Reprinted from Newsletter 120, dated 2006 September

Rare finds on the internet auction — and in the Town Hall

Adrian Pearse

An old engraving of a town scene. A wide street is populated by a horse and cart, a horse being ridden by a person, and some scattered people walking. Pavements line the road, on which more people walk. Some of the people are wearing voluminous dresses, and others wear hats. Buildings line the street. On the right is an official-looking building, with metal railings outside. Its ground floor has arched windows or entrances, and the upper floor has tall rectangular windows. The road looks to curve to the right towards the background, at which point there is a tall thin tower, which rises to a point. Behind this is another row ob buildings, one of which is labelled “bank” in all-capitals. Below the engraving are the words “market place & town hall” in neat thin cursive script.

The Market Place engraved about 1840.

I purchased this charming mid-19th-century engraved view of Glastonbury Market Place recently on Ebay, the internet auction site, for 99p. It was originally published in a small booklet of views of Glastonbury, Wells and Shepton Mallet, bound in stiff red card covers.

Complete copies in good condition are very rare if they can now be found at all, and are priced accordingly, but individual views from disbound copies turn up from time to time and can still be secured quite cheaply. Like most material of this kind, however, they are becoming ever more scarce.

Some very interesting items relating to Glastonbury turn up on the online auction — including the original monochrome wash drawing and plan of Abbot Beere’s almshouses off Magdalene Street from the southwest, drawn in 1825 by John Buckler, one of the best architectural illustrators of the period. The southern range was demolished in the 1960s.

A drawing of an old stone building. It is relatively short and wide, and the main visible face is mostly blank other than a large arched door in the centre. The rear end of the building has a steeple. A large tree is to the right of the building. In front of the building is what looks to be a well. To the right of the drawing, as part of the same page, is a plan view of a building, presumably the same one. It is difficult to make out details. The drawing is signed and dated, but the text is too small to read. Below the drawing is a caption written in decorative script which is again hard to make out, though the word “Glastonbury” is prominent.

Buckler’s monochrome wash drawing of the Magdalene Street almshouses in 1825.

The seller in New York had entered this item spelling Glastonbury with two ‘r’s as on the original inscription. Thus it did not appear in the normal listings for the town, where no doubt it would have engendered some interest. Therefore I was able to buy it uncontested for $9.99 (under £6), which, since it was framed and glazed, was less than the postage to the UK!

Readers of newsletter 106 will recall an article on the Bucklers, both John, father and son, and their work at Glastonbury — the main collections of their drawings are now in the Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society collection at Taunton and in the British Library.

Alice Buckton postcard found at Town Hall

A black and white photograph of a group of people in costume. They stand outside a building with an arched entrance and a tiled roof. Most of the people wear head coverings such as turbans and scarves. Their clothing is reminiscent of that found in the Middle East.

Interesting things turn up at the postcard fair in the Town Hall too. In July I found this photograph from the 1920s taken at Chalice Well. On the back is written:

“The whole cast — the greater part of them are the staff at Chalice Well — represents the populace the morning after the entry of the victors into Jerusalem. The little girl in the front is my little grand niece, grand daughter of Jas. Ketch.”

Alice Buckton is clearly seen in the centre — does any reader know the name of the production or the identity of other members of the cast?