Wednesday 19th June 2013

Weston guided walk led by Chris Richards

<b> Grove Park Memorial</b>
Grove Park Memorial

For the first event in our summer programme Chris Richards took us on a guided tour of Weston. At almost every turn it seems there is a story to be told and behind every Edwardian property a secret is concealed. But Chris knows them all!

It is amazing how many burials there are scattered around Weston. Mostly of Iron Age date it seems that they must be associated with Worlebury Hillfort, which guards the northern limit of the town.

Beginning in Grove Park, which strangely seems to have no known burials, we traced a semi-circle around it by way of the College, the Royal Crescent, Park Place, Upper Church Road and back down to the Boulevard by way of south Side and Stafford place. On the way Chris must have pointed out over a dozen known burial sites often containing multiple graves, though there is nothing to see today.

The route then took us to Montpelier, where we walked up to Christ Church. This occupies a site on the southern most spur jutting out from Worlebury Hill and as such must always have had extra significance. Sure enough it is a focal point for another set of prehistoric burials and striking finds, including some of the Bronze Age, stretching down to the Ashcombe Cemetery.

But Chris's interest ran beyond the archaeology to the archaeologists themselves. As we progressed he pointed out the places where notable Weston figures had worked and resided. We learned of that indefatigable pair of National Serviceman Sergeant Rogers and Corporal Linington. We saw,the.Rectory where George Cumberland lived - artist and geologist and the first draw a plan of Worlebury. We paused at the Old Library and Chris recounted his own early interest and having the pleasure of working there with David Tomalin, Jane Evans and Professor Christopher Tilley who is now a major figure of British Archaeology, currently Professor at University College, London.

We stood on the corner of Arundell Road and gazed at the house of Frederick Bligh Bond, who in the early years of-the last century had been the excavator of Glastonbury Abbey, a post from which he was finally dismissed because of his Spiritualist convictions and consequent reliance on the voices of long-dead monks to direct his trowel. And finally we fetched up at the former residence of Charles Dymond, civil engineer turned archaeologist whose monograph on Worlebury was one of the first and one of the best of its, kind. Not for him messages from beyond the grave but the accomplished use of the prismatic compass.

Thanks to Chris for a splendid tour. His sense of place and delight in his own locality is inspirational.

Peter Johnson