Glastonbury Abbey and Church

Glestingaburh, Y Niswitrin

The site of a small medieval abbey, which was variously said to have been founded by Deruvian and Phagan c AD 166, missionaries sent by the Pope to the British king, Lucius, and by Saint Patrick before his mission to the Irish. There is in fact no real evidence for an abbey there before the seventh century, although there is evidence of a much smaller and older church on the site, and it is perhaps this that has become elevated to the status of abbey prior to the true date for the foundation of the abbey church itself.

Joseph of Arimathea, is according to one legend said to have landed by boat on Wearyall Hill which is located on the outskirts of Glastonbury town and again underlines the fact that in past times the area around Glastonbury flooded making certain areas accessible only by small boat at certain times of the year. This also supports the belief that this area of the country was what some legends referred to as the Isle of Avalon.

In AD 1184, the Abbey was in the care of Peter de Marcy when fire destroyed the abbey's Great Church and the Old Church, which had stood adjacent to it. The rebuilding of the abbey was heavily supported by King Henry II, who politically had a keen interest in Glastonbury. His death in AD 1189 meant that the abbey lost its financial support and neither of his sons, John or Richard (King Richard I, Coeur-de-Lion, The Lionheart), were interested in continuing it.

In AD 1409, Bishop Robert Hallum of Salisbury claimed England to be a Christian nation with equal status to Italy, France and Germany, on the basis of apostolic conversion by Joseph. Although the date of the conversion was moved backwards to just after Christ's Passion, rather than AD 63, this was to offset France's claim to conversion by Mary Magdalene and St. Denis (a disciple of Paul). A similar claim was later made and successful at the Council of Constance in AD 1417. The manipulation of historical fact for the benefit of prestige and/or political power, appears throughout history.

In the Middle Ages, bones, which were identified by their discoverers as those of Arthur and Guenevere, were found there. Although most authorities regard the find as a hoax, this is not necessarily the case. According to a story found in the Life of Gildas, Melwas (Meleagaunce) abducted Guenevere and took her to Glastonbury, but Gildas mediated between him and Arthur.

It could be argued that like other ritualistic sites the location may have been a site on which an act of God may have taken place i.e. struck by a bolt of lighting or a comet and so flattening the area. A building or monument being then built to mark the spot.

All that can be said is that the mysteries and connections with the church of Arthurian legend and the mystical leylines (earth energy lines) found here at Glastonbury willcontinue to attract thousands of pilgrims well into the new millennium. It is a place that does have an atmosphere that is totally unique, interwoven with the Christian heritage of the pilgrims to the so called New Age pilgrims that travel to this town from all over the world.

See also
Glastonbury | The Legend of King Arthur
Joseph of Arimathea in Glastonbury | The Legend of King Arthur
Glastonbury Thorn | The Legend of King Arthur
King Arthur and Guenevere's grave | The Legend of King Arthur
Glastonbury Tor | The Legend of King Arthur
Saint Collen | The Legend of King Arthur
Glastonbury Zodiac | The Legend of King Arthur