of the page clearly indicates the date of original publication.

  Some cross-references have been added so that you can jump to related articles in other newsletter issues.

  Overall, the website has had a behind-the-scenes technical makeover to make it visually clean and consistent and fast to load.

  There is a further important new feature: the Search box. Enter any word or phrase and press Go. Faster than Google you get a list of all the articles in which your phrase appears. You can click on the relevant result to go exactly to that page. For this feature we must thank an excellent service called Freefind.

  A link to the Table of Contents for all newsletters since 1999 appears beside the Search box. If you have the original printed newsletters, the Table of Contents shows you the relevant page number for each article.

  And what about the newsletters from before 1999? Well, the computer files for these are archived on cartridges from a device no longer in use. They too will appear online after a bit of cyber-archaeology.

  More articles will appear online as time permits. If there is one that you would like to see sooner, email Jim Nagel (see link at foot of any page).

New feature:
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Table of Contents for all newsletters since 1999:

• 1999 to 2007
• 2008 to date

Our February earthquake vs our tsunami 400 years ago JN

Glastonbury felt a sudden thud on Saturday February 17 in 2018, like a pile-driver at work next door or a big lorry going over a kerb, or a sonic boom.

  The radio news reported that it was a small earthquake, magnitude 4.2, at 14:31 GMT, centred about five miles underground near Swansea. People noticed it as far away as Blackpool, London and Cornwall. No damage worse than rattling crockery was mentioned.

The “great flood” of 1607.

  Four centuries ago, however, a tsunami — as we would call it now — a 15-foot wall of water moving at 30 miles an hour — crashed into Somerset and killed thousands of people. More of that story was told in Newsletter 134. The water came up as far as the chancel of St Benedict’s church in Glastonbury.

  (The Richter scale for measuring earthquakes is logarithmic, which means, for example, that magnitude 5 is ten times stronger than magnitude 4. Thus Japan’s 2011 quake of magnitude 9, one of the worst ever recorded, was 100,000 times stronger than the Swansea thud of magnitude 4 on February 17.)

Tribunal markers almost lost to asphalt

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Too bad workmen didn’t see the plaque on the rear wall of the ancient Tribunal, which explains the meaning of the granite markers in the carpark. [Photomontage by JN]

The granite setts marking the Tribunal’s ancient boundary disappeared when workmen blanketed St John’s carpark with new asphalt in the autumn, but the county council almost immediately replaced the stones when the Conservation Society pointed out the blunder.

  The markers had been taken out, not just covered over, during the resurfacing work, said John Brunsdon, the society’s president as well as a town and district councillor. “The replacements, though, look very much like the originals.” He gave due thanks to the council portfolio holder for putting it right so quickly.

  “Involving English Heritage, as we did, turned out well,” said John. “It increased their interest in the Tribunal, and unearthed some details about backfill that was done when the carpark was set up. It also revealed bits and pieces dating back to the replacement of the church tower [about 1475]. They got all excited about it.”

Background: In the late 1960s the owners of all these gardens behind the High Street donated them to the old Glastonbury Borough Council to become free parking for the good of the town.

  But in 1973 the borough council was abolished when the government reorganized all local authorities and set up Mendip district council. The borough’s paperwork was unfortunately lost in a flood at Mendip’s temporary offices, and Mendip imposed the same parking charges as in its other towns. Glastonbury folk with long memories have been sore ever since.

  The canopy from Glastonbury’s old railway station was moved and reassembled in the carpark in 1983 by the Conservation Society, originally the idea of Martin Godfrey when he was a member of the society’s committee. The project won a Pride of Place award from the Civic Trust. The dozen or so trees in St John’s carpark were planted by the Conservation Society at about the same time.

Editorial: And in this writer’s opinion, this asphalt desert in the heart of Glastonbury needs a lot more trees!

  Furthermore, the town and the planning authorities need a vision to make this area worthy of the grand name they gave it: “St John’s Square”. Wouldn’t it be fine if any new construction at the rear of High Street properties would harmonize into a unified townscape rather than a haphazard lot of piecemeal rear ends.

  At the top end of town, the motleyness of backsides facing the Butt Close carpark is even more disgraceful. And Silver Street, where High Street posteriors face the Abbey: how sad.

