Somerset Guide

Street Information, History, Acommodation and more

Street is a thriving village close to Glastonbury, on the slopes of the Polden Hills, where the Romans mined stone. Blue Lias is a rock peculiar to the south west of England. It is found in the strata forming the lower division of the Jurassic series and consists of thin blue argillaceous limestone. The many layers of blue lias were worked in several quarries. Many Street houses were built using this stone and the distinctive material can still be seen in many of the older properties. The use of the stone was discontinued when it became more expensive than Glastonbury brick.

Blue lias tends to contain many fossils. In June 1835, John Steel announced that there was a fossil lying in Mogs quarry, twenty feet from the surface. This turned out to be the famous ichthyosaurus which may now be seen in the Natural History Museum in London.

The earliest known name of the settlement was Lantokay, which means the sacred enclosure of Kay, who was a Celtic saint. In the 12th century the original Roman causeway, part of the famous Fosse Wayt, from Glastonbury was restored. It was around this time that the settlement became known as Street, from the Latin word “strata”, meaning a paved road.

In the mid 17th century, the Society of Friends was established in Street; the old meeting house can still be seen. Among the Quaker families who settled here were the Clarks. In 1825 James Clark began the production of woollen slippers followed later by shoes and boots. The business flourished under his son, William, but profits were ploughed back into employee welfare, housing and education.

It is interesting that the Clark children were allowed to run barefoot around the town. This was said to be because they preferred not to wear shoes, but rumour had it that the shoe experts, employed by Clarks, believed that shoes were bad for the development of the feet of children, and should not be worn unless absolutely necessary!
Clarks still has its headquarters in Street, although shoes are no longer manufactured there. In 1993, the old factory buildings were converted into Clarks Village, which was probably the first purpose built factory outlet in the United Kingdom. A shoe museum here shows the history of footwear design and manufacture, with particular reference to Clarks.

There are some good walks on the nearby hills, many offering fine views to both the Mendip and Quantock hills and as far as the Bristol Channel. One of the most outstanding views is from Ivythorn Hill, which is part of a wooded estate owned by the National Trust, a few miles south of Street.

Another walk is on Collard Hill where there are stunning views of the Somerset Levels from the scarp slope. There is also a wealth of wildlife here, particularly during the summer months, including the extremely rare large blue butterfly. Collard Hill is one of the few places in England where you can see the large blue butterfly, which is an endangered species. In fact, the butterfly became extinct in the UK in 1979, but was re-introduced to selected sites using butterflies from Sweden.

Street has an indoor swimming pool and the Strode Theatre, which is the venue for a variety of events. It is a place known for its music, of all types, and there are always concerts and other events taking place. There is quite a wide variety of ethnic and other restaurants for a small place, and plenty of tourist accommodation is available in the area.

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