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Buildings of Central Somerset mural

A Grade II Listed Building in Street, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1259 / 51°7'33"N

Longitude: -2.7401 / 2°44'24"W

OS Eastings: 348304

OS Northings: 136556

OS Grid: ST483365

Mapcode National: GBR MJ.99MH

Mapcode Global: VH8B3.GY9Q

Plus Code: 9C3V47G5+9X

Entry Name: Buildings of Central Somerset mural

Listing Date: 20 April 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1442062

Location: Street, Mendip, Somerset, BA16

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Street

Built-Up Area: Street

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

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Summary


A ceramic mural depicting the buildings and natural environment of central Somerset, designed and made by Philippa Threlfall (b.1939), commissioned by C & J Clark Ltd for The Crispin Centre, Street. The buildings of the Crispin Centre are otherwise not of interest and do not form part of this assessment.

Description

A ceramic mural depicting the buildings and natural environment of central Somerset, designed and made by Philippa Threlfall (b.) and Kennedy Collings, commissioned by C & J Clark Ltd, shoe manufacturers, for The Crispin Centre, Street. The buildings of the Crispin Centre are otherwise not of interest and do not form part of this assessment.

MATERIALS
Textured and modelled clays in a variety of colours, with selective glazes, the tiles embedded in polyester resin panels. The sky is created from various shades and sizes of Cornish slate pieces.

DESCRIPTION
The mural measures 1.5m x 8.5m (5ft x 28ft), and is situated at the southern entrance of The Crispin Centre, a small shopping development. The buildings of the Crispin Centre are not otherwise of interest. The mural depicts a range of important and typical historic buildings from across central Somerset, laid out in front of the viewer, moving north to south as the design moves from left to right. The buildings include such landmarks as the west front of Wells Cathedral and St Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor, as well as modest vernacular housing from villages about the area, and details of historic buildings including churches from across the region, the butter cross from Somerton and the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. The buildings of Street feature prominently, including the shoe factory of C & J Clark, who commissioned the piece. In addition to the numerous buildings, strongly modelled in various colours of clay with selectively glazed areas to add colour and suggest glass in windows, the design includes elements of the natural landscape, with the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels in the background unifying the design, and depictions suggesting the rural industries of the area: peat moors; the growing of teazles for use in the wool industry; and apples for cider making. The only figure in the piece is a basket maker in the foreground, weaving the withies shown growing close by.

The full list of buildings and items featured in the mural is as follows: the Mendip Hills; Brent Knoll; King John’s Hunting Lodge, Axminster; bench end from Brent Knoll church; Wedmore church; house at Wedmore; Queen Anne’s lace; cottage from Mark Moor; peat working at Godney Moor; Abbot’s Fish House, Meare; church and farm, Meare; the Conduit, Market Place, Wells; west front of Wells Cathedral; the Bishop’s Eye and swans on the Bishop’s Palace moat, Wells; houses at Croscombe and Dinder; capital showing grape stealers from Wells Cathedral; Prestleigh viaduct, Evercreech; market cross at Shepton Mallet; Bowlish House, Shepton Mallet; Abbot’s kitchen, Glastonbury Abbey; finial from the Bear Hotel, Street; Glastonbury Abbey ruins; Street Hill with the Hood Monument; St Michael’s Tower and Glastonbury Tor; Glastonbury Abbey Barn; main façade of C & J Clark’s shoe factory, Street; houses in Street; Friends’ Meeting House, Street; C & J Clark clock tower, Street; The Windmill; Sedgemoor; market cross, almshouses and shops, Somerton; traditional local crops of withies, teazles and apples; ruins of St Michael’s church, Burrow Mump; houses at Burrowbridge; Westonzoyland church tower; St Mary’s spire and St John’s tower, Bridgwater; bridge and Castle Street, Bridgwater; basket maker from Athelney.

History

The Buildings of Central Somerset mural was commissioned in 1979 by C & J Clark, the shoe manufacturers, whose headquarters are in Street, Somerset, for a new shopping development, the Crispin Centre, off the High Street. Clarks approached ceramicist Philippa Threlfall and her husband and collaborator Kennedy Collings, who were based in Somerset; Philippa’s studio and workshop was in Wells, while Kennedy worked initially for Clarks before joining Philippa in the ceramics business. Among a number of public commissions, they had recently completed a mural in Hove for the head offices of the Sussex Mutual Building Society (1975, current whereabouts unknown), depicting a range of important and typical vernacular buildings from across that county, and proposed a similar design to Clarks, featuring the buildings and landscape of central Somerset. Philippa and Kennedy travelled the county to seek out subjects for inclusion in the composition, taking photographs and drawing buildings and features. Philippa writes on her website: “Somerset provided a wonderful variety of architecture with which to work. Simple brick cottages contrasted with richly ornate mediaeval buildings. Modelling the west front of Wells Cathedral was something of a challenge. Street (the largest village in the UK) features importantly in the mural as befits the fact that Clarks were the patrons. The terracotta bear finial from the Bear Hotel, Quaker Meeting house, original main offices and landmark clock tower all appear. The clock shows the time at eight o’clock because Kennedy wished to record that in his days at Clarks he had to appear for work by that time in the morning!” The mural was completed in 1979. It was restored in 2012.

Reasons for Listing

The Buildings of Central Somerset mural, made in 1979 by Philippa Threlfall, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* Aesthetic interest: the mural is a fine piece of ceramic work, depicting genuine buildings, plants and crafts of the region, strongly modelled, with varying textures and finishes, neatly composed with a unifying landscape and sky in the background. The easily-recognisable buildings are well-observed, and show the artist’s love for the area in which she has spent most of her working life;
* Degree of survival: the mural is unaltered since its completion, and has been lightly restored by the artist, but is otherwise intact;
* Contribution to its location: the mural has a very strong link to its location in Street, Somerset, the site of the headquarters of the Clarks shoemaking company, which commissioned the piece and whose factory features prominently in the composition.

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