  All but one of these carparks are in the Conservation Area, after all.

Walter Tully, Glastonbury’s pioneer photographer

This studio portrait by Walter Tully is what is known as a Cabinet Card — the picture is 10.5 × 15cm. It shows two young men, who are probably brothers, dressed in their best. “What is the occasion?” Andrew Boatswain wonders. “I am guessing it is all about a wedding and one is the bridegroom and the other his best man. This photo could date from about 1905.

Glastonbury Conservation Society’s annual general meeting in November 2015 saw a collection of photos taken in town between 150 and 90 years ago by Walter Tully.

  Plying his trade in the early days of photography, Tully had a state-of-the-art studio with fine skylights at 19 High Street (the building that now houses the Dilliway & Dilliway shop selling crafts from India) until he retired in 1920.

  Andrew Boatswain showed the meeting slides of a number of Tully's photos that he collected — studio portraits, views of local events, book illustrations and picture postcards. They give interesting insights into Glastonbury and its residents over those six decades.

  Frustratingly, however, many of the pictures remain anonymous — such as the two puzzling ones shown here. Can you give any clues?

Andrew Boatswain purchased this photograph (16 × 21cm) from Ohio in the United States. It shows three generations of a family, again dressed in their Sunday best. The costumes would date it about 1902. “Sadly, there is no clue as to the identity of the family members but I would love to know how this picture taken in Walter Tully’s Glastonbury studio ended up in Ohio. There has got to be a story there if only we could find it.”

‘Article 4’ of planning law is now in effect
to give Conservation Area more protection

New rules covering buildings in Glastonbury’s designated Conservation Area — unlisted buildings as well as listed ones — came into effect on August 2 in 2012.

  Mendip District Council mailed a pack to all property owners in the Conservation Area giving details. On the day — despite rain and impossibility of holding an umbrella while tying string — conservation officers fixed official notices on lampposts throughout the Conservation Area.

  Owners now require planning permission to make any change to the front of their property that will affect the character of the neighbourhood.

  Article 4 is part of the Town and Country Planning Act, dating back to 1990. Bringing it into effect in Glastonbury was one of the recommendations of the formal Appraisal of the town’s Conservation Area carried out last year. The Appraisal would have been cancelled in the council’s budget cuts, but a £1,000 grant from the Conservation Society enabled it to go ahead. The Conservation Society at its inception 40 years ago was the moving force that led to the designation of the Conservation Area to begin with, back in 1976.

  Wells is so far the only other area in Mendip where Article 4 is in effect; others are under consideration. South Somerset has Article 4 directions at Wincanton, Bruton and Castle Cary.

Farewell to Keith Miller, fourth generation at hardware shop

This sketch, after an old photograph, shows Keith at age 18 outside the family shop in Benedict Street. (Click here for larger version.) The artist is Keith’s son Matthew Miller — contact him if you’d like to commission a drawing of your own property: (01458) 83 2078.

Keith Miller died in June 2012 at the age of 82, five years after he retired and sold the family hardware shop in Benedict Street because he was due for major heart surgery.

  Keith began working in the family shop when he was 17 and eventually took over from his father, George Miller Jr. It was Glastonbury’s oldest shop: his great-grandfather founded G. Miller & Son in 1872.

The full articles about Keith and Miller’s Hardware from past newsletters are republished on this website.

The Chronicles of John Cannon

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Both volumes of The Chronicles of John Cannon are out now (£55 and £65, Adrian Pearse, a Conservation Society committee member, is probably Cannon's nearest descendant. He reviews the publication in Newsletter 134.

  From Prof John Money, the editor who spent 18 years on the project, a lengthy abstract about Cannon’s diaries of Somerset is online on this website.

  Cannon was born at West Lydford, near Glastonbury, in 1684. He worked as an exciseman (tax officer) and then as a scrivener (solicitor’s clerk) and Glastonbury town schoolmaster. Throughout his life he kept a meticulous diary, and it contains fascinating detail of people, places and customs that no one else of that period recorded. Cannon has been called “the poor man’s Pepys”.

About the society

It is somewhat startling to calculate that the Conservation Society has been doing its bit for more than 10% of the tercentenary that Glastonbury as a town recently celebrated: 40 years out of the 300.

