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  Reprinted from Newsletter 90, dated 1999 February

Notes from the society’s earliest minute books Jan Morland

The Crown Hotel in the Market Place stands today as a result of founding Glastonbury Conservation Society in 1971: it would have followed other town-centre heritage buildings into modernized oblivion.

The December 1998 committee met at Bill Knight’s fish emporium to commemorate John Brunsdon’s 25 years as chairman. Neill Bonham, a former chairman, recounted the setting up of the Conservation Society and the problems that had to be faced.

Our secretary, Jan Morland, has extracted some interesting notes from Minute Book Number One dated May 1971 to May 1981.

Tuesday 18 May 1971 — First meeting, held at Preston Manor, with Dr Malin Boyd in the chair; 17 people present (8 apologies including Stephen and Margot Morland), all names listed. The motion to form Glastonbury Conservation Society is proposed by E. Jackson-Stevens and seconded by E. Evans — letter of protest against demolition of Crown Hotel.

6 July 1971 — First public meeting, in Small Hall of Town Hall — president Harry Scott Stokes, secretary Pen Evans, treasurer Patrick Smith; committee Dr Boyd, Anne Hepworth, Jean Pike, Stephen Morland, Barry Hudson, Nigel Bond, Colonel Gould, C. Hamilton Miller. Others present (whose comments are recorded) include Humphrey Morland, Edith Rice, Richard Clark, Barry Hudson, Barry Tate, Nigel Bond, Robin Townhill, Susan Openshaw, S.K. Chapman, Bill Knight, Dick Green, Jack Hepworth and Neill Bonham. Subs 50p. Visiting speakers are Mr Phillips and R.R. Henshaw of CPRE.

6 October 1971 — Second public meeting and AGM, Small Hall — Dr Boyd in the chair and Pen Evans secretary; the society has 42 members. Same officers elected, Dr Boyd chairman. This is a very interesting meeting, with discussion about turning the Abbey Barn into a museum — Colonel Gould promises to supply geese for the green. Jan Morland also present. John Brunsdon comments on the Abbey wall, St John’s pinnacles and possible pedestrian precinct in the middle of the town.

14 January 1972 — Committee meeting. Neill Bonham asked to serve on the committee. Discuss proposed bypass from Edgarley and inner relief road — necessity of saving Chindit House — merits of railway bypass but “no chance of being followed up for many years.”

24 April 1972 — Committee meeting at Dr Boyd’s home. Subject for next public meeting discussed; trees could be the theme for 1973 (Year of the Tree). Would like to produce newsletter.

12 October 1972 — Harry Scott Stokes reads tribute to Dr Boyd, proposes Stephen Morland as chairman for the meeting. Colonel Gould complains about hippy caravans on Godney Road and Gipsy Lane.

27 November 1972 — AGM in Small Hall — president Harry Scott Stokes, Neill Bonham now chairman, Alderman Edith Rice vice-chairman, secretary Pen Evans, treasurer R.A. Davis. Committee: Colonel Gould, C. Hamilton Miller, A.J. Hepworth, Barry Hudson, Stephen Morland, Jean Pike (from previous year’s committee), plus John Brunsdon, Bill Knight, Roger Bloomfield. Subs 50p (75p for man and wife, 25p junior members). [Mr Hamilton Miller, a solicitor, town councillor and former mayor, remained loyal to the society throughout subsequent disputes.]

24 July 1973 — Committee meeting at Brue View, Neill Bonham in the chair. Jean Pike reports members felt out of touch with the committee and agrees to write a monthly newsletter. Following resignation of Edith Rice, John Brunsdon is appointed vice-chairman. Agreed that the society should rectify its frequent negative pronouncements by commending good developments at every public meeting. Discuss St John’s Church tower appeal and objection by borough surveyor Stan King to tree-planting on the Thorndun estate and carparks — “a truce has now been reached.” Also possibility of setting up a housing association for Summerhouse Orchard terrace.

31 October 1973 — Committee meeting at Brue View, setting up steering committee for housing association. Meeting decides that “a report should be produced on what Glastonbury Conservation Society had done and why it hadn’t done what it hadn’t done.”

21 November 1973 — Committee discusses housing association: formation, feasibility study and remedial work would cost nearly £200.

