Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Beauty of it All

Author: Sydney Herrick


In Glastonbury, England, the oldest church in England stands today; or what’s left of it. The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey have become quite famous, and people from all over travel to this little town to take in the beauty first hand. Perhaps it’s not just for the beauty, but for the legends all over the grounds of the abbey. Whether it be fact, or fiction, the Glastonbury Abbey is a very historical place. 

The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey
The making of the church has split stories. One legend explains how Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus Christ built the first edition sometime in the first century. However, historical sources seem to prove the first church was built by missionaries who came with King Lucius from Rome in the second century. Either way, the first church in Glastonbury was built very early on, and was not left alone. New additions were constantly added to the abbey through the years until 1184. On May 25, 1184, a fire inside the monastery destroyed nearly every room, and all the treasures being kept there.
Glastonbury Abbey today
Although reconstruction began immediately, it took 30 years for the new church to be built. Glastonbury Abbey, as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII, was shut down in 1539. The stone that once held this magnificent church together was sold for the use of local building work.
            The mysteries of Glastonbury Abbey still linger in the air. During the early 1900’s, archeologists attempted to discovered any artifacts in the area left in the ruins. Frederick Bligh Bond, and archeologist from Bristol, was the director of these excavations. On June 16, 1908, he sat down at a table with John Allen Bartlett, giving him a pencil and paper. Through the use of automatic writing, or psychography, Bond was able to locate all the artifacts they had been searching for. The way automatic writing works is by allowing a spirit to enter a body, and use the body to write what it wishes to speak. Bond was speaking to the monks who once lived in the monastery hundreds of years ago. He later posted all of these messages in The Gate of Remembrance, and they are now known as the Glastonbury Scripts.
            Not only does the abbey have paranormal activity, but it is said to be the once resting place of King Arthur. Yes, that’s right. King Arthur. During the monk’s reconstruction of the monastery, they claim to have discovered the graves of King Arthur and Guinevere. Historians believe it could be possible, but there is no actual proof of King Arthur ever being there. The monks, upon discovering their remains, moved them to a different location.
The gravesite of King Arthur

Sign in Glastonbury Abbey for King Arthur’s gravesite


 The magical history of this place doesn’t stop there, though. Shortly after Christ’s death, Joseph of Arimathea and his followers came to Glastonbury. With him, he carried the chalice used at the Last Supper. This chalice is more commonly known as the Holy Grail. Joseph buried the grail, according to legend, and a spring with water red like the blood in the chalice emerged in the same spot. The water appears red, no because of the blood of Jesus Christ, but because of the iron in the spring. People can drink the water whenever they wish, and some even believe it to have healing powers.
 Chalice Spring- it’s said the water is red from the blood of Jesus Christ
Whether any of this is legend or fact, the Glastonbury Abbey is a very historical place. Anyone who believes King Arthur once was buried on the grounds can go and see the grave first hand. Those with a faith in Jesus Christ can drink from a well that is colored from the chalice used during the Last Supper. No matter what the belief is, Glastonbury Abbey is the oldest church in England. Though only in ruins now, the church still holds the same beauty in once used to. The magic of it all is enough to consume anyone willing to step into it. Every now and then, it’s good to allow legends to become fact. Doesn’t that make the beauty of it all?
Glastonbury Abbey and all of its beauty

Works Cited:
Broome, Fiona. “Glastonbury: Home of the Holy Grail?” Celtic Art and History. Celtic Art and History, 9 July 2011. Web. 09 Oct. 2012.
 “Glastonbury Abbey.” Sacred Destinations, 2005. Web. 09 Oct. 2012.
Glastonbury Abbey: The Legends of King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea.” Briannia, 2007. Web. 09 Oct. 2012.
hayward68. “King Arthur’s Gravesite.” Photograph. Virtualtourist.com. Virtual Tourist, 22 July 2004. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Hill, Robert. “Glastonbury Abbey.” Knightsofavalon.com. Knights of Avalon, 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Morgan, David. “Avalon.” British Heritage 19.3 (1998): 38. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.
Oidelman, Tom. “Former Gravesite of King Arthur (Glastonbury Abbey).” Photograph. Think-differently-about-sheep.com. Think Differently About Sheep, 1984. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Snyder, Dr Christopher A. “Chalice Well.” Photograph. Arthuriana.org. Arthuriana, 30 June 2005. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Thomas, Cricket St.Glastonbury Abbey.” Photograph. Swandown.net. Swandown at Cricket St. Thomas, 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Tymn, Michael E. “The Glastonbury Scripts.” Proceedings (Academy of Religion & Psychical Research) (2004): 27-35. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Oct. 2012


Links for Further Research: 

The Chronicle of Glastonbury Abbey
A book which can aid in learning about the abbey’s past in the fourteenth century.

Glastonbury Abbey and the Fusing of English Literary Culture
An online section of a larger book about medieval history.

Glastonbury Abbey and the Arthurian Tradition
Essays concerning the Glastonbury Abbey and Arthurian traditions.