R.I.P. Marcus a real Somerset Character

What seem like long ago at the begining of this century I spent quite a time at a cider orchard in Lower Edgarley at the foot of Glastonbury Tor where I had the honour of meeting one of

HDW forBook

Glastonbury’s great characters Marcus Govier. Today I have sadly heard that Marcus has passed away at the age of 88.
My condolences to Mrs Govier and is family at this sad time
What I had been looking for one day back then was a Little Grey Fergie to photograph for a painting and as one passed me in Cinnamon Lane when I was walking Gemma our rescue Greyhound I folowed it along round the corner to a yard and orchard that I later learnt was Marcus Govier’s.
After a chat under the apple trees I asked if I might take some photos but his tractor at that moment

Lazy days

was in brilliant sunshine even though it was among the trees and I would have prefered it in dappled shadows.
“Well do you want me to move it or shall we sit ‘ere and wait for the sun to come round?” Marcus asked.
Obviously with him sitting there in his chair under the trees with his cider, tobacco and newspaper there was no point in rushing the job.

That year I went on to do more than twenty paintings recording Marcus’ way of life. Marcus as he held court in his shed with his friends resulted in probably ,nay certainly, the only painting in the world that depicts a fly paper and a Safeways carrier bag in it.
Marcus cutting spuds to make food for his calves and beside his Michelmas Cider or

Cutting taters

mending his barrels they were all part of the daily scene which I recorded.

Michaelmas Barrels

Mending BarrelsFB

A further study of his Grey Fergie and his big old Nuffield among the hay bales in the barn followed.The dog by the way was called Dyson as according to Marcus he cleaned up everything .
Marcus’ Tractors
The Little Grey FergieLittle Grey Fergie.SMALLjpg

Marcus Barn
His Big Nuffield

And the David Brown /Case seen here at the entrance to the yard with Marcus’ nephew Peter and Glastonbury Tor in the background with a Buzzard wheeling overhead.

I also painted the famous Somerset cider apples Yarlington Mill and Kingston Black that contributed towards his potent brew.


To cap it all when I had done most of the paintings Marcus said. “When you first said you wanted to paint the tractor I didn’t know you were an artist chap, I thought you wanted to give a coat of paint.”
My visits also resulted in what has been my favourite painting for years ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ a study of a young Jersey, one of two Marcus had acquired called East and Egg as they were born on Easter Sunday.

For that painting and all the others and for the pleasure of listening to your stories, thank you Marcus it was a part of my life I will never forget.

Since writing this I have been very touched as I have been asked by the family to read a tribute to Marcus at his funeral in St John’s Church Glastonbury. I believe that a family group photo would now consist of more than one hundred people so I just hope I don’t say anything to upset anyone.

P. S.
23rd March St John’s Church Glastonbury was packed for Marcus’ funeral where at the request of the family I gave a brief tribute of anecdotes about the time I spent at Lower Edgarley recording Marcus’ life in paintings.

In May 2002 the Western Daily Press Country Life Saturday supplement did a four page feature on Marcus and the paintings that I had done.
Farmers Weekly also pubished an article entitled The Art of Cider Production with some of my recolections of meeting one of or great local characters.The text of which may be accessed via this link FW Cider article

About Michael Cooper

Bonsai enthusiast and artist. After recording the rural scene in watercolours for over thirty years and having my own studio gallery I am now semi retired. I still sell my prints though to customers worldwide via my website and through the Somerset Crafts Gallery, Avalon Marshes Centre,Westhay nr Glastonbury BA6 9TT. The rest of the time is spent looking after my bonsai trees, I like the exercise.
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