2016 proved to be another eventful year in Nunney. We look back at some of the key moments of the past 12 months in our village.
The year started with an armed robbery at the petrol station at Nunney Catch. Police arrested three men – aged 16, 17 and 19 – nearby and a fourth – aged 24 – the next day.
Celebrities and awards at The George
Recovering from a fire on Christmas Eve last year, The George at Nunney continued to win awards and pack in the punters.
As well as winning Wadworth Brewery’s Retailer of the Year for the second year, the pub won three awards of excellence from Visit England. These included the Breakfast Award and a Silver Award for outperforming The George’s 4-star rating.
Nunney First School
The school celebrates its 120th anniversary with events throughout the year. In 1896 the school moved into its current, purpose-built building that had been largely paid for by the Earl of Cork and Orrery. Previously education in Nunney took place in the Church Rooms, next to Castlebrook House on Church Street.
There was more good news for Nunney First School in August, when it was announced that the school had become an academy.
Visit Nunney picked up several awards this year too. In February editor Adrie van der Luijt won Unsung Hero for Customer Excellence at the South West Tourism Awards.
We were also ‘highly commended’ for UK Charity / Social Enterprise Website of the Year by the Good Web Guide.
In December Visit Nunney collected the top prize in the category Leisure / Tourism at the Believe in Somerset Awards. “Since its launch in 2009, Visit Nunney has continuously pitched well above its weight,” according to the judging panel – and who are we to argue?
Plans to further improve the Market Place raised the blood pressure in some parts of the village. Nunney Parish Council proposed to make part of the crumbling rubble wall safe and install an open shelter in keeping with the village centre’s status as a conservation area.
Others were up in arms against the plans. A petition, based on designs and costings already rejected by the parish council, was launched and the formal planning application was rejected in the first round. The parish council will appeal against the decision.
A royal birthday party
In June the village marked the Queen’s 90th birthday with a well-attended garden party in Old Quarry Gardens. Much to everyone’s surprise Her Majesty turned up in person to cut the royal birthday cake.
In the evening a beacon was lit on top of the tower of All Saints Church, one of hundreds of beacons across the UK.
Nunney Street Market & Fayre
Nunney Community Association’s biggest annual fundraiser took place on a gloriously sunny first Saturday in August. Some 7,000 visitors came to Nunney, down on last year’s estimated 10,000 but feeling less overcrowded for it.
John Challis opened the fayre and posed with countless happy visitors throughout the day.
Other events organised by Nunney Community Association this year saw a record-turnout at Easter Sunday Bonnet Parade & Duck Race and the ever-popular Carols in the Castle.
New BMX track
One of the local community projects funded in part out of the money raised by Nunney Street Market & Fayre is the BMX track in Old Quarry Gardens. After countless delays it finally opened to much acclaim in July.
A new ceiling for the church
After 9 years of fundraising the Friends of Nunney Church took the big step to start work on a new ceiling for the nave of All Saints Church. The rotting medieval ceiling was removed in 1957 and replaced with a temporary agricultural ceiling that remained in place for 60 years.
The church closed in September with a special service and will remain closed until Easter 2017. Local builders C & L Pearce are reinstating four dormer windows and installing a new ceiling.
A further £40,000 is needed on top of the money already raised to complete the job.
The Nunney & District Flower Show took place outside Nunney First School this year, followed by a talent showcase the next day. Not helped by truly atrocious weather, the event attracted both fewer entries and fewer visitors than in previous years.
The flower show has been a key feature of our village since the 1890s. The organising committee has now set itself the challenge to revive its popularity for the years ahead.
The many years of hard work for Nunney by Ken Lloyd were recognised by Somerset County Council in October. He received the Chairman’s Award for Service to the Community from Somerset County Councillor Christine Lawrence.
Ken is chairman of Nunney Parish Council since 2011, raised £200,000 as chairman of the Nunney Church Raise the Roof Appeal and contributes to meetings of many other community groups in the village.
Concerns had been raised about the state of repair of the footbridge linking Nunney Castle to Church Street. After heavy rain and floods in early December it was finally closed by the police. Replacing the footbridge is expected to take until summer 2017.
All change at The Catch
Not only did new owners take on the petrol station at Nunney Catch roundabout, but The Catch fish and chips restaurant closed after two years. Don’t worry: new owners will reopen it on 14 January as Ola BarbeQue Bar & Grill.
Another Nunney tourist business closed this year: Castle Kitchen, next to the former Post Office. The last tenant will continue to provide hot meals to Nunney First School from his new place of work.
New Christmas lights
In November Visit Nunney pitched to the judges of the 2016 Revive & Thrive Christmas Lights Competition, sponsored by Blachere Illuminations UK.
Our video featured passionate contributions from many Nunney villagers. Although we didn’t win the top prize of £10,000 to light up Nunney Castle over the festive season, we did win £1,000 in lights.
With Visit Nunney chipping in for additional stars and Nunney Community Association donating trees, the result was that there are not one but two beautiful Christmas trees in the village this year: one in the Market Place and one in front of Nunney First School.
David and Rob Carr donated a bench in memory of their parents. Elsie and Wilf Carr lived in Nunney from 1943 to 1971 and were stalwarts of local community life.
Villagers who died this year included Val Lewis, widow of local teacher and historian Richard Lewis.
Visit Nunney’s community archive managed to add some rare treasures this year. These included rare photos of the National School at the Church Rooms dated September 1879, long before it became Nunney First School.
In December we also secured a very rare Nunney trade token dated 1652, known as the George Ashe farthing. These trade tokens were produced during the Interregnum – the period of 25 years between Charles I and Charles II – when the government didn’t mint coins.
Our plans for 2017 include making our archive available to the public online.
As every year, it was the many volunteers who made 2016 special in Nunney. From tea in church to Nunney Parish Council members, from the village hall committee to the popular film nights, from the acoustic café and ceilidhs to Nunney Open Gardens Day – it takes many people giving their time and energy throughout the year to make a village work.
2016 was a remarkable year in Nunney. Our thanks go to the many local volunteers who made it possible. Happy New Year!