What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Waterloo. South-Western Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Glastonbury and Street. =Distance from London.=–132-1/4 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies from 3-1/2 to 5 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 21s. 0d. ... 10s. 6d. Return 36s. 9d. ... 21s. 0d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"George Hotel,” “Red Lion Hotel," “Crown Hotel,” etc. =Alternative Route.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Rly.
In the early days of Christianity in Britain this celebrated abbey, according to tradition, was established in A.D. 63. Joseph of Arimathea was supposed to be the founder, and the “miraculous thorn,” which flowered on Christmas Day, was believed to be holy by the common people even up to the time of the Puritans. During the wars between Charles I. and his Parliament the thorn was destroyed, but sturdy trees grown from cuttings of the original still flourish in some of the neighbouring gardens. This thorn was believed by the people to be the staff used by Joseph in his journey to Britain from the Holy Land. At one time Glastonbury Abbey covered 60 acres, and was the lengthiest ecclesiastical building in England, but as many of the houses in Glastonbury, and also a causeway across Sedgemoor (where the unhappy Duke of Monmouth was defeated) were constructed of the materials, the ruins are of necessity much diminished. The most interesting remains are the Abbey Church, with St. Joseph’s Chapel, St. Mary’s Chapel, and the Abbot’s Kitchen. St. Joseph’s Chapel is supposed to have been erected in the time of Henry II. and Richard I. It is one of the finest specimens in existence of transitional Norman work. It is now roofless, and even the vaulting of the crypt is nearly destroyed. The windows and archways of St. Mary’s Chapel are beautiful, although roofless. The Abbot’s Kitchen, a square massive structure with strong buttresses, was built about 1450. The roof is of stone and is surmounted by a louvre, through which the smoke escaped during the great culinary preparations in the days of the abbey’s prosperity. The gargoyles around the building, representing the heads of sheep and oxen, are suggestive of the purpose of the building. Henry VIII., who coveted the treasures of the abbey, in 1539 summoned Abbot Whiting to surrender, and on his refusal ordered him to be drawn and quartered. This was carried out on Glastonbury Tor.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. GLASTONBURY ABBEY.
The doorway of St. Joseph’s Chapel.]