Reprinted from Newsletter 125, dated 2008 June

Pianos, Boots and fruits join witches in the High Street

Jim Nagel

For most towns, the opening of two new witchcraft shops in the High Street would be remarkable. But in Glastonbury, it’s news that among nearly the dozen new shops to open in the High Street so far this year are a piano showroom and a Boots.

Various pianos in a shop interior.

Since neither grands nor uprights use walls, Piano Gallery also displays local art.

Piano Gallery, showing 20 pianos ranging from £895 to £11,000, is an offshoot of Pianoforte Ltd in Faringdon, near Swindon. The same people owned Bristol Piano Company, but found many of its customers came from deeper southwest so decided to relocate it to Glastonbury, in the former Ayles furniture shop, a Georgian building. The directors, Steve and Lesley Dash, had already moved to Benedict Street.

Boots last had a branch here in the 1960s. As a result of the merger with Alliance chemists, it is now the only national chain store in Glastonbury other than Woolworths.

A little way up is Floral Touch, owned by Katie Phillips of Compton Dundon. The shop previously housed Back to Back, hairdressers who moved to larger premises a few doors up.

A painting of a greengrocer shop front. Its sign says “fruition greengrocer”. I bicycle is parked outside. A man with a beard stands painting on an easel, next to a bicycle, attached to which is a lot of luggage.

Fruition commissioned Paul the cycling watercolourist. Here he is at work, and his produce.

Across the road, Fruition has “fruit and vegetables as fresh, as local and as organic as we can source them”. Even the wicker display baskets are locally made. The proprietor is Tim Bates, who organizes literary events for the Bruton Festival of Arts. He loves food and says it’s important to reinvent oneself every few years: when Top of the Crops came on the market, he took it as his next challenge.

Local organic food is also the theme of La Lune, the café opened by Loretta Garner, from Street. Astrology is another theme: order your chart with your mocha. She had the old Four Seasons second-hand leather shop gutted and rebuilt, after the previous owner, Malcolm Slocombe, had let it decay for decades. In the 1950s it was the Rose and Crown pub.

A shop interior. One woman dressed in purple sits behind the counter and talks on the phone. Another woman stands holding pink balloons. In the display of the counter are various pieces of jewellery.

Jade Philpott (on phone) and Maya Pinder on Lilith’s opening day. Theo Ginn it is not!

Two doors down, Lilith opened on May Day in the former Theo T. Ginn traditional menswear shop. It’s now “designer clothing, art and exclusive sculpture” on a goddess theme — “You have to go with the local theme,” said the businesswoman owner, Maya Pinder. She is South African by birth, and lives at Wick and Colorado. A few years ago she started the Magick Box, almost next door, but became ill and sold it.

Oak-Apple Day, May 29, was Cat and Cauldron’s grand opening in the former shoe shop in Market Place. It’s a “sister shop” to Witchcraft Ltd (Pixie Tailor) in Benedict Street and the Magick Box, all run by Liz Williams and Trevor Jones.

A narrow shop exterior. The shop's sign
says “Julian the Jeweller”

Opposite St John’s church, Julian the Jeweller has given the town’s smallest shop a thorough makeover.

In Church Lane, alongside St John’s churchyard, is the new Glastonbury Pilgrim Reception Centre, staffed by volunteers to help the many visitors who come here not just as tourists. The coordinator is Morgana West, and the telephone is 83 5572.

And then, though not in the High Street, the former Kwiksave-Somerfield-Kwiksave-Somerfield supermarket is now Proper Job, a super-£1-type store (not just do-it-yourself items) that still stocks milk for the convenience of mums collecting kids from nearby schools. It’s number 4 in a chain of Proper Jobs, head office Weston-super-Mare.