Church of the Holy Trinity, Street
This is slightly raised ground beside the Somerset Levels. There is evidence of Roman occupation here but the name of the village is later. Throughout the Middle Ages the village was dominated by Glastonbury Abbey, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and its name comes from a 12th-century causeway from Glastonbury which was built to transport local blue lias stone from what is now Street to rebuild the Abbey. Earlier its name was recorded as Lantokay and Lega.
Quakers had become established in Street by the mid 17th century and one Quaker family, the Clarks, started a business in sheepskin rugs, woollen slippers and, later, boots and shoes: this became C&J Clark, now Britain's largest and most famous shoe company. Clarks still has its headquarters in Street, and while shoes are no longer manufactured there, redundant factory buildings were converted in 1993 to form Clarks Village, the first purpose-built factory outlet in the United Kingdom. The Shoe Museum provides information about the history of Clarks and footwear manufacture in general.
The Clark family's former mansion and its estate at the edge of the town are now owned by Millfield School, an independent co-educational boarding school. Street is also home to Crispin School and Strode College.
The River Brue marks the boundary with Glastonbury, to the north of Street. Before the draiage of the Levels from the Middle Ages, the Brue formed a broad lake just south of the hilly ground on which Glastonbury stands. Arthurian legend tells of the Lady of the Lake who rose from the waters with Excalaber, and to whome Sir Bedivere cast Excalaber back after Arthur's death: those who insist on chaining romantic legend to real places like to nominate this place as the home of the Lady of the Lake.
Before the 13th century, the direct route to the sea at Highbridge was blocked by gravel banks and peat near Westhay. The course of the river partially encircled Glastonbury from the south, around the western side (through Beckery), and then north through the Panborough-Bleadney gap in the Wedmore-Wookey Hills, to join the River Axe just north of Bleadney. This route made it difficult for the servants of Glastonbury Abbey to transport produce from their outlying estates to the Abbey, and when the valley of the River Axe was in flood it backed up to flood Glastonbury itself, so at some time between 1230 and 1250, a new channel was dug to divert the river.
Street Heath is a Nature reserve, managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust, and has outstanding examples of communities which were once common on the Somerset Levels. The vegetation consists of wet and dry heath, species-rich bog and carr woodland, with transitions between all these habitats.
Merriman Park is named after Nathaniel James Merriman, who was Curate then Vicar of Street, until he emigrated to South Africa. He rose to become Archdeacon of Grahamstown then Dean of Cape Town before being elevated the Episcopate.
About the village
Clarks Village, Britain's first factory outlet, opened in 1993 in Street, on the site of redundant Clarks shoe factory buildings.
To the north of Street is the River Brue, which marks the boundary with Glastonbury. South of Street are the Walton and Ivythorn Hills and East Polden Grasslands biological Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Street has two public swimming pools, one indoor which is part of the Strode complex, and the outdoor lido, Greenbank. Strode Theatre provides a venue for films, exhibitions and live performances. The Parish Church, Holy Trinity, dates from the 14th century and has been designated as a Grade I listed building.
Sharpham Park is a 300-acre historic park, approximately two miles west of Street. The first known reference to it is a grant by King Edwy to Prince Aethelwold in 957. In 1191 Sharpham Park was conferred by Prince John (later King) to the Abbots of Glastonbury, who remained in possession of the park and house until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. From 1539 to 1707 the park was owned by the Duke of Somerset, Sir Edward Seymour; the Thynne family of Longleat, and the family of Sir Henry Gould. Edward Dyer was born here in 1543. The house is now a private residence and Grade II* listed building.
Ivythorn Manor on Pages Hill was a mediæval monastic house. It was rebuilt in 1488 for Abbot John Selwood of Glastonbury Abbey. After the dissolution of the monasteries it became a manor house owned by the Marshall and Sydenham families. Sir John Sydenham added a wing 1578 which was later demolished. By 1834 the house was largely ruined until its restoration around 1904, and a west wing was added in 1938. It is a Grade II* listed building.
The parish church is the Church of the Holy Trinity, which dates from the 14th century but underwent extensive restoration in the 19th century. It has been designated as a Grade I listed building.
The chancel pre-dates the rest of the building, having been built about 1270. The first recorded Rector was John de Hancle in 1304.
In the Domesday Book the village is recorded as Strate, and also Lega ('Leigh', meaning 'meadow'). The centre of Street is where Lower Leigh hamlet was, and the road called Middle Leigh and the community called Overleigh are to the south of the village. In the 12th century, a causeway from Glastonbury was built to transport stone from what is now Street for rebuilding Glastonbury Abbey after a fire. The causeway is about 100 yards north of a Roman road.
Quarries of the local blue lias stone were worked from as early as the 12th century to the end of the 19th century. Fossils discovered in the lias include many ichthyosaurs, one of which has been adopted as the badge of Street. There is a display of Street fossils in the Natural History Museum in London.
The churchyard of the Parish Church has yielded one Iron Age coin, however the origin and significance is unclear. A number of Roman pottery fragments, now in the Museum of Somerset. Remains of Roman villas exist on the south edge of Street near Marshalls Elm and Ivythorn. Buried remains of a Roman road were excavated in the early 20th century on the flood-plain of the river Brue between Glastonbury and Street. The parish churchyard is on the first flood-free ground near the river Brue and was probably the first land to be inhabited.
C. and J. Clark Ltd
The Religious Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers, established itself here in the mid 17th century, and among the close-knit group of Quaker families were the Clarks: Cyrus started a business in sheepskin rugs, later joined by his brother James, who introduced the production of woollen slippers and, later, boots and shoes. Under James's son, William, the business flourished, but most of the profits were ploughed back into employee welfare, housing and education.
C&J Clark ('Clarks') has become Britain's biggest shoemakler and it still has its headquarters in Street, behind a frontage which includes the clock tower and water tower, Dhoes are no longer manufactured in Street however. Instead, in 1993, redundant factory buildings were converted to form Clarks Village, the first purpose-built factory outlet in the United Kingdom. Despite strong concerns being voiced by local retailers at the time, the retail outlets have not led to a demise of the existing shops. The Shoe Museum provides information about the history of Clarks and footwear manufacture in general, and a selection of shop display showcards from the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s, and television advertisements.
The Clark family mansion and its estate at the edge of the village are now owned by Millfield School. The company, through the Society of Friends, also had its own small sanatorium and convalescent home on Ivythorn Hill overlooking the town. In 1931, this Swiss chalet style|chalet style building was leased to the Youth Hostel Association and became the first youth hostel in Somerset. It is still used for this purpose.
Sport and leisure
- Football: Street FC
- Two public swimming pools (one indoor and one outdoor)
Strode Theatre, linked to the Crispin School and Strode College complex, is now the only place to see films, exhibitions and live performances.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Street, Somerset)
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- National Heritage List England no. 1345069: Abbots Sharpham and Sharpham Park Farmhouse (Historic England)
- National Heritage List England no. 1176171: Ivythorn Manor (Historic England)
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