Glastonbury Abbey should have a great tea towel story – possibly something about being on Glastonbury Tor at sunrise on the longest day or a visit following a whole weekend, knee-deep in mud listening to great music at the Glastonbury Festival but, sad to say, those events do not come into my repetoire. Bar a year or so in the early 70’s, wearing bells, long skirts and walking around bare footed, I am not really a Glastonbury sort of a girl. I’m not into the mystic, stones, joss sticks and runes; as far as I am concerned, stones gather dust which are difficult to keep clean and joss sticks get in the way and leave that trail of burnt ash that looks like the droppings of some small creature.
I had been staying in Wells for a long weekend with Fee; I had seen Wells Cathedral and really wanted to see Glastonbury Abbey. I am always a sucker for some ruins. Fee didn’t really want to go but, in the end, I persuaded her. At this point you might wonder how Fee and I ever became friends since, if you have read any of my previous blogs, she hated Gilbert and Sullivan, the Llanfair….Ladies Choir and now old ruins (and also tea towels although she does read the Blog occasionally). Your friends are always people who share the same interests as you, or who are the complete opposites. You can see where my friendship with Fee lies. Back to the story.
Glastonbury Abbey was established in 712AD and was disestablished in 1539 under Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 14th Century, Glastonbury Abbey was one of the richest and most powerful monasteries in England. It is now a scheduled ancient monument and the ruins are Grade I Listed buildings. I love all the myths and mysteries that surround Glastonbury Abbey. Glastonbury has always been the centre of tales about the location of King Arthur’s Court and the Round Table. At the edge of the boundary to Glastonbury Abbey a plaque was put up saying “In the year 1191 the bodies of King Arthur and his Queen were said to have been found on the southside of the Lady Chapel…..” This was later discovered to have been a stunt to raise funds for preservation work to be carried out at Glastonbury. The Abbott’s Kitchen is one of the best preserved mediaeval kitchens in Europe, although not a lot elsewhere survives in tact. Edmond Ironside, who lost England to Canute, was buried here.
I like Glastonbury Abbey. It has a quiet atmosphere in which to contemplate and ponder. I remember sitting amongst the ruins thinking that this was a truly lovely spot, whilst Fee was browsing the shops. I never did convince her that looking at ruins was a good way to spend one’s time but I had more chance of that than persuading her that we should listen to the Llanfair Ladies Choir.
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