Baltonsborough – past, present and future

PUBLISHED: 17:46 14 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:21 20 February 2013

Baltonsborough Church is names after St Dunstan

Baltonsborough Church is names after St Dunstan

Community facilities, footpaths and orchards – just some of the things held dear by people in this Somerset village

Baltonsborough past, present and future

Community facilities, footpaths and orchards just some of the things held dear by people in this Somerset village

Words by: Sarah Ford

The villagers of Baltonsborough near Glastonbury say they are eager to preserve their cherished history, walks and views. And 99 per cent of those who took part in a recent survey are also passionate about retaining the much loved post office stores.
The views and opinions of people living in this lively Somerset parish alongside the river Brue were revealed earlier this year when The Baltonsborough Community Led Plan was produced following a village wide survey. This showed that most respondents wanted more to be done to help preserve and maintain the village orchards and over 90 per cent would prefer that any new properties are built in keeping with this traditional rural spot. A number of people also called for more affordable starter homes for local and younger people. The footpaths, bridleways and droves are a significant part of the village experience, 63% use them daily or several times a week.
Two or three important things came out of the survey, says Robert Peto who was a committee member of the community led plan working group. People are uncomfortable with significant development they would like it to be gradual and controlled - and there was also an issue about retaining open spaces. The shop, the pub and community facilities were at the top of peoples agenda.

The people here are just so special

The village may now take their findings further and the survey could be the first step towards the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan under the Localism Act a new community right that empowers parish councils and communities to shape the development of their local area.
In the meantime, the working group has recommended that their research be used by Baltonsborough Parish Council and Mendip District Council to help guide decisions when considering planning applications within the village.

Farming traditions

The Clapp family has been farming in Somerset since at least 1538 and arrived in Baltonsborough in 1850 as dairy farmers. In 1959 the family began to experiment in cheese making and today Brue Valley Farms award winning cheese and butter can be found nationwide.
After researching her husbands family, Louise Clapp wrote a book on the history of the village called Baltonsborough: The Past Behind the Present. You can still see vestiges of the medieval field system, says Louise, whose book shows that in the agricultural survey of 1941 there were 44 farms in the village compared to five today. Brue Valley Farms has recently expanded to produce a wider range of cheeses.

Village pageant

St Dunstan is said to have been born in Baltonsborough in the 10th century and the parish church is dedicated him. A reformer of the church and state and an advisor to kings, Dunstan was Abbot of Glastonbury and Archbishop of Canterbury.
Scenes from his life were played out in a St Dunstan Pageant written by Sue Peto and performed as street theatre in the village. Sue, who has a background in TV and theatre, lives at Tilham Farm, where a barn conversion is used for community fund raising events.
My work was very much London-based and my husband thought he would never get me out but the people here are just so special, says Sue, who is a school governor.

A singing village

The Brue Boys - a choir for men who want to sing - was formed in January 2007 by Jennifer Martin.
Named after the River Brue which winds through the villages and towns where its members live, the choir has a wide repertoire from folk songs to music from the shows. One of its main aims is raising money for good causes such as four local schools, including Baltonsborough Primary. There are more than 40 members but not all of them can read music or have any previous experience at performing.
I want the highest possible quality of music but if a man wants to sing I would never turn him away, says Jennifer, who also runs the church choir. Our accompanist is the very talented Carolyn Young and the sound The Brue Boys make is lovely and, although unrefined, is very rich and manly. After we practise on a Monday evening a sizeable bunch usually retire to The Greyhound pub! For more details e-mail or visit

Friendly service

The post office stores are run by Joan Birch who moved to the village in 1968 when she got married. Shop customers come in from surrounding areas like West Bradley, Lottisham and West Pennard.
We cater for a wide area so its a busy shop, says Joan. We try to promote as much local produce as we can such as cheese, butter and meat.

Busy Baltonsborough

From allotments to zumba dancing, and from Grumpy Old Mens Breakfasts to Ladies who Lunch, Baltonsborough has a club to suit most tastes. The main event of the year is the Village Show, run by the Horticultural Society, while the Baltonsborough Players stage regular productions.
Baltonsborough Community Association raises money for local good causes and TABS provides transport for those who have none of their own.

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