Glastonbury Abbey Is Full of History As Well As Legends About King Arthur:
Set in 36 acres of parkland, Glastonbury Abbey is believed to be one of the oldest churches in England and is frequently associated with the legend of King Arthur, an association that the monks at the Abbey were happy to encourage as it brought more pilgrims to the Abbey. If you arrive by car or coach, you can’t miss this Glastonbury landmark as it is next to the coach and car park.
History of Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Abbey was founded in the 7th century when the Saxons conquered Somerset. When the Normans invaded England and conquered the place, they expanded Glastonbury Abbey and added magnificent buildings. The Domesday Book of 1086 showed that Glastonbury Abbey was the richest monastery in the country at that time.
Although a huge fire caused extensive damage to the monastic buildings in 1184, they were rebuilt and by 1213 services had begun again. However, Glastonbury Abbey, like most of the other monasteries and nunneries, fell victim to the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” religious upheaval. Much of the Abbey was left in ruins and the main parts that are left today include the Norman abbey, the octagonal-roofed Abbot’s Kitchen and the Victorian farmhouse which now houses the Somerset Rural Life Museum.
Visitors to Glastonbury Abbey
Most people come to Glastonbury Abbey to see the legendary burial place of King Arthur. According to one legend, King Arthur was brought the the “Isle of Avalon” (Glastonbury) in a boat when he was mortally wounded by Mordred at the Battle of Camlan, around the year 542. He was believed to have been buried in the cemetery to the south of the Lady Chapel.
Centuries later (around 1191) the monks excavated the cemetery and believed that they discovered the graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere . At Easter in 1278, their bones were re-interred in a black marble tomb in the presence of King Edward I. Then came the Dissolution in 1539 and the Abbey was vandalised. Since then, no one has seen or heard anything about the tomb. Visitors today will see a notice board which marks the spot of King Arthur’s final resting place.
The Many Legends of Glastonbury Abbey
King Arthur is not the only legend that’s linked to Glastonbury Abbey. There are many other legends and myths including the Glastonbury Thorn, the Somerset Legend, etc. Visitors can learn more about these legends when they visit the places of interest in the Abbey such as:
- The Glastonbury Thorn
- The Lady Chapel and the Great Church
- Monastery ruins
- King Arthur’s Final Resting Place
Another good reason to visit Glastonbury Abbey is its beautiful and tranquil grounds with duck and fish ponds. It is a popular place for picnics and to enjoy the peace and tranquility.
Map of Glastonbury: