News has just reached the village that Christleton has won the Cheshire Community Council Best Kept Village Competition again, in the final year of the Competition. Councillor Janet Brown who together with the late Jim Partington has represented the village for many years at the event, was delighted to phone me with the latest success. The competition formerly known as the Community Pride Competition was initiated in 1957, to develop and highlight a sense of pride amongst people throughout Cheshire.
The Competition exemplifies the community spirit in all the villages. It emphasises just how much voluntary work is undertaken to keep Cheshire a beautiful and attractive county. The competition encourages villages to improve every aspect of village life, much of which is under threat in so many different ways.
I think that the first time Christleton won the competition was in the 1960’s and the copper beech tree presented to the village that year is still standing at the corner of the churchyard adjacent to the flag pole and the Manor House garden. I have seen a picture of the late Rector Rev’d Lawrie Skipper planting the tree. Many people will remember the Best Kept Village Sign (pictured) which was situated on the Village Green adjacent to the Butcher’s Shop, a sign that was vandalised and stolen in the early 2,000’s. Since then many of the BKV award plaques have been placed on the front of the Parish Hall, and the water colour paintings now awarded to winners, hang in the Methodist Chapel.
I believe that Christleton won the event so many times because of the lack of power and telephone lines in the centre of the village. The removal of these unsightly lines and poles throughout the village was the result of Chairman Tony Gardner and Parish Councillors making an agreement with MANWEB and British Telecom to relay them underground. However most people will not realise that one of the main reasons for this undertaking, was that swans taking off from the Pit in the 1970’s continually crashed into the surrounding power lines, causing shortages, and tripping fuses throughout the village. The removal of these lines and poles made Christleton a more attractive place, both to live in and visit, and a wonderful place to photograph. I’m convinced that the judges saw the village with new eyes after their removal.
I was invited to give presentations about “The Heritage of Christleton” twice, at the Presentation of the Awards Ceremonies at Congleton in the 1990’s and Chester in 2000, and the village is very well respected all over the county for the conservation work done by the Parish Council, Pit Group and villagers. As a result of this reputation we had also hosted the “Festival of British Villages” in 1976, led that year by Emma Hall and members of the WI, St James’ Church, The Primary & High Schools and the Parish Council. Events on the Village Green included Maypole Dancing, a traditional Mummers Play, and the Nativity scene from the Chester Mystery Plays, led by members of the reknowned Christleton Players Theatrical Group.
In addition to the Best Kept Village and Community Pride Competitions, Cheshire Community Council founded in 1930 and based in Watergate Street, Chester also promoted books about the History of the County, and supported organisations like The County Playing Fields Association, to improve all aspects of community life throughout the County. Christleton has been proud to be part of the success of the organisation over the years, and to win Best Kept Village in the final year of the competition is a great joy.
Villagers with Award November 2019
Janet Brown and Christine Abrams
Winning Years Ago
Copper Beech presented in the 1960's for winning Competition
Christleton Players aopproaching the Green
Christleton Players on the Green
Canon Laurie Skipper
Swans Mating Display
2SD at Christleton Pit
Cob on the Pit
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