It took a mere five minutes to travel from Chalice Well to the entrance to Glastonbury Abbey on Magdalene Street near its intersection with High Street. David our tour guide got us through the admission process and then told us that we were free to explore the abbey grounds for as long as we wanted and then find a restaurant for lunch.
Some members of our tour bus group heading for the entrance to Glastonbury Abbey. The tower in the background belongs to St John the Baptist Church, built in the 16th century to provide religious services for local residents.
Statue of Sigeric the Serious near the abbey entrance. Sigeric was a Glastonbury monk who went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury. He is famous for the diary he kept while on a pilgrimage to Rome in the year 990. In his diary he noted all the stops he made in France, Switzerland and northern Italy and all of the churches he visited in Rome.
The first building we encountered near the abbey entrance was the recently-renovated St Patrick’s Chapel. The abbey received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant in late 2008 to repair and enhance the chapel that was built around 1500 to provide religious services for the abbey’s almshouse for women. The grant allowed restoration training to local artists and crafts persons. Fleur Kelly produced the frescoes and Wayne Ricketts designed the stained glass windows. These artists managed to include in their art all of the great legends associated with the Glastonbury Abbey and the restored chapel was re-opened to the public in early 2010. Religious services (Church of England) are held every Tuesday morning in the chapel.
The chapel’s East Window features St Joseph of Arimathea, St Patrick, St Dunstan (who was abbot of Glastonbury before becoming archbishop of Canterbury), St Michael Archangel standing on a dragon atop Glastonbury Tor, and St Brigid.
Four saints often associated with Glastonbury lore (David, Phagan, Deruvian and Dunstan) are portrayed on the north wall along with the last abbot, Richard Whiting, who was brutally executed when the abbey was closed by King Henry VIII in 1539. And there’s St Michael hovering over Glastonbury Tor.
The exorcism of St Mary Magdalene.
St Bridget with her spindle and bowl of fire. The famous Irish saint supposedly lived in Glastonbury for awhile.
The Blessed Virgin Mary with her rose and rosary.
St Patrick with his wolfhound and some of the snakes he drove out of Ireland. There are also shamrocks in every corner of the window. St Patrick visited Glastonbury and some say he died here but the people of County Down in northern Ireland claim otherwise.
After our visit to St Patrick’s chapel we walked around the ruins of what once was the greatest abbey in all of England. And that will be the subject of my next posting.