Glastonbury , Somerset
Featured Location Guide
Glastonbury is a site of pilgrimage today for
Celtic Christians, members of the Church of England, for Catholics, and Pagans,
its visited by those interested in King Arthur or the grail, by those interested
in the history and abbey sites and by those seeking a pleasant and peaceful
At 36 acres these grounds are huge, it contains
over 250 trees, several ponds, a nature reserve complete with badgers set, and of
course the abbey remains. While here in addition to the historic site we
photographed ducks and geese, watched many other species of wildlife and got
close photographs of a heron. We were surprised both by the size of this site
and the amount that there was here. As we arrived when it opened, for some time
there was hardly anyone except us.
|There are a number of sizable pieces of the
church standing, at first it looks like several buildings until you line them up
and realise it was all a part of one huge church. In addition in mint condition
is the abbots kitchen, interesting shaped very similar to the central part of the
very first monastery on this site. There is also a chapel in good
condition and a range of deferent remains ranging from substantial pieces to
markings on the ground. The place where the monks are said to have found the
tomb of King Arthur and the point they reburied the remains are marked. There is
also a museum that has many remains, a model of how the monastery may have
looked, and other information. You can see the thorn bush connected with the
legends around Joseph of Arimathea. The abbots kitchen has a cooking display and
more, and there is a herb garden, with plants marked including their medical use,
within the grounds.
Ideally you need at least 3 hours here, and if
you include Glastonbury, visiting the Abbey Barn now a local museum, and the Tor you need a full day. Abbey entry includes re-entry the same day so start
with the Abbey, arrive early if you can to get parking, and photos with few
people in. A minibus goes from the car park to the Tor. Glastonbury has a
lot of 'new age' shops, crystals, witchy things and the like. You will often
find re-enactment groups within the Abbey grounds, and may see other groups
around the town either connected with this or with new age groups, so carry a
camera and be prepared.
Glastonbury has several histories, you can
choose the one you believe. Some say it was the place of the first Christian
church in Britain, and up to and including Norman times this was the documented
version, or you can believe that this was all myths and that the Catholic church
came here many hundreds of years later. So what can we document.
In our article
Christianity in Britain,
we look at how Christianity arrived in Britain and the early history,
including the development of Celtic and Roman branches of the Christian faith
and their amalgamation. This amongst other things details the earliest known
records relating to Christianity arriving in Britain, and the Celtic or insular
church that existed here before the church of Rome arrived, and how it was all
The development of monasteries and abbeys in Britain
looks at how monasteries came about, the development of the brands,
numbers involved and why each developed and eventually fell out of favour.
Dissolution of the monasteries
looks at the background to, and what was going on in Europe, what led to and the
results of the dissolution of the monasteries, which had little to do with
who Henry VIII wished to marry.
We also have a number of articles around King
Arthur, and the locations connected to him.
King Arthur, did he exist, and who was he.
If we look at the history we have, the abbey we
can visit at Glastonbury today is at least the 5th church on this site, its
likely however that there would be at least a couple of rebuilds between the
first and the second, we know about. They may not have all been on the same
The story starts in 63AD with the
foundation of the first Christian community at Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea, this is within the period when Romans were here. It is said that St
Patrick visited in 443AD, itssaid to be the burial place of King Arthur who is said
to have died around 542AD.
The building of a new church in 712AD, the adding
of cloisters in 940AD, King Edmund buried in the abbey in 967AD.
pulled down and replaced by a larger one in 1077 by Abbot Thurstin who is then
dismissed after his soldiers kill monks by the High Altar.
Between 1100 to
1118 Abbot Herlewin demolishes the Norman church and builds another on a
grander scale. In 1125 The Cloisters, Bell Tower, Chapter House, Refectory,
Infirmary, Outer Gate, Brewery and Stables are built, and the same year William of Malmesbury completes his history of the Abbey, "De Antiquitate
Glastonie Ecclesie". In 1184 a fire destroys the Abbey including the Old
Two years later in 1186 The Lady Chapel is consecrated on the site of the
Old Church and King Henry II puts his chancellor, Ralph Fitzstephen in charge of
rebuilding the monastery. 1189 work starts on building the East end of the Great
Church, 1191 King Arthur and Guinevere's tombs found in the cemetery.
Click on the smaller images to see larger
Further expansion over the years until the
Dissolution of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. The Abbey buildings are ransacked and
all valuables sold or removed to the King's treasury. Abbot Richard Whyting, who
had been a signatory to the Act of Supremacy that made Henry VIII the head of
the church, resisted and was hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor on
Glastonbury Tor on November 15 1539.
In 1560. A colony of weavers is established on
the Abbey site.
1908 The Abbey ruins are purchased by the
Bath and Wells Diocesan Trust. Consolidation and repair of the ruined Abbey
So much has happened here that this by
necessity is a very potted history.
- All the abbots from 601 through to 1539
have been identified, and are listed on their website, over 50 in total.
- There is writings about King Arthur,
although some think the burial site find and reburial this was a publicity
stunt by the monks of the time.
- There is a connection with the Grail,
the cup from the last supper, and there is a lot of other information I
have researched before on this, and written about but not on this website
(yet), that tracks the grail, and later connected items.
- At the time of the Domesday book, 1086,
Glastonbury Abbey was the richest abbey in the country, in the 14th century
only Westminster abbey was wealthier than Glastonbury.
- Pagans and Celtic Christians may find
the well in the south wall accessible from the crypt of special interest.
Entrance to the Well
Click on the smaller images to see larger
|Further information Grid
Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Somerset
Best Times to Visit:
letters relating to 1539
Other Relevant pages:
including all major Christian buildings, regions orders, normal layouts and
Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Somerset
Centre of Glastonbury
Well marked off car park or via entry arch
from main road near town centre, both lead to the ticket office.
Parking, pay and display is just outside, but
space is scarce, so you may need to park further way in a town car park and
walk to the site, Glastonbury is small and the site is near the centre.
All you would expect at a major tourist
attraction, plus town is only a couple of minutes walk.
Things To Do,
See and Photograph:
Buildings, architecture, views, wildlife
What to take:
Tripod, level, wide angle lens.
A variety, including a badger set, and nature
reserve and a variety of birds, butterflies etc. We photographed geese
ducks, a heron and saw much more.
The Abbey Gatehouse
Dec-Feb 9am-4pm (closed
Adults £6; Child (5-15) £4, under 5 free,
Family (2+2) £16
Over 60's and students £5.
Tickets valid all day on day of issue. Year
pass also available.
None they say "Photography and video is
welcomed, provided it is for personal consumption only. No commercial or
other use is permitted without prior written permission." Wedding
photography subject to entry fees being paid, see website.
No services - site owned by Church of England
via a trust.
Special Needs Access:
Wheelchair access to most of the area. The
Ticket Office, Gift shop, Toilet and Museum are all interlinked, are modern
and are all properly ramped, with stone and tarmac surfaces.
Special Needs Facilities:
Ideal site for children but watch near ponds.
Must be supervised at all times.
Have to be kept on leads at all times -
Please let us know any other information that we
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