Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Glastonbury Abbey was an ancient Catholic monastery founded, according to legend, by St. Joseph of Arimathea. It was a major pilgrimage site and over the centuries grew very large and very wealthy on donations. When pilgrims started to slack off at the end of the 12th century, the Glastonbury monks rather fortuitously discovered the grave of King Arthur and Queen Guenevere on the monastery grounds. Business picked right up again.
All was well until King Henry VIII rejected the Catholic religion which refused to allow his divorce. After making England a Protestant country, he systematically destroyed and looted every Catholic monastery in his kingdom. In 1539, Glastonbury was utterly destroyed by the King's men. Its last Abbot was hanged, drawn and quartered on the Tor. Its immense wealth went straight into the King's coffers.
Since then, Glastonbury Abbey has been a magnificent ruin, as seen in the top photo. But it still draws many tourists and pilgrims. The bottom photos are of the ruined Lady Chapel (devoted to the Virgin Mary) and the alleged gravesite of King Arthur.