Reprinted fromNewsletter 50, dated 1988

The society’s achievements 1971–1988

A 3-storey building painted a cream colour, with a banner showing the word “Backpackers”. Hanging from four places on the building are flower baskets. To the left, slightly more towards the foreground, is the Market Cross monument. To the right, in the foreground, a man with short hair wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, and brown shoes stands facing the camera. He is holding up some papers in his right hand. Above him, closer to the camera, are some flowers.

The Crown stands! In 1997 it became the Backpackers hostel. Its new owner, Ben Butterell, is waving his Conservation Society membership form. Photo by Jim Nagel.


The society was founded on May 18 when interested parties hastily assembled so that a Glastonbury Conservation Society could be officially formed. Immediately a letter of objection was sent to County Hall, within the prescribed time limit, protesting against the proposed demolition of the Crown Hotel and the erection of a retail shop on the site.


Arising from the proposed demolition of the Crown Hotel, it was realized that many other buildings in Glastonbury were also at risk. So members of the newly formed society spot-listed buildings they considered important. The Department of the Environment was concerned by the number of spot-listings. Consequently, an inspector spent ten weeks in the town compiling a new statutory list. This initiative brought the society into disrepute with the Glastonbury Borough Council of the day. The council had already resisted attempts by the county council to designate a Conservation Area in Glastonbury.


The society started work on footpath clearance and tree-planting. During this time a better relationship was built with the newly formed Town council (in 1973 the old Glastonbury Borough Council was abolished in the government's reorganization of local authorities; most of its powers went to the new Mendip District Council). The society actually took over the Town council’s responsibilities for tree-planting and footpath maintenance. For the footpath work, the society receives the Town council’s allocation of monies for footpath maintenance under the “Parish Scheme”. In 1988 the allocation was £50.


In November, newsletter number 1 was published.

Map of the Glastonbury Conservation Area showing a large area including the town centre, abbey ruins, and tor, shaded in green.

The Conservation area — shaded green on this map — was finally established in 1976. It was extended in 1991 to include the Tor and Bushy Coombe.


The centre of Glastonbury was designated a Conservation Area by Mendip District Council, the successor to the borough council, after much lobbying of the chief planning officer by the society. Mendip had been instructed by County to try to establish the Conservation Area. The district council, however, had few funds available for the project. So, when the area (a smaller area than originally proposed by County) was designated, there were no resources for the publication of an introductory explanatory document of aims and objectives.

Some of the town’s present problems [this was written in 1988 — Ed.] can be attributed to this lack of documentation because developers and planners have no set of guidelines to which they can refer. Over the years the society has tried to compensate for this lack of documentation by publishing, in the quarterly newsletter, guidelines produced for other Conservation Areas.


Glastonbury Footpath Walks by John Brunsdon on sale.


Annual footpath clearance and tree-planting schemes. John Brunsdon became chairman.


Glastonbury Town Trail by Neill Bonham (chairman 1972–77) was published.


Annual footpath clearance and tree-planting schemes.


Mendip District Council’s conservation officer achieved Outstanding Conservation Area status for the centre of Glastonbury.


Glastonbury Town Trail revised by Neill Bonham.


Annual footpath clearance and tree-planting schemes.

A railway canopy stands out-of-place in a car park. The canopy is painted in a cream colour. The lower halves of the pillars holding it up are green. Cars are parked beneath it, with more in the foreground outside of its shelter. Some trees are visible, and behind the canopy is a long stone wall. The sky is blue and almost clear. In the left, in the background, some red-brick houses can be seen. A flock of birds flies across the foreground of the photo.

Martin Godfrey’s idea to move the canopy from the disused railway station to the main carpark in the centre of town won a 1984 award for the Conservation Society. It now provides shelter for the weekly market stalls, not to mention visual relief from the acres of asphalt desert. Photo by Jim Nagel, 2001.


Pride of Place Competition: second prize awarded to the society by the Civic Trust, David Knightly Charitable Trust, for the society’s proposals for the restoration and re-siting of the canopy from the old railway station to St John’s carpark. The project was originally the idea of Martin Godfrey (committee member 1975–79).


For the first national Environment Week, the society mounted an exhibition of its work in an empty local shop.


Annual footpath clearance and tree-planting schemes.


This is Glastonbury, a collection of photographs by Kevin Redpath (committee member 1984–87) with comments by Neill Bonham. An exhibition associated with this publication was mounted in the Somerset Rural Life Musetum for a month prior to Environment Week.


European Year of the Environment. The society alerted all organizations in Glastonbury to the significance of this year and then acted as coordinator of their projects. The society’s projects:


European Year of the Environment in Somerset 1987–88. Environmental Project Competition. Second Prize in the Environmental Organizations category was awarded to the society for its project of replacing 50 stiles in the Glastonbury footpath network. Newsletter 49 was published in October.

On October 15, the Mayor of Glastonbury organized an Environment Exhibition in the Town Hall. The society’s stand incorporated a full-scale stile and kissing-gate. Behind these, photographs of the work of the society were displayed, together with press cuttings and publications.

Summerhouse Orchard Housing Association: During the 1970s the society formed this association with a view to the practicality of restoring derelict cottages. The association, however, functioned separately from the society. The Summerhouse Orchard terrace was owned by the Methodist Church and had had a closing order served on it. The association purchased the terrace with an interest-free loan from Stephen Morland, the society’s president since 1975. The renovation of the terrace was successfully accomplished.

The cottages were sold individually and have proved very popular as small-unit housing. The association was disbanded because it was unable to compete with modern-day developers.