The Tribunal, Glastonbury, Somerset


Glastonbury, The Tribunal
c.1910
Publsher: The Pictorial Stationery Co., London

Google Street View.

The Tribunal in Glastonbury, Somerset, England, was built in the 15th century as a merchant’s house. It has been designated as a Grade I listed building. The history of the building is not well documented, although the majority of the present stone house was constructed in the 15th century on the site of a 12th-century wooden building. The current front wall was added in the 16th century. It has been used as a merchant’s house and possibly a shop and school. It was thought that it was the venue for court proceedings, hence the title Tribunal, however there is no evidence this ever occurred. One of the ground floor rooms still has the window and ceiling panels from the Elizabethan era. The front room upstairs has an arched braced, wooden, truss roof. . . . The house owes its name to the fact that it was formerly mistakenly identified with the Abbey’s tribunals, where secular justice was administered for Glaston Twelve Hides. The name may have been first used by John Collinson in his History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset in 1791, however when investigated by Richard Warner in 1826 he could not identify where the name had originated. It was also thought to be the site of trials by Judge Jeffreys for the Bloody Assizes after the Monmouth Rebellion.

The current building was constructed in the 15th century on the site of a wooden building dating from the 12th century. In the 16th century a new facade was added to the original building. It is possible that the stonework and window of the front wall were removed from the abbot’s lodgings behind the great kitchen of the Abbey as similar features can be identified in a 1712 engraving, and it is known that the building was ruined and without its front wall by 1723. The door is original and above it are a Tudor rose and the arms of Richard Beere who was Abbot of Glastonbury from 1493 to 1524.
Wikipedia.

The well-preserved Glastonbury Tribunal is thought to have been a 15th-century merchant’s house and a residence for one of Glastonbury Abbey’s officials.
The name ‘Tribunal’ comes from the belief that the building once housed the abbey’s tribunals, a courtroom where justice was administered for managing the abbey’s vast estates. More recent historical research suggests that the building was not, in fact, used as a tribunal, but the name is so well-established that it will probably be known as the Glastonbury Tribunal as long as it stands.

The facade facing onto the High Street is typical of late medieval and Tudor houses at ground level. A projecting bay was added at first-floor level in the early years of the 16th century and you can clearly see where the addition joins to the older medieval stonework. Over the doorway are heraldic shields carved with symbols of the Tudor rose and the arms of Abbot Beer, who died in 1524. The ground floor has internal divisions added in the centuries following construction. One ground-floor room retains its fireplace and you can see linenfold panelling below the window opening. You can easily spot places where corbels helped support an upper floor, and where the medieval stairs stood. The rear ground-floor chamber has a panelled ceiling.
Britain Express

The building is a typical late medieval house, with a separate kitchen block at the rear. A passage leads from the front door through to the courtyard at the back. The present façade with its projecting first-floor bay was added in the early 16th century: the construction joints are clearly visible in the masonry. The Tudor rose and the badge of Abbot Beer (died 1524) have been reset over the entrance to the passage. Within the house, several internal partitions were added when the building was let to different tenants later in its history.

The ground-floor front room retains its arched fireplace with recesses on either side, and below the window the wooden panels, carved to imitate linen folds, date from the 16th century. Scars on the wall show the location of the medieval stairs, and corbels or supports mark the position of an upper floor. The room at the back was the main chamber and has a fine panelled ceiling; the four-light window in the north wall is original, while those in the east and west walls were inserted in the 17th century. The kitchen block at the back of the house is a separate building added in Elizabethan times. The first floor, which now houses the Lake Village Museum, repeats the arrangement of the ground floor. The main room at the front extends over the entrance passage and retains its fine original open roof.
English Heritage

Taunton Castle, Taunton, Somerset


Taunton Castle
Postmarked 1905
Publisher: ETW Dennis & Sons

Google Street View.

