Looking forward to a Cary Christmas

PUBLISHED: 17:00 29 October 2013 | UPDATED: 15:48 04 November 2013

Castle Cary's Market House is undergoing renovation work

Castle Cary's Market House is undergoing renovation work


Thanks to the rich, golden stonework and the friendly welcome, it always feels warm in Castle Cary – even in Winter

Preserving history

The museum was created by a group of local people in 1974 in the back room of a baker’s shop. Now housed in the Market House, it is run and manned by volunteers, explains Chairman of the Castle and Cary and District Museum and Preservation Society, Ann Brittain.

Exhibitions include a geology section, (showing that this area of Somerset was once under the sea) and a display on the life of the late Douglas Macmillan MBE, the founder of Macmillan Cancer Support who was born in Ansford and later returned to live in his birthplace.

There’s also an impressive collection of agricultural, industrial and domestic artefacts. The museum reopens again in April. In the meantime, take a look at the following places of interest:

• The Round House Lock-up on Bailey Hill, once used for the temporary detention of miscreants!

• The Horse Pond, which is a fragment of the old castle moat

• All Saints Church

• St Andrew’s Church in Ansford.

A large stone castle stood for 90 years on the hill before being destroyed by King Stephen in AD1153. The person responsible for its creation was probably William Lovel in about 1130. The massive Norman keep was one of the largest in the country, surpassed only by Colchester, Middleham, Dover and the Tower of London. However, nothing now remains above ground of this significant fortress.

Members of the Living History Group have published their fourth book in a series which records the memories, events and people associated with the area, such as John Boyd Textiles Limited who have been weaving horsehair fabrics since 1837.

Ray and Olive Boyer were founder members of the Living History Group in 1996 and Ray was one of the first pupils at the new school at Ansford in 1940.

The idea for a group came to him as he worked in the local tourism office.

“We asked people to bring their pictures and memories to us and it took off from there,” says group secretary Valerie Nicholls who recalls her earliest memory in Castle Cary.

“I was very small when the war started but I do remember the bombing of the station because I was outside playing and I was buddled in under the settee with cushions around me.”

Over the years The Living History Group has staged a variety of events in the town, including a major exhibition of photographs as part of the Millennium. Its latest publication is called More Memories of Castle Cary and Ansford.

Group member Adrian Pearse, who descends from generations of Cary residents says: “If you don’t capture theses memories while you can then they are gone forever.”


Spoilt for choice

The two parishes of Castle Cary and Ansford - often known simply as Cary - may no longer boast a castle but the parishes can still be regarded as jewels in Somerset’s crown.

Lucky enough to have its own railway station Cary lies just off the A371 close to Wincanton.

With its variety of independent shops, plenty of places to eat, plus free parking, Castle Cary is a town that ticks all the boxes for John and Alison Lawrence. Their gifts, clothes and bespoke interiors shops are known as Needful Things.

“It’s a lovely place to live and bring up your kids with everyone pulling together,” says John.

“Castle Cary is a picturesque place and the local stone makes it nice and mellow so even on a grey day it feels warm.

“One of my favourite events is the Cavalcade of Motoring in the Donald Pither Memorial Field during the summer.”


Christmas in Cary

Events in town include the Christmas festival night on 12 December and speciality market days, says Dan Patrick, manager of The George Hotel where there is a new Head Chef.

“Michael Wright has transformed the George’s menu into a stunning modern appreciation of fine food whilst retaining some of the old classics,” says Dan.

Build up an appetite with a walk to the top of Lodge Hill and be rewarded with stunning views over Castle Cary and the surrounding countryside.

The town’s Christmas event promises to be magical, according to Wendy and Andrew Braithwaite-Vaux, owners of Oxford Mill clothing and gift shop.

“All shops are open along with market stalls selling everything from roasted chestnuts to Christmas scented candles and soaps. The shop and cafe windows are decorated with sparkling fairy lights which light up the period buildings, creating a really traditional Christmas atmosphere. “We personally do all of our Christmas shopping in Castle Cary. Why go anywhere else?”


Hidden gem

Step back to the times of cake forks, pressed linen and chiming clocks when you visit Mothers Little Vintage Tea Room and Coffee House. This is Castle Cary’s little secret waiting to be discovered and the attention to 1930s detail is quite remarkable. Book a Ritz style afternoon tea or just pop in for lunch, cake, hot chocolate or some old fashioned cloudy lemonade.


Anniversary celebrations

Wheathill Golf Club, situated three miles west of Castle Cary, celebrated 20 years of play this year. It was constructed in the early nineties by Guy Sudlow, whose family moved to Somerset to farm in 1949.

He recalls: “Some of my earliest memories of Castle Cary are my first school and feeding the swans on the Horse Pond, which is the source of the River Cary that flows around the southern edge of the golf course.”


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