Glastonbury Abbey – Judges Ltd
Publisher: Judges Ltd
Glastonbury Abbey: Archaeological Investigations 1904–79 (online book)
The abbey holds a special place in English identity and popular culture. In the middle ages it was reputed to be the burial place of the legendary King Arthur and his queen Guinevere, and was regarded as the site of the earliest church in Britain, thought to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea. According to the Gospels, Joseph was the man who had donated his own tomb for the body of Christ following the crucifixion.
Glastonbury Abbey Archaeology
The abbey was founded in the 7th century and enlarged in the 10th. It was destroyed by a major fire in 1184, but subsequently rebuilt and by the 14th century was one of the richest and most powerful monasteries in England. The abbey controlled large tracts of the surrounding land and was instrumental in major drainage projects on the Somerset Levels. The abbey was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII of England. The last abbot, Richard Whiting (Whyting), was hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor on Glastonbury Tor in 1539.
When the monastic buildings were destroyed in the fire of 1184, the medieval monks needed to find a new place to worship. There is evidence that the 12th century nave was renovated and used for this purpose for almost 30 years, until some of the work was completed on the new church. The monks reconsecrated the Great Church and began services there on Christmas Day, 1213, most likely before it was entirely completed.
Glastonbury Abbey – The Norman Doorway
Publisher: Pictorial Stationery Company
The Norman Door – Glastonbury
Glastonbury Abbey, Chapel of St. Mary (St. Joseph)
Publisher: Francis Frith & Co, Reigate
The Lady Chapel dedicated to ‘Our Lady’, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was the most sacred part of the medieval abbey. It owes its unusual position at the west end of the church, rather than the east, to its construction on the site of the wooden ‘Old Church’ (vetusta ecclesia), destroyed in the fire of 1184. The chapel was built quickly following the fire and was ready for use by 1186.
Glastonbury Abbey Archaeology (includes digital recreation)
In the 14th century, as the head of the second wealthiest abbey in Britain (behind Westminster Abbey), the Abbot of Glastonbury lived in considerable splendour and wielded tremendous power. The main surviving example of this power and wealth is to be found in the Abbot’s Kitchen – part of the magnificent Abbot’s house begun by John de Breynton (1334-42).