"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Sioux under General
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Glastonbury is a quaint little town, old and new homes stand next to each other, and alongside an eclectic collection of weird & wonderful shops.

 

The unique High Street is packed full of colour and quirkiness, selling everything from crystals, esoteric books, witchcraft supplies, faery accessories and hemp products; to homemade “new-age style” clothing and mystical bric-a-brac, labelled as “Finely crafted items to aid your personal spiritual journey”.

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The town became a centre for commerce, which led to the construction of the market cross, Glastonbury Canal and the Glastonbury and Street railway station.

 

Preserved timber trackways indicate that the town has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and Glastonbury Lake Village

was an Iron Age village which dates back to the Bronze Age.

Described as a New Age community attracting people with New Age and Neopagan beliefs, the town is also known for its many myths and legends often related to Glastonbury Tor, and linked to King Arthur, a connection promoted by medieval monks who asserted that Glastonbury was Avalon.

The market cross, erected in 1846, replaced an original structure of early 16th century origin which was described as having been “of some antiquity”. The imposing 11.5m structure has pride of place in the centre of the town.

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In amongst the colour is the stone building of the Glastonbury Tribunal, a late 15th-century town house with an early Tudor façade .

 

Once thought to have been the courtroom of Glastonbury Abbey, the Tribunal now houses a Tourist Information Centre and Glastonbury Lake Village Museum, which contains dramatic finds from one of Europe’s most famous archaeological sites.

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The first records of the George Hotel and Pilgrims’ Inn date back to 1439. Built to accommodate visitors to the Abbey, the inn is claimed to be the oldest purpose built public house in the South West of England and is reputedly haunted.

Enroute to the Abbey, we passed The Abbey House. I wanted to go in as it looked interesting, but the driveway was blocked off.

 

The house was built as a gentleman’s residence in the early 19th century, for a banker with antiquarian interests.

 

Built in Tudor Gothic style, the siting and style of the house were determined by its setting in the grounds of the abbey, and still boasts spectacular views straight down the length of the ruined abbey church and the Lady Chapel. When it was sold at the turn of the last century, it was advertised as having some “interesting ruins in the garden”!

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The Abbey, founded in the 7th century and enlarged in the 10th, was considered to be one of the most important abbeys in England, and was the site of the coronation of the King of England in 1016. In 1086, when the Domesday Book was commissioned to provide records and a census of life in England, Glastonbury Abbey was the richest monastery in the country.

Destroyed by fire in 1184, it was rebuilt and by the 14th century was one of the richest and most powerful monasteries in England. Christian legends claim that the abbey was founded in the 1st century.

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What the Abbey may have looked like in 1539

In 1191 the alleged discovery of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s tomb in the cemetery brought about a revival of interest and an increase in pilgrimages.

 

A search uncovered a massive hollowed oak trunk containing two skeletons, at the depth of 5 m. Above it, under the covering stone, was a leaden cross with a very specific inscription “Hic jacet sepultus inclitus rex Arthurus in insula Avalonia (“Here lies interred the famous King Arthur on the Isle of Avalon”), although historians today have mostly dismissed the authenticity of the find, stating that it was a publicity stunt in order to raise funds to repair the Abbey, after the 1184 fire.

 

The remains were removed and interred in a black marble tomb, which survived until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, when the last abbot was hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor, on Glastonbury Tor.

The Lady Chapel is described as being one of the finest 12th century buildings in Europe.

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The lancet window is one of the typical features of the Early English (13th century) period in Gothic architecture. The difference between a gothic arch and other church or cathedral arches is a Gothic arch has no keystone, and was typically narrower than “normal arches”.

This portion of the original tiled floors of the transept has been preserved exactly as found, and is covered and locked at night.

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Glastonbury Torr can be seen clearly from the gardens of the Abbey. 

The Abbot’s Kitchen is a mediaeval octagonal building that served as the kitchens of the Abbey. The building is designed so that hot air from the cooking fires would have risen up to the top of the building and out through vents, whilst cooler air came from openings lower down and sunk into the kitchen, thereby cooling it.

 

Dating from the 14th century, it is one of a very few surviving mediaeval kitchens in the world, and has been described as “one of the best preserved medieval kitchens in Europe”. The only building at Glastonbury Abbey to survive intact, it was at some stage, used as a Quaker meeting house.

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We walked around the gardens and the small chapel then left the abbey and headed back to our accommodation.

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I went for a sunset walk along the river at the bottom end of the property and then back to the cottage to pack. And so ended the first day of the start of my 61st year on earth! The next leg of our journey was to the coastal town of Torquay, with two planned stops on the way.

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A bronze casting of the monk Sigeric riding a mule while on pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome. A small girl offers him an orange from a bag on her back.

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Some of the decor in the garden of the property we stayed on.

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