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

The society has so far planted 51,800 trees in and around Glastonbury. Tree-planting volunteers always welcome. Contact Mike Smyth, 075 3324 0620.

Jim Nagel Tribute

Jim Nagel RIP, July 29th 1944 - March 21st 2020 Jim was born and grew up in Canada, taking a degree in Mathematics and German at the University of Waterloo, also meeting Viola during those years. He remained after graduation as editor of the university paper, followed by beginning a journalism career at the local newspaper, the Kitchener Waterloo Record.

He arrived in England in 1970 and was captivated by Glastonbury, commenting "Avalon is the heart: the crossroads of imagination, a place where young see visions and old dream dreams". He was a driving force in the establishment of a Christian community project, initially as summer camps but developing into a full-time operation, which lasted for a decade, supporting himself in a variety of local and London jobs. Marriage to Viola came in 1982, and the birth of sons Christopher and Bartholomew followed. Employment as editor or writer for the Somerset County Gazette, The Times, Church Times, Amstrad Action, Computer Shopper and Archive kept him busy, and in 1991 he founded Abbey Press which involved him in a wide range of editorial and publishing activities.

As the years passed Jim became ever more involved in the activities of Glastonbury — including membership of the Conservation Society and production of the newsletter, as well as creating our website with its comprehensive archive of newsletter material produced over the years. Jim was an active member of St. John’s Church. He served on the PCC, joined the choir and, in early years, produced their newsletter. Latterly, he assisted with the church website. Jim was also part of the local drama scene.

Jim was deeply imbued with the spirit of Glastonbury in a way which can perhaps happen only to those who are not actually born or grew up there. He had a deep interest and understanding not only of the physical structure of the place but also of the myths and spirituality surrounding it and the effect these had on people, whether residents or visitors to it. Consequently, in his own modest way, he was a mine of information on various aspects of the town, for which he cared very deeply. The Conservation Society Newsletter, which he edited for many years, combined with the website, bear abundant testimony to these attributes — which as a contributor one took very much for granted and with the comforting realisation that Jim knew what needed to be done — especially in the field of computer related matters. Here, as in so many other aspects, Jim was always modest about his abilities and knowledge, and it is only now that he is no longer with us that we realise how much his efforts underpinned our activities and presence.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Jim continued to undertake his various roles as far as possible, and produced the previous Conservation Society Newsletter in his typical format earlier this year, which was much applauded at the time, and seen as a return to normality just as a world pandemic was to make 'normality' an untouchable concept. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude, and working with him over many years, if only in a small way, was indeed a great pleasure.

To read more tributes please see the latest newsletter which can be downloaded here

Glastonbury chosen for potential £25m in Town Deal plan

Jim Nagel

Glastonbury is one of the 100 towns in Britain listed in the government’s plan to regenerate town centres, boost business and improve infrastructure. For each town £25 million is on offer; the town must present viable and ambitious schemes.

“But time is not on our side,” said Ian Tucker, the town council’s delegate on the Town Deal board. “We must put together a plan by the end of July. People really need to think about what we could take forward to the Town Deal board.”

A special meeting of the town council on Tuesday March 3 will work on “new out-of-the-box thinking.”

Ian said: “The reason Glastonbury has got the money is that we have one of the most deprived wards in the country. So whatever we bring forward has to make a difference for us all.

“In Glastonbury we tend to do things differently from other parts of the country. Something green would accord with the new mood in the land. What we need people to come forward with are schemes that are self-sustaining, or — even better — that generate a surplus that could be reinvested in the town.”

The Town Deal board here will have 12 to 15 seats, most of them non-Glastonians. “So it seems to me it’s going to have to be Glastonbury people that come up with ideas,” Ian said.

Statutory bodies each have a seat — district and county councils, Member of Parliament, the Heart of Southwest Local Enterprise Partnership, education (Katie Quinn, principal of Strode College), and Department of Work and Pensions (Lucy Martin). Current advertisements invite business representatives — youth, health, environmental (deadline noon Feb 21).

Glastonians so far are Ian Tucker, Jill Barker (Chamber of Commerce chair) and Jacqueline Cross (NHS).

The chairman is yet to be chosen. James Heappey MP as vice-chairman meanwhile holds the reins. The chairman has to be a businessman. Various people are encouraging Ian Tucker to stand.

Bridgwater is the only other Somerset town on the Nov 1 government list of 100. Like Glastonbury, Bridgwater lost its traditional employment in the 1980s.

Bishop’s Barn at Wells is next project for preservation trust

A centuries-old stone building by a grassy lawn. A clear sky is above.
The Bishop’s Barn is a 15th-century tithe barn given to the city of Wells 130 years ago for the use of citizens.

The Somerset Building Preservation Trust — of which our society is a corporate member — is trying to find ways to increase the community use of the historic Bishop’s Barn, in Silver Street, Wells. It is listed Grade I.

A number of studies have been carried out with SBPT and partner organizations, and these are now being considered by the Wells Recreation Ground Trust.

Mendip District Council is the sole trustee of the Bishop’s Barn; see their article on the subject. There is also a Wikipedia article about it.

The SBPT’s September newsletter can be downloaded from its website.

John Brunsdon, our society’s president, has stepped down from the SBPT committee; he was a founding member. At its annual general meeting on October 8, the SBPT chairman, Russell Lillford, thanked Mr Brunsdon “wholeheartedly” for the work he has done for the trust over many years.