Glastonbury Abbey was founded in the 7th century and expanded by St. Dunstan, the Abbot of Glastonbury in the 10th century and by 1086, it was the richest monastery in England. Of special interest is the legend connecting the site of the abbey to the burial place of King Arthur as well as Joseph of Arimathea. As I had been fascinated by the legend, my sister decided to make a stop at the abbey on our way back from Wells.
According to the exhibition at the abbey museum, there was an old church made of mud and wood on the site, the origin of which is not clear but there are various legends surrounding it. However, the fire of 1184 destroyed any traces of this old church and the Lady chapel was consecrated on its site in 1186.
When the medieval St. Joseph’s crypt was constructed under the Lady chapel, it became a popular destination for pilgrims. The crypt was rededicated in 2015 by the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
On the side of Lady chapel is a marker of a grave. While there are many stories connected to this grave, a popular story that is mentioned on the abbey’s website is that monks needing to raise funds to rebuild the abbey after the fire, dug up this grave in 1191 searching for the bones of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.
They were then re-buried in a black marble tomb in the then newly constructed abbey church in 1278.
The ruins of the Great church, though not having survived to the extent of Lady chapel, are also quite majestic.
The best preserved section of the abbey is the Abbot’s kitchen, which was built in the 1300s, and was used to provide meals for the abbot and his guests.
Facing the kitchen was the ruins of the refectory, marked as the monastic ruins on the abbey map.
The abbey grounds cover 36 acres of parkland. I was not up to walking around the entire parkland but I did stop and pause by some lovely benches to rest and observe the ruins.
Another site of interest to the visitor to Glastonbury would be the Glastonbury Tor. Having walked a lot that day, my sister was concerned that I would find it too much to climb and with the clouds opening up as I finished my visit to the abbey, we decided to turn away with a brief glimpse of the Tor, from a distance.
Disclaimer: The Bath Tourism Office kindly gave me a complimentary media pass to Bath and regional attractions, during my November 2016 visit to south west England, for the purpose of this post. This pass allowed me free entry to Glastonbury Abbey. All opinions are my own and I only recommend experiences I have enjoyed.