>> Somerset Guide >> Glastonbury


Glastonbury Abbey

If there is one town in Somerset that is an enigma, it has to be Glastonbury. Firstly the town is the middle of the Somerset levels ( reclaimed wetland from the sea) dominated by the Glastonbury Tor ( a conical hill) which has the ruins of St Michael's Church on the top. The Tor is said to be an important ley line junction (the hypothetical alignments of a number of places). There is the legend that Joseph of Arimathea visited the town on business with the young Jesus as portrayed in William Blake's poem later turned into the famous hymn Jerusalem. This legend also involves the Holy Grail and there are other links to King Arthur.

The religious connections grew with the construction of Glastonbury Abbey, which was once one of the most powerful churches in England. However during the reformation it became one of the most notable examples of the savagery of the times under Henry VIII when it was burned and mostly destroyed. Today although it is seen as an example of the religious intolerance, the whole site has been well preserved and managed and whatever your religious beliefs, you cannot fail to be moved by its wonderful atmosphere and serenity.

Today Glastonbury is probably best known for the Glastonbury Music festival which is conjures up images of young people enjoying themselves in muddy fields. The festival takes place near the village of Pilton and was started in 1970 by Michael Eavis as a small local event and it has now become a music festival institution.

With all of this background, it is hardly surprising that Glastonbury has become a centre of New age thinking with a large number of alternative lifestyle shops in the town.