The Prince of Wales will visit a Somerset landmark on Tuesday 8th July as he stops by Glastonbury Abbey.
The ruins of the Abbey will see the Prince take a tour of the Abbey, where he will see the conservation that has taken place, which is supported by the Abbey’s Rescue the Ruins appeal. The appeal, which is ongoing, has helped to fund conservation of the Abbott’s Kitchen, which reopened to the public recently in April, whilst work is currently under way on the Lady Chapel, and a project is being looked at on the medieval North Wall.
The history of the Abbey dates back to the Saxons, when they conquered the ancient county of Somerset in the 7th century. Ine of Wessex was their King and he is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the Abbey’s history.
In the 10th century, the church was enlarged by the Abbot of Glastonbury, St Dunstan, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 960.
Fire consumed the Abbey in 1184 and many ancient treasures were destroyed; consequently the medieval monks needed a new place to worship due to the destruction. There is evidence to suggest that the 12th century nave was renovated and used for the purpose of worship for over 30 years, until some of the work on the new church was completed.
One of the most turbulent times in the Abbey’s history came when King Henry VIII was on the throne. In 1537, Henry’s 28th year of rule, there were over 800 monasteries, nunneries and friaries in Britain; by 1541, there were none owing to Henry’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, whereby more than 10,000 monks and nuns had been dispersed. The buildings had also been seized by the Crown to be sold off or leased: Glastonbury Abbey was one of the principal victims of the King’s actions.
Janet Bell, director of Glastonbury Abbey said, “We are thrilled to be welcoming His Royal Highness to the abbey. For centuries the abbey has welcomed Royal and distinguished guests, all of whom were catered for from the facilities in the now newly conserved Abbott’s Kitchen. We welcome the Prince of Wales’ visit to the county as it will showcase the best that Somerset has to offer”.
Glastonbury Abbey is open to the public everyday of the year aside from Christmas Day, and gives people the chance to visit the legendary burial place of King Arthur, marvel at the Holy Thorn and consume the medieval lifestyle, amongst other things.