Taunton Castle was at the heart of a great Somerset estate owned by the bishops of Winchester. Lands belonging to the bishops were scattered over seven English counties, and reached to the banks of the Thames at Southwark. But Taunton was their largest estate, occupying thousands of acres in the Vale of Taunton Deane. A residence for the bishops and a minster church evidently existed at Taunton during the Anglo-Saxon period. But it was in the 12th century that the present Castle began to take shape. It was most of all an administrative centre and a status symbol, which welcomed royal guests including King John and his son Henry III. Occasionally it was also tested in warfare. In 1451 the Earl of Devon, a Yorkist, was besieged at Taunton by the Lancastrian Lord Bonville. And it was at Taunton Castle in 1497 that Perkin Warbeck, the failed pretender to the throne of Henry VII, was brought before the Tudor king as his prisoner.
. . .
The Great Hall continued to be used as a law court until 1858, as well as for public meetings. In 1831 a speech given there by the wit and orator Sydney Smith turned the tide of national opinion in favour of Parliamentary reform. But the Castle began falling into decay and was only rescued when in 1874 it was purchased by Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.
The Museum of Somerset

…here, upon the edge of one of the inosculating branches of the sluggish stream, Ine founded his castle by throwing up banks of earth girdled with deep and formidable ditches, and no doubt further strengthened by stockades of timber, or at best by walls the workmanship of which scarcely deserved the name of masonry. Such as it was it was destroyed, that is, burned, by Queen Æthelburh in 722, who probably however left the earthworks, the better part of the defence, much as she found them. . . . Within this area, occupying its north-east corner and about a quarter of its extent, is the inner court or citadel of the place, roughly rectangular, and measuring about 123 yards east and west, by 73 yards north and south. Its east and north faces rest upon the main ditch and the river, and its south and west faces are covered by a curved ditch, artificial, which gives the eastern outer ditch a second connexion with the river, and divides the outer, called “Castle Green,” from the inner court. The position was a very strong one, having the river, and beyond it a morass, towards the north, or threatened side, and to the south a ditch, in part double, and always filled with water.
. . .
What occurred here, and by whom occupied, or what changes took place between the reign of Ine and the end of the eleventh century is not known, but the Normans, accustomed, as far as practicable, to occupy the Saxon seats, soon perceived the advantages held out by the position and earthworks at Taunton, and William Gifford, who held the lordship as Bishop of Winchester in the reign of Henry I., seems to have decided upon building a regular castle. His successors, bishops of Winchester, were much here, and the castle received much addition at their hands, especially in the early Decorated period, of all of which traces more or less considerable still remain.
“Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II”, George Thomas Clark, 1884

The earliest archaeological features identified at the site include a large number of human burials; the majority were recovered from the area which subsequently became the castle’s outer ward, though several burials were situated within the inner ward. These burials provide evidence for an extensive late-Saxon cemetery associated probably with the minister church that was established in the late 7th century and is referred to in historical records. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the cemetery was active from the late 7th century up to the C11.
Historic England


Plan of Taunton Castle “The castles of England, their story and structure, Vol. II”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p. 71

The entire enclosure, surrounded by river, stream, and moat, contains about seven acres, the inner bailey or citadel occupying its N.E. corner. Nothing remains of the outer walls of the lower bailey except a considerable part of the E. gatehouse, defending the entrance on that side to a road which passed through to the W. side, where the gatehouse has disappeared ; there were drawbridges at each of these entrances over the moat and stream, and on the other side of these were wooden barbicans, some timbers of which have been dug up. None of the buildings exist now of the lower ward,— Bishop Fox’s school being, of course, early sixteenth-century work. A good deal of the Norman building of the inner ward remains ; on the W. side is a portion of the rectangular keep, forming part of the wall along the inner moat, and measuring about 50 feet by 40, with walls 13 feet thick. The stone vaulting of its basement remains, and there was a staircase in the N.E. corner, from which extends the outer wall, forming, as at Leicester, the wall of the great hall.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, Vol. II”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p. 72

Taunton Castle was extensively modified during the Tudor era when its defensive arrangements were downgraded in order to convert it into a more comfortable residence. Large windows were installed in the Inner Ward Gatehouse and Great Hall. A Grammar School was also built within the castle’s walls in 1520 by Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester. The nearby Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539 but the castle remained property of the church until 1551 when it was transferred into Royal ownership. It was recovered by the Bishops of Winchester in 1577.

