Glastonbury. A word that makes most of us think of only one thing – the world famous music festival (22nd – 26th June this year), but there’s more to this small town in Somerset that one weekend a year.
There is so much more going on in Glastonbury than most people realise, the town itself is a joy to behold, and at just a 35 minute drive away from Lakeside, it’s well worth a visit during your stay. Steeped in history Glastonbury offers several authentic glimpses into rural Britain, first and foremost the stunning Abbey.
Glastonbury Abbey is considered to be the first Christian sanctuary in Great Britain. Legend has it that Saint Patrick once visited, as did Joseph of Arimathea and Saint David and it is also rumoured that King Arthur and his wife Queen Guinevere are buried there. The picturesque 37-acre grounds of the Abbey are truly beautiful, and provide the perfect place to enjoy a day of peace and tranquility. Costumed living history presenters are on hand to give guided tours, and in the new Visitor’s Centre, there is a Museum with items from the Abbey’s collection on display. The Abbey is open every day except for Christmas days at varying times throughout the year and has car and coach parking facilities on-site.
Entry fees are payable either at the gate on the day of your visit, or discounted tickets are available by pre-booking them online. If you so wish, you can also add a vo
luntary donation to the cost of your ticket – which helps fund conservation of the Abbey. Prices are as follows, shown as Gate Cost / Online Cost:
With Donation: Adults: £7.60 / £7.00, Students and Senior Citizens (Over 60): £6.60 / £6.00, Children 5-15 Years: £4.75 / £4.40 and Family Tickets (consisting of 2 Adults and up to 3 Children) are £19.60 / £18.00.
Without Donation: Adults: £6.90 / £6.00, Students and Senior Citizens (Over 60): £6.00 / £5.00, Children 5-15 Years: £4.30 / £4.00 and Family Tickets (consisting of 2 Adults and up to 3 Children) are £17.80 / £16.00.
The Abbey also hosts events throughout the year, and Saturday 11th June see’s a huge open day event in honour of the Queen’s 90th Birthday. Entry to the event is free and runs between 4pm and 8pm.
If you enjoy walking and taking in some of nature’s finest scenery, Glastonbury Tor is about a 10 minute walk from the Abbey, which will take you past Chalice Well to the foot of the Tor.
Seen rising out of the Summerland meadows from miles in all directions, the Tor is situated atop a Holy hill and is thought to be the home of Gwyn ap Nudd – the Lord of the Underworld and King of the Fairies. Recent speculation suggests that it is the remains of a three-dimensional Neolithic labyrinth – whether this is the case or not, the labyrinth circles the hill seven times and takes up to six hours to walk! Better get those walking boots buttoned up tight! The Tor bus stops outside the Abbey car park and takes you to the foot of the Tor, where you can walk up to the top as no vehicles are allowed and no parking is available. Ticket prices for the bus are £3.00 for Adults, £1.50 for Children (up to 16 years of age) or you can purchase a Family Ticket for 2 adults and 2 children for £7.50. Entrance to the Tor is free, but donations are happily welcomed.
Another treat for those after a day outside is the Glastonbury Millennium Trail, a circular walking trail with markers that provide a tour of the town and its history. Explore the Pump House (built in 1752), St. John’s Church Tower with its Bagpiper which originate from the late 1400’s) and Gropecuntlene – a short cut to St. Benedicts Church. Originally called the Church of the blessed Saint John the Baptist of Northbinne, St. Benedicts Church was one of the seven local churches under the jurisdiction of the Abbey of Glastonbury.
There is also St Margaret’s Chapel, the Magdalene Almshouses (open to visitors) and the Quiet Garden – which has been part of Glastonbury Abbey since the 13th Century.
As Glastonbury was originally an island, the remnants of its surrounding water are still in evidence, with two springs mere feet apart at the base of the Tor. The White Spring is sweet with calcium and leaves a white trail and the second spring has a metallic taste from its iron content, and leaves a red trail where it flows.
This is just a short overview of some of the spectacular sites to be found in Glastonbury. There is so much more to see and discover – such as Chalice Well, one of Britain’s most ancient wells, and Wearyall Hill, where Joseph of Arimathea set his staff in the ground for it to sprout and become the Holy Thorn.
So whether you are visiting Lakeside, or are taking a trip to the festival, make sure you take the time to experience all the amazing and unique features of this lovely spot in Avalon.