GLASTONBURY CONSERVATION SOCIETY

Published on the website only, around the time of Newsletter 148 dated 2018 winter

Tribunal markers almost lost to asphalt Jim Nagel

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 October, 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 giving posterity a haphazard lot of piecemeal rear ends.

  At the top end of town, the motleyness of backsides facing the (aptly named!) 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.

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