During the Civil War Taunton was staunchly pro-Parliament but the wider area was in the Royalist sphere of influence. The populace hastily re-fortified the castle but, in June 1643, both it and the town were taken over by the King’s forces. They held it until 5 June 1644 when Taunton was taken by a Parliamentary force under Colonel Robert Blake. He fortified the town with extensive earthworks and by August 1644 he was besieged by Royalist forces under Sir Edmund Wyndham. They attempted to storm the town and succeeded in forcing Blake’s men to retreat into the castle but the arrival of a Parliamentary army under the command of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex led to the Royalists withdrawing. The respite was short-lived however as Essex was defeated at the Battle of Lostwithiel (1644) giving the King complete dominance in the area. By September 1644 Taunton was besieged again this time by George, Lord Goring. Various relief efforts enabled Taunton to keep on resisting and neither the castle nor town fell. On 11 May 1645 the siege was lifted and, with the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Naseby in June 1645, meant the threat to the town substantially reduced although one final (and unsuccessful) attempt to take the town was made in June 1645.

The Civil War left deep anti-Royalist feelings amongst Taunton’s residents who opposed the Restoration of Charles II and initially refused to hand over the castle. This resistance prompted the new King to order the demolition of the castle in 1662. The Keep bore the brunt of this and was reduced in height to its foundations.
Castles Forts Battles

Dunster Castle, Dunster, Somerset


Dunster Castle
1940s
Publishers: Dearden & Wade, Bournemouth

Google Street View (approximate).

Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle, now a country house, in the village of Dunster, Somerset, England. The castle lies on the top of a steep hill called the Tor, and has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period. After the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century, William de Mohun constructed a timber castle on the site as part of the pacification of Somerset. A stone shell keep was built on the motte by the start of the 12th century, and the castle survived a siege during the early years of the Anarchy. At the end of the 14th century the de Mohuns sold the castle to the Luttrell family, who continued to occupy the property until the late 20th century.

The castle was expanded several times by the Luttrell family during the 17th and 18th centuries; they built a large manor house within the Lower Ward of the castle in 1617, and this was extensively modernised, first during the 1680s and then during the 1760s. The medieval castle walls were mostly destroyed following the siege of Dunster Castle at the end of the English Civil War, when Parliament ordered the defences to be slighted to prevent their further use. In the 1860s and 1870s, the architect Anthony Salvin was employed to remodel the castle to fit Victorian tastes; this work extensively changed the appearance of Dunster to make it appear more Gothic and Picturesque.
Wikipedia.

Glastonbury Tor, Glastonbury, England


Glastonbury, The Tor
c.1910
Publisher: Francis Frith, Reigate

Google Street View.

The conical shape of Glastonbury Tor is natural. Thousands of years ago it was an island. Before modern drainage, the Tor in winter would have towered above the flooded Somerset Levels. The terracing on the hillside has been dated to Neolithic times, around the same time as when Stonehenge was constructed. It has been suggested that the terraces form a kind of maze that guided pilgrims up the sacred hill.

The hill has a long religious history with evidence of Pagan and early Christian settlement on it. If you walk to the top of of it today you will find the partial ruins of a church. The top of the Tor was levelled at some point in the 10th or 11th century to build a large stone church. In 1275 an earthquake levelled this church. A smaller church was rebuilt on the site in 1323 and lasted until the demise of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. The church was quarried for stone and now only the tower survives.
BBC: Seven Man Made Wonders

Excavations on the Tor have revealed some Neolithic flint tools and Roman artifacts, indicating use since ancient times. The terracing on the side of the hill, if man-made, may also date from the Neolithic era. The first monastic Church of St. Michael that stood on Glastonbury Tor was probably destroyed in the major earthquake of 1275. The church was rebuilt in the 14th century, and only the tower still stands today.
Vintage News (lots of photos)

During the late Saxon and early medieval period, there were at least four buildings on the summit. The base of a stone cross demonstrates Christian use of the site during this period, and it may have been a hermitage. The broken head of a wheel cross dated to the 10th or 11th centuries was found partway down the hill and may have been the head of the cross that stood on the summit. The head of the cross is now in the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. The earliest timber church, dedicated to St Michael, is believed to have been constructed in the 11th or 12th centuries; from which post holes have since been identified. Associated monk cells have also been identified.

St Michael’s Church was destroyed by an earthquake on 11 September 1275. According to the British Geological Survey, the earthquake was felt in London, Canterbury and Wales, and was reported to have destroyed many houses and churches in England. The intensity of shaking was greater than 7 MSK, with its epicentre in the area around Portsmouth or Chichester, South England. A second church, also dedicated to St Michael, was built of local sandstone in the 14th century by the Abbot Adam of Sodbury, incorporating the foundations of the previous building. It included stained glass and decorated floor tiles. There was also a portable altar of Purbeck Marble; it is likely that the Monastery of St Michael on the Tor was a daughter house of Glastonbury Abbey. In 1243 Henry III granted a charter for a six-day fair at the site. St Michael’s Church survived until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 when, except for the tower, it was demolished.
Wikipedia.

