S Bird & Sons

S Bird & Sons
The original S. Bird & Sons shop on Castle Green

S Bird & Sons was established in 1923 and continued serving the Nunney community as the SPAR village shop until 2019.

S Bird & SonsAs these archive photos show, the original shop was located on the corner of Castle Street and Castle Green.

The building is currently in use as Castle Kitchen, but is still owned by a member of the Bird family.

The current shop in the Market Place stands on the site of the former Social Club, run by Owen Hillier’s father.

S Bird & SonsIn previous centuries, Nunney’s weekly market – established by royal charter in 1260 – was the place to trade fresh, local produce. Nunney’s market was said to rival that in Frome, leading to a medieval court case. Some local producers also walked to Frome market to sell eggs and such.

In the 18th and 19th century Nunney had numerous shops. Selling local produce was often not done from a formal shop as we know it, but from a front room in the butcher’s or baker’s house – of which there were once many.

Other shops in Nunney included Coleman’s in Church Street.
There were three butchers in the middle of the last century, one called Rabbits, two grocers, and a druggist. Much of the food was still local produce.

The Second World War brought new challenges, even in the village shop. In 1944 a married woman pleaded guilty to stealing 2.5 pounds of butter from a box on the counter of the shop while the shopkeeper had left to get a part of her order.

Bizarrely, she was caught red-handed by a police constable who had concealed him behind the counter. She asked Frome Police Court to take into account a similar case of stealing one half-pound of butter.

Although she was a well-respected, married women with plenty of money, butter was something that money could not buy under the rationing rules.

The Crown Inn (left) and Social Club (right) in 1943
The Crown Inn and Social Club in the Market Place in Nunney in June 1943
She could give no explanation for her behaviour, other than that it had been “a sudden temptation”.

When a freezer arrived in the village shop in the 1950s it was a major innovation, with reports that vegetables could now be bought “as fresh as any you will find in the London markets”.