  The society was formed in haste in 1971 in order to save the Crown Hotel in the central Market Place from being pulled down, as had several interesting medieval buildings nearby; swift spot-listing saved a number of other sites too. Today the Crown thrives as the Backpackers Inn. Another project was to rescue some of Glastonbury’s pre-Beeching heritage: the canopy from the railway station, by relocating it (ironically?) amid parked cars in the main central carpark, where it sometimes shelters market stalls and always makes two acres of asphalt easier on the eye. The trees in the carparks are the society’s work too.

  Today, Glastonbury Conservation Society

  • obtains copies of all planning applications and exercises the right to comment
  • plants trees in town and 10 miles around: 45,000 trees in 40 years!
  • hears interesting talks from experts on various aspects of our environment
  • publishes a newsletter (approx quarterly).

  The membership subscription is only £7.50* a year; members are of course free to give more. Glastonbury Conservation Society is a registered charity (number 264036).

  You can download the form for membership and annual standing order here (PDF).

* The annual subscription fee increased modestly in 2015, from £5.

Civic Voice is the national body set up in 2010 as an umbrella group for local societies promoting civic pride all over Britain.

These are some of the current Civic Voice campaigns: • Alliance of cathedral cities and historic towns • Big Conservation Conversation • Civic Day • Local Heritage List • Save our high streets • Street clutter • War memorials. A previous campaign challenged the government’s proposals to loosen the planning process in favour of developers.

Civic Sense is the online newsletter published monthly by Civic Voice, with links to civic societies around the country and what they’re doing.

  (Glastonbury Conservation Society has not yet joined Civic Voice.)

Also on this website

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Eric King’s memories of the High Street in the 1940s (four-part series published in newsletters 95–99)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

55 years in Glastonbury: John Brunsdon looks back over his time here

This is the full text of a talk John gave recently, updated from reminiscences he wrote down 10 years earlier.

somerspaint40.jpg - 25Kb Memories of childhood in Somers Square

David Orchard grew up in the 1950s in a forgotten square near the top of the High Street. His schoolboy painting of it won him a scholarship. Somers Square was flattened to become a garage and eventually the Co-op supermarket. Now that too has been demolished and new cottages and flats have gone up; the developer called it Avalon Mews. Click here for a fuller version of David Orchard’s piece, from Newsletter 115.

Links to some affiliated and like-minded organizations

  • The Street Society — our neighbour, two miles west of Glastonbury
  • Wells Civic Society — our cathedral city, five miles north
  • Frome and District Civic Society and the Frome Society for Local Study — interesting old town on the Mendip Hills east of us
  • The Mendip Society — people who care for the Mendip Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Bridgwater & District Civic Society — historic town 15 miles west of us
  • Midsomer Norton Society — appreciating the town's history and influencing its future development. Active member of Civic Voice.
  • Civic Voice — “the national charity for the civic movement in England. We make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive. We promote civic pride.”
  • Past pupils of St Louis convent school in Magdalene Street, now converted to four large dwellings, have set up a website of reminiscences and history
  • Glastonbury Antiquarian Society has an extensive site, with details of its meetings, as well as archives and pictures of the town and its features, including a town trail and the Lake Village
  • Adam Stout is starting to put his talks and papers about Glastonbury history online

The Glastonbury Conservation Society was founded in 1971 in appreciation of our built and natural environment here at Glastonbury, in Somerset, England.

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Tree-planting volunteers always welcome

The society has so far planted 51,600 trees in and around Glastonbury. Contact Alan Fear, 83 3185.

Become a member
Contact Kevin Mitchell, treasurer:
079 6887 6440 or email or download the membership form (PDF).

The subscription fee is just £7.50 a year. Glastonbury Conservation Society is registered charity number 264036. A Gift Aid form is included in the membership form.

More about the society

Email contact

Map of the Conservation Area
The Society’s constitution

Summary of the society’s doings since 1971:
1971–1988 and 1989–2001

The newsletter
Issue 151 came off the press in spring, edited by Alan Fear. 150af(184).png - 33Kb


From the past, a few typical newsletter articles in full:

Table of Contents for all newsletters since 1999:
• 1999 to 2007
• 2008 to date

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