View from Worlebury Camp, Weston-Super-Mare, England


View from the Roman Encampment, Weston Super Mare
Publisher: G.D. Coulsting, Weston-Super-Mare

The white stuff across the bottom of the image is the stones of the hillfort’s ramparts.

Google Street View.

Worlebury Hill Fort Group

The Megalithic Portal

Worlebury Camp (also known as Worlebury Hillfort) is the site of an Iron Age hillfort on Worlebury Hill, north of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England. The fort was designed for defence, as is evidenced by the number of walls and ditches around the site. Several large triangular platforms have been uncovered around the sides of the fort, lower down on the hillside. Nearly one hundred storage pits of various sizes were cut into the bedrock, and many of these had human remains, coins, and other artefacts in them.
Wikipedia.

The large multivallate hillfort on Worlebury Hill is an outstanding example of its class. It survives well and is known from excavations to contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed and later reused. This example is unusual in terms of its location as hillforts on this scale are rarely situated on coastal promontories.
Historic England.

Vivary Park, Taunton, England


Taunton, Vivary Park, “Feeding swans”
Postmarked 1907
Publisher: Francis Frith & Co, Reigate

Google Street View (approximate, stream is in the other direction)

The public park came about because it’s so close to the centre of the town. The land had been used as for public events since at least 1851 when the first Taunton Flower Show was held there. It was sold to the council in 1894 and a year later it was laid out. The front gates, bandstand and one shelter date from this time. In 1902 an oak tree was planted close to the bandstand to mark the coronation of Edward VII. With money left over from the celebrations, the fountain was commissioned as a memorial to the late Queen Victoria. It was unveiled in 1907. The park originally formed a part of the open setting to Wilton house. The park was extended to include part of the garden of Wilton House in 1924. Vivary Park is a good surviving example of a late Victorian public park.
Somerset West and Taunton Council

The park stands on land that was formerly a medieval fish farm, or vivarium, for Taunton Priory and Taunton Castle. Although nothing remains above ground of these lakes, they are the origin of the name Vivary. . . . Long before the park was publicly owned, it was known as Vivary Park and was used for some public events. It was lent by William Kinglake to provide the site of the West of England Show of 1852. He was also sympathetic to the Bristol and Somerset Total Abstinence Association and allowed the park to be used for its Public Tea Meeting and Demonstration on 17 August 1852. The first exhibition of the Vale of Taunton Deane Horticultural and Floricultural Society was held in the park on 21 and 22 June, 1855, and in 1883 a ten-day ‘Temperance mission’ was held in the park, at which “as many as 1,500 new pledges” of abstinence from alcohol were made. . . . Two decades [after 1875, Vivary Park was still owned by the Kinglake family, but in 1894 they sold it to the Municipal Borough of Taunton for £3,659 (equal to around £230,000 in 2010), to encourage healthier lifestyles and to provide recreational opportunity for the urban working class, as set out in the Public Health Act of 1875.

The arrangement of the park is still very much as was when first laid out in 1895. It is entered through a pair of cast iron gates, dating from 1895, made by the Saracen Foundry of Glasgow, who also made the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain of 1907. Since 2000 the fountain has been restored, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the park was re-opened by Queen Elizabeth II in May 2002. The bandstand also dates from 1895, while two huge oak trees were planted in 1902 to mark the coronation of King Edward VII. Just within the main gates, the war memorial was erected in 1922.
Wikipedia.

Milsom Street, Bath, England


Milsom Street, Bath

Google Street View.

Milsom Street in Bath, Somerset, England was built in 1762 by Thomas Lightholder. The buildings were originally grand town houses, but most are now used as shops, offices and banks. Most have three storeys with mansard roofs and Corinthian columns.
Wikipedia.

Milsom Street was the fashionable shopping street in Bath: “Do you know I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine in a shop window in Milsom Street just now,” enthuses a friend of Catherine Morland, Jane Austen’s heroine in ‘Northanger Abbey’. It was also a fortuitous street for chance meetings: “in walking up Milsom Street, she had the good fortune to meet with the Admiral. He was standing by himself at a printshop window, with his hands behind him, in earnest contemplation of some print…”
British Library Online Gallery

Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, England


Glastonbury Abbey – Judges Ltd
Publisher: Judges Ltd

Google Street View.

