, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Street village, that is. (It prides itself on being a village, despite being bigger than the town of Glastonbury to its north, on the other side of the River Brue.)

On Saturday (14th May) I was invited by my friend Liz, Somerset County and Mendip District Councillor, who lives in Street, to the unveiling of some murals in the Library Gardens, a small green space on Street’s High Street. (How did Street get its name? “The place-name ‘Street’ is first attested in Anglo-Saxon charters from 725 and 971, where it appears as Stret. It appears as Strete juxta Glastone in a charter from 1330 formerly in the British Museum. The word is the Old English straet meaning ‘Roman road’.”) The Wikipedia article on Street, while needing a bit of an update, has a lot of interesting background information.

The murals were commissioned by Street Parish Council, working in partnership with Mendip District Council (to merge, in a year’s time, along with Somerset’s three other district councils, and with Somerset County Council, to become a new unitary authority called Somerset Council) and Street Library Trust. They were painted by local artist Jonathan Minshull.

When Laura Wolfers, Chair of Street Parish Council, reached out to shake my hand, I realised that this was the first time I had shaken anyone’s hand since February 2020. Whereas in March of that year, I had declined to do so several times, with explanation, it would now have been very awkward to do so, although I am still being very cautious. And I have to admit, it felt good, alongside feelings of worried hesitancy. She didn’t seem to take it amiss when I then took a photograph of her chest, in order to capture Street’s ichthyosaur emblem (since 1894) at the base of her Chairman’s chain. (A parish council does not have a mayor.)

Here she is introducing the artist.

Among the many people taking photographs was her son.

And here are the murals. The captions are as provided in a handout.

“This panel represents the shoemaking process during Edwardian times inside the old C & J Clark’s factory buildings in Street, around 1900-1910.”

“This scene shows summer hay harvesting in the meadows to the south of the Clark’s factory buildings in Street in Victorian times around1860-1880.”

“The image shows the discovery of the ichthyosaur fossil specimens at one of the Street ‘blue lias’ limestone quarries in the 1850s. Here some discoveries have been dragged to near the quarry entrance ready for transportation to the recently started Clark’s collection and a lady from the village has brought her daughter to see the fascinating finds.”

Liz unveiled the fourth:

“This panorama shows the manual process of peat extraction from the levels around Street at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, before mechanisation. The peat was cut into blocks calles ‘”mumps” or “turves” and stacked to dry in tower-like formations called “ruckles”, before transportation by horse and cart.”

There were some very short speeches, including by the artist.

While thanking friends and relatives for posing as the figures in the pictures, he said it was as well that one such, who appeared in each mural, was not there, as he was rather naughty. He was referring to his dog, Stanley.

Liz, who had been very much involved in finding the finance, also was invited to speak.

[Later edit: 33-minute background video on the making, hanging and unveiling of the murals here.]

People hung around chatting to each other, as they do on these occasions, enjoying the lovely sunshine. Then five of us went for coffee and cake in the Crispin Centre’s café.

Liz had collected me from my home in Glastonbury, and volunteered to take me back, but I had already decided that I was going to walk, following the River Brue for much of the way. I had to go along the pavement of a main road for about ten minutes.

Part of Clark’s 19th century building, also seen in the second mural. It is flying the Somerset flag.
Like so many buildings in Street, and wider in Somerset, the Bear Inn is built in Blue Lias limestone.

After a short while, I was able to see my destination, by looking to my right.

Still on the road, and having crossed this rhyne, I had thought possibly to cut diagonally across to the Brue, but an electric fence redirected me.

But in due course I was able to reach the river. What a pleasure to walk among all those buttercups!

I reached the river.

Not buttercups here, but oil seed rape,
and comfrey
Many specimens of these creatures had been flying around for a while, and after extensive research, I think they are probably alderflies, of which I had never previously heard. They fly for just a few weeks each year.
Clyce Hole (or Clyse Hole, depending on which Environment Agency panel you read), a water level measuring station

The River Brue was severely canalised, and indeed its channel to the sea redirected, in mediaeval times, and it shows from here on.

This little fella flew on to the branch, and just stayed there while I cautiously moved past him.

Being south of the Brue, I was still in Street, and this was my view southwards, with the lowest range of hills in Somerset, the Poldens, in the distance.

Not the most exciting bridge, Cow Bridge, circa 1930, of reinforced concrete with stone piers. Could one claim that it is art deco?

Anyway, it was time for me to cross and leave the Brue, and continue on to a rather busy main road. But I leant on the parapet contemplating upstream for a bit,

along with my neighbour, Terry, who I had just bumped into here. He was just out to take photos of buttercups.

Together we watched a rather unusual sight go by, after which I set off for the last, and easily the least interesting, leg of my walk.

They and I were rather a nuisance to the quite heavy traffic in each direction… no pavement…

After five minutes more I came to my turning off the main road. Taking the stile would have enabled me to continue on grass for about 100 yards/90 metres or so, but

I took advantage of a recently installed (local elections anyone?) barrier, the forerunner of a cycle lane to be created, in place of an unofficial traveller encampment.

Door to door it had been an hour, which would have been more like 45 minutes had I not stopped for various reasons on the way. A very pleasant walk indeed, in ideal weather, following a happy occasion for Street residents and visitors.