Glastonbury AbbeyGlastonbury
Somerset BA6 9DU
 
 
 
In the centre of Glastonbury are the ruins of the famous Glastonbury Abbey allegedly the burial place of King Arthur and Queen Guinivere.
 
Traditionally the Abbey was the first Christian community in the British Isles. Legend says that Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury following Christ’s crucifixion. He staggered ashore on the Isle of Avalon, thrusting his staff of Middle Eastern thorn bush into the ground and fell asleep. When he awoke the staff had taken root and it is said that this is the Holy Thorn tree currently at the rear of St Patrick’s Chapel in the Abbey ruins.
 
Joseph of Arimathea
Legend says that in 63 AD Joseph of Arimathea built the first Christian community at Glastonbury. Certainly the Old Church was built in 63 AD. Whatever the legends, it is known that in the 7th Century, Somerset was conquered by the Saxon King Ine and became part of the mighty kingdom of Wessex. King Ine supported the Abbey and in 712 built a stone church. The base of this church now forms the west end of the Abbey Nave.
 
Norman Invasion
With the Norman invasion of England, the Normans took control of the Abbey and brought in skilled Norman craftsmen to add to the Abbey buildings. They demolished the stone church and replaced it with two larger churches. The Abbey became so wealthy that in 1086 the Doomsday Book records Glastonbury as being the wealthiest monastery in the country of Somerset.
 
The 11th and 12th centuries were a period of great building activity. However a fire destroyed the Abbey buildings in 1184 taking with it many of the Abbey treasures. These types of buildings were often roofed in thatch and throughout the country many were destroyed (including the original Gloucester Abbey). Eventually they were roofed with slate and lead.
 
King Arthur
In 1191 the monks of the Abbey decided to try and find the legendary King Arthur’s tomb. Rumors persisted that he had been buried in the old Abbey cemetery south of the Lady Chapel at a great depth. They dug down 7 feet (2.1 metres) and found a stone slab with a lead cross and a latin inscription translated as “Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the Isle of Avalon”.
 
Some small bones and a scrap of hair were explained as Guinivere’s. The remains were put in to two caskets which were re-interred in front of the High Altar during a state visit by Edward I and Queen Matilda. They disappeared during the ransacking of the Abbey and have never been seen since.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Booking.com here:    External Link

 

 
From Wealth to Ruin
By the 14th century, Glastonbury Abbey had accumulated much wealth. It was then the second wealthiest Abbey in England after London’s Westminster Abbey. The Abbot wielded much power. A magnificent Abbot’s house was begun in 1334, with special apartments constructed for a visit by King Henry VII. However, with the coming of King Henry VIII and his religious vendetta that became known as the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” (1536-1541), the Abbey went into rapid decline and ruin.
 
Abbey Ruins
The present Abbey grounds are extensive with the ruins and points of interest well signed and paths graded and compacted. Every week of the year, services are held in St Patrick’s Chapel. Please check with the Abbey Information Office to confirm service times and venue - link below.
 
Living History Performances
During the summer months (April-October), actors conduct living history performances. They appear as real characters taken from the Abbey’s records. These actors help to bring to life the Abbey’s past. Performance times and venues are listed each day at the Abbey entrance.
 
Facilities
There is an Abbey Museum and visitor Centre, and the Gift Shop is located beside the Ticket office and Abbey Entrance. From June to August, there is an outdoor café in the Abbey grounds. Right outside the Abbey grounds are the medieval Abbey farm buildings. In the fine medieval Abbey Barn is the Somerset Rural Life Museum which is free to explore.
 
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Lastminute.com here:    External Link
 
 
Disabled Access
The Abbey advises that wheelchair access is available to 95% of the site. A modern Disabled Toilet is available.
- Vision Impaired: Large print leaflets and Audio guides are available.
- Hearing Impaired: A Deaf Loop is in place in the ticket office and gift shop.
 
Parking
Parking is available right outside the Abbey grounds in the Glastonbury Council car parks on payment of the Council parking fee.
 
Opening Hours & Admission Costs
The Abbey and grounds are open all year - well worth visiting. The Abbey has an excellent website with full visiting information.
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0)1458 832 267
Mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website  Glastonbury Abbey    External Link
 
Getting There
See full directions on our Glastonbury Village page.
 
Just a mile or so south west of Glastonbury is Street Village. Street has some 11,000 people and is the home to the Clarks Village Outlet Shopping Centre.
 
Google Map - Glastonbury Abbey