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 First Christian Church in Britain.”

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.
Wikipedia

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


Choir & Site of High Altar, Glastonbury Abbey
c.1920
Same publisher as “Abbot’s Kitchen” card at bottom

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Vicars’ Close & Wells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset, England


Vicars’ Close, Wells
No date or publishers clues (About 1920, give or take a decade.)

The body of Vicars Choral has been in existence since the 1100s, singing the daily round of divine services in the Cathedral in place of the canons. Initially they lodged among the townsfolk rather than on Cathedral grounds, allowing them to succumb to worldly temptation. To rectify this unsatisfactory situation, in 1348 Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury founded a College of Vicars, of whom there were more than forty, and provided a communal hall and buildings for accommodation grouped around a quadrangle, in much the same manner as an Oxford or Cambridge college. Bishop Ralph also endowed the Vicars with a landed estate which provided them with a small income. In the early fifteenth century a chapel was built for the Vicars, and the quadrangle was converted into a street, now known as Vicars’ Close. Largely undisturbed, Vicars’ Close is the oldest continually inhabited street in Europe and still houses the organists and the men of the choir, as well as other employees of the Cathedral.
Wells Cathedral

The first houses on this attractive street, close to Wells Cathedral in Somerset, were constructed during the mid 14th century and the street was completed about a century later. The area was initially used to house a group of chantry priests. Although changes and improvements have been made over the years, the properties are still essentially the same as they were centuries ago. Almost all of the 27 houses on Vicars’ Close are protected as grade 1 listed buildings. The street derived from a significant land grant by the canon of Wells Cathedral, Walter de Hulle. The chantry priests were supported by the rents from tenants who lived on the land.

During the 12th century, the group of clergy who served the cathedral were responsible for chanting the divine service eight times a day and were known as the Vicars Choral. At the end of the street is the Vicars’ Hall which housed several communal and administrative offices relating to the Vicars Choral. In particular, was a room associated with the collection of rents used to support the clergy. This hall contains a gateway that links Vicars’ Close to St Andrew Street.

Atlas Obscura

The residences are built of stone from the Mercia Mudstone Group. There were originally 22 houses on the east side and 20 on the west. They line each side of a quadrangle which appears longer than it is because of false perspective achieved by building the houses at the upper northern end nearest the chapel 9 feet (2.7 m) closer together than those at the lower southern end closest to the Vicars’ Hall. Each house originally comprised a ground floor hall of approximately 20 by 13 feet (6.1 by 4.0 m) and an upper floor of the same size. Both had a fireplace in the front wall. Washing facilities and a latrine were outside the back door. The date of some of the buildings is unclear but it is known that some had been built by 1363 and the rest were completed by 1412.
Wikipedia.


Wells Cathedral  [View] from North West

Street View

Abbot’s Kitchen, Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, England

Postcards of Glastonbury Abbey


Abbot’s Kitchen & Refectory, Glastonbury
c.1920

Google Street View.

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).
Glastonbury Abbey

To the south-west of the cloister, a separate complex of rooms provided grand accommodation for the abbot and his guests. Today, the standing buildings consist of the kitchen and one corner of the giant hall, begun after 1322 and completed by 1342. They formed parts of a palatial residence of three ranges, arranged around a central walled garden.
Glastonbury Abbey Archaeology (includes digital reconstruction)

The Abbot’s Kitchen is a mediaeval octagonal building that served as the kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. It is a Grade I listed building. The abbot’s kitchen has been described as “one of the best preserved medieval kitchens in Europe”. The stone-built construction dates from the 14th century and is one of a very few surviving mediaeval kitchens in the world.

Historically, the Abbot of Glastonbury lived well, as demonstrated by the abbot’s kitchen, with four large fireplaces at its corners. The kitchen was part of the opulent abbot’s house, begun under Abbot John de Breynton (1334–1342). It is one of the best preserved medieval kitchens in Europe and the only substantial monastic building surviving at Glastonbury Abbey. The abbot’s kitchen has been the only building at Glastonbury Abbey to survive intact. Later it was used as a Quaker meeting house.
Wikipedia.

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