The Abbots Leigh Heritage Group, working under the auspices of the Civic Society, aims to uncover, document, record and store information about the village past. Activities undertaken have included the preparation of a history of Abbots Pool and the dwellings around it, mapping of the graves of the Upper and Lower Churchyard, celebration of the centenary of the sale of the Abbots Leigh Estate, and management of a new Centennial Record. The Group has assembled and maintains The Village Archive, an extensive collection of material relating to the buildings, people and activities of Abbots Leigh over the past two hundred years.
The Heritage Group met in Holy Trinity Church on Thursday 16th November to hear a presentation on the early history of the church and its vicars, the Glebe and the Graveyards. From those attending there were questions and comments, many relating to memories of recent years. Thirty five attended – from Abbots Leigh, Leigh Woods and Wells - and enjoyed a glass of wine and an inspection of the monuments and plaques around the church. Thanks to Andrew Nicholls, Cat Abel and John Butler for their help over the evening and to David Gillespie for an insight into the history of the Glebe. Above all thanks to Hester Jones and to Wo Hill for their permission to use the church and for their welcome. Thanks to those attending we were able to offer a donation to the benefit of the church.
Thanks to all who enjoyed the summer evening for a stroll along Church Road. Information about the buildings and their occupants over the last two hundred years was much appreciated, not least because Church Road householders were able to elaborate on the history, provide anecdotes and stories and invite walkers into their gardens. Special thanks go to the McFeats, to the Webbs, to the Walkes and to Betty Lanham for letting us go round the back to see more of their house and garden. Above all the evening was a huge success in giving some thirty villagers the chance to chat, make new friends and enjoy a shared community evening. Volunteers are always welcome to join our small group and help us plan what are increasingly successful evening events.
Chocolatiers of History
The late autumn event will be about on the history of the Fry and Cadbury Families culminating in their residence at The Priory and the Manor House respectively. Roderick Fry and Egbert Cadbury worked together to plan and create the former Cadbury Somerdale factory at Keynsham.
Many Abbots Leigh residents may not know of the historic Tudor Canal and Gazebo which can be found opposite Brackenwood Garden Centre. These are the only visible remnants of the gardens of the Tudor Old Court House, home of the Nortons and Trenchards until its demolition when Leigh Court was built in 1817.
On Thursday 11th October a group of volunteers from Lloyds TSB Bank, joined by helpers from Avon Gardens Trust and your own Heritage Group, spent the day cutting back trees, clearing undergrowth and tidying up the surrounds of the canal. Whilst the Gazebo (the tower like building beside the canal) is in poor condition the canal is now visible from the road revealing an important historical feature from over three hundred years ago. With the Freeways Trust (who own the site) and Avon Gardens Trust, the Heritage Group will be working both towards maintenance and improvement of the canal and gazebo and providing an information board for those passing by.
Strengthening the Heritage Group
Whilst increasing numbers of village residents are now attending our meetings, the Group is dependent on a few active enthusiasts to plan ahead and stimulate interest in our heritage. We would welcome anyone who would like to join our small
Committee (only two or three meetings a year) to contribute to the success – and sustainability – of the Group.
Further information on the wider area can be found at Avon History & Archaeology.