5 December 1973 — AGM. Short dedication by Harry Scott Stokes for Colonel Gould. Barry Hudson, chairman of tree committee, reports plans to plant 43 trees costing £200 to £250:  on the grass verge of Thorndun estate, in the George Street [St John’s] carpark and paved area near west door of church, and around Lamb Inn carpark. Stephen Morland president, Neill Bonham chairman, John Brunsdon vice-chairman, Pen Evans secretary, Mrs C. Smith minute secretary, Mr D. Davies treasurer; committee Roger Bloomfield, Jack Hepworth, Barry Hudson, Bill Knight, Jean Pike, Vic Jones. His worship the mayor (Humphrey Morland) wishes to raise three points: a proposal to extend Dod Lane to the lane by Thatched Cottage and Preston Manor; a meeting place for the Town Band; a proposal to lower the crenellated wall near the Abbey Barn. He answers Jean Pike that [town and Mendip] councils are at loggerheads about Conservation area. John Brunsdon comments on ugly aspect of Tor School House, which has been spot-listed [but damaged by careless demolition of the seminary building]. Harry Scott Stokes thanks the chairman and adds by way of encouragement: “Beware when all men praise you.”

14 October 1977 — AGM at the Town Hall — Stephen Morland president, John Brunsdon chairman, Neill Bonham vice-chairman, Jack Hepworth treasurer, Barry Matthews secretary; committee Dennis Allen, David Charles, Christopher Cooper, Svetlana Cooper, Martin Godfrey, Barry Hudson, Anne Jevons, David Jevons, Bill Knight, Vera Matthews, Margot Morland, Jan Morland, John Morland; Jean Pike co-opted during the year. Membership was 155; 300 October newsletters to be printed. Concern that “Betrothal Couple” sculpture not yet renovated. Barry Hudson reported on tree-planting in the Abbey Barn grounds, at Coldharbour Bridge and on land between Actis estate and Cowbridge.

6 January 1978 — Committee meeting at The Hermitage. Owing to disappointing attendance at public meeting entitled “The Somerset Levels” on 2 December, future public meetings will be held in conjunction with Friends of Abbey Barn. Present membership only 25; print 300 copies of January newsletter.

10 March 1978 — Treasurer reports 66 paid-up members and £154 current balance. 1,000 newsletters to be printed, insert surplus copies with Saturday and Sunday newspapers. John Brunsdon has discussed Civic Trust colour scheme for the High Street [a successful 1950s scheme subsequently abandoned] with Marion Meek [Mendip’s first conservation officer]. Print 1,000 copies of Town Trail for £75 and charge 10p per copy. Lengthy comments on Local Plan.

7 April 1978 — Committee meeting. Chestnut tree commemorating Colonel Gould planted in the Abbey grounds. Bill Knight and Neill Bonham still sifting through old photos. Mendip has approved an award for restoration work on the Betrothal Couple [Helene Koppejan was a generous subscriber]. Discussed widening entrance to Silver Street. Town Trail now costing £100, charge 25p. Concern over footpath between Wick Hollow and Old Wells Road — John Brunsdon to discuss again with divisional highways surveyor [Peter Parrot].

19 May 1978 — Mendip granting £5,000 to plant trees in the district, Countryside Commission matching it, parish councils and amenity societies to propose sites.

30 June 1978 — Trees subcommittee plans autumn planting on 19 November, comprehensive list of sites for tree-planting in Glastonbury. Membership now 165.

30 August 1978 — Committee discusses lias slabs in Bovetown and suggestion of moving station building to St John’s carpark. Miss Meek intends to apply for Outstanding Conservation Area status for Glastonbury in next two years. It is now thought that any pedestrianisation should follow construction of relief road; railway route is now favoured but work will not start for 15 years.

11 October 1978 — AGM at the Town Hall, 25 members present. Footpaths booklet continues to sell well. David Charles has taken over from Barry Hudson as chairman of trees subcommittee. Help needed with clearance of footpaths and repair of stiles. Discuss resiting horse trough at Abbey Barn. Newsletter receiving wide publicity. Stephen Morland president, John Brunsdon chairman, Neill Bonham vice-chairman, Jack Hepworth treasurer, Barry Matthews secretary; committee Dennis Allen, Dawn Bonham, David Charles, Martin Godfrey, Anne Jevons, David Jevons, Bill Knight, Vera Matthews, John Morland, Jan Morland, Margot Morland, Jean Pike. The meeting concludes with a reading from Let’s Walk Around Glastonbury in memory of its author, the late Alan Tarbat, and a slide show loaned by Marion Meek of buildings of interest in Glastonbury. (Meeting is comprehensively reported and includes the first recorded treasurer’s report.)


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