A photo tour of Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Abbey was founded in the 7th century and expanded by St. Dunstan, the Abbot of Glastonbury in the 10th century and by 1086, it was the richest monastery in England. Of special interest is the legend connecting the site of the abbey to the burial place of King Arthur as well as Joseph of Arimathea. As I had been fascinated by the legend, my sister decided to make a stop at the abbey on our way back from Wells.

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According to the exhibition at the abbey museum, there was an old church made of mud and wood on the site, the origin of which is not clear but there are various legends surrounding it. However, the fire of 1184 destroyed any traces of this old church and the Lady chapel was consecrated on its site in 1186.

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When the medieval St. Joseph’s crypt was constructed under the Lady chapel, it became a popular destination for pilgrims. The crypt was rededicated in 2015 by the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

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On the side of Lady chapel is a marker of a grave. While there are many stories connected to this grave, a popular story that is mentioned on the abbey’s website is that monks needing to raise funds to rebuild the abbey after the fire, dug up this grave in 1191 searching for the bones of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.

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They were then re-buried in a black marble tomb in the then newly constructed abbey church in 1278.

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The ruins of the Great church, though not having survived to the extent of Lady chapel, are also quite majestic.

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The best preserved section of the abbey is the Abbot’s kitchen, which was built in the 1300s, and was used to provide meals for the abbot and his guests.

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Facing the kitchen was the ruins of the refectory, marked as the monastic ruins on the abbey map.

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The abbey grounds cover 36 acres of parkland. I was not up to walking around the entire parkland but I did stop and pause by some lovely benches to rest and observe the ruins.

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Another site of interest to the visitor to Glastonbury would be the Glastonbury Tor. Having walked a lot that day, my sister was concerned that I would find it too much to climb and with the clouds opening up as I finished my visit to the abbey, we decided to turn away with a brief glimpse of the Tor, from a distance.

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Disclaimer: The Bath Tourism Office kindly gave me a complimentary media pass to Bath and regional attractions, during my November 2016 visit to south west England, for the purpose of this post. This pass allowed me free entry to Glastonbury Abbey. All opinions are my own and I only recommend experiences I have enjoyed.

[Linked this post to The Weekly Postcard and Weekend Travel Inspiration]

Travel Notes & Beyond
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Highlights of Bishop’s Palace

Bishop’s Palace dates back to early 13th century, when the first Bishop of Bath and Wells – Bishop Jocelin Trotman – received permission to build a residence near the cathedral. I decided to visit the palace, after attending the morning service at Wells cathedral and exploring the area around the cathedral.

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Since there was some time before the palace opened for visitors, I decided to walk around the moat area. What caught my attention first was the sleeping pigeons on the branches of a tree. IMG_1104.JPG

As I walked further along the moat, I came upon the famous swans of the palace. Since a Bishop’s daughter had taught the swans to ring the bell for food in 1870, a tradition of training the resident swans to ring the bell has been followed. I came upon this little herd gliding by. They didn’t ring the bell during my walk though. Visitors interested in feeding the swans, or other birds, can purchase bird food from the palace shop.

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The view of the cathedral and the palace from a garden near the moat was lovely, despite the heavy clouds in the sky.

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I was back at the gatehouse at 10am and was the first visitor of the day. From one end of the croquet lawn, there was a lovely view of the main entrance of the palace as well as the entrance to the chapel.

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I decided to leave the interior of the palace for last and turned towards the ruins of the Great Hall, through which I stepped into the south lawn.

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Walking through the lawn, I reached the ramparts and climbed up the steps. I had read that the Glastonbury Tor could be seen from the ramparts. Perhaps because it was a cloudy day, I could not see the Tor, though I thought I had spotted the hill in the distance. The land behind the palace had been the Bishop’s deer park in the past.

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I walked across the length of the rampart and climbed down to the formal gardens behind the palace.

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Walking past the gardens, I came to a little wooden bridge that crossed the moat and led to the most important part of the city.

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I took one of the paths curving around the well pool, which gave the city its name, and whose water fed the moat around the palace.

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After walking around the garden of reflection, I decided to explore the interior of the palace. I first visited the lovely little chapel.

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After spending some time in the quiet chapel, I made my way to the entrance porch of the palace and entered the entrance hall. One of the Bishops had a habit of dining with 12 poor men and women at the table at the centre. While the entrance hall is part of the original 13th century construction, the fireplace near the table is a later addition.

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Through a door at the end of the hall, I entered the Undercroft, which had also been part of the original medieval palace.  It is now available for hire for events.

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Climbing up the Jacobean stairs, I came upon the long gallery which had the portraits of the different Bishops of Wells. The long gallery led to the drawing room, where there were some objects on exhibit. I found the Abbots chair and the Glastonbury chair of interest. According to the information sheet by the oak chair, the Glastonbury chair was a term used to refer to wooden chairs in the 19th century. However, this particular Glastonbury chair was made for John Thorne, who was a monk and a treasurer at Glastonbury abbey during the dissolution and who was subsequently executed at Glastonbury Tor in 1539.

The room next to the drawing room is currently used as a conference room and during my visit, had an art exhibition going on. Both rooms together used to be the great hall.

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The last room open for visitors on this floor was the solar, which had an art installation of an angel during my visit.

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I walked back down the steps and lingered by the croquet lawn, for my last snaps of the palace, before I left Wells.

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What feature of the Wells Bishop’s palace fascinates you the most?

[Linking this post to City Tripping #68 and Wanderful Wednesday]

MummyTravels

Wanderful Wednesday

Special Six: Morning at Wells Cathedral

Wells, the second smallest city of England in terms of its population size and geographical area, has been a city since medieval times due to the cathedral. I had been fascinated by Clare’s (Suitcases and Sandcastles) mention of the oldest complete medieval street left in England on her post on Wells city. So, I asked my sister, during my weekend stay with her, whether we could visit Wells. She decided that we would go for the Sunday Holy Communion service at Wells Cathedral.

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When we arrived at the cathedral around 7.30am, the entrance was closed. Someone pointed out a door on its West Front that had been left open for those coming for the service.

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At the end of the hour long service, my sister and I decided that we would meet up on the cathedral green near the entrance in a few hours as I had wanted to wander around. Since it was a Sunday, the daily cathedral tours by volunteers was not available. I asked permission to take a few photos of the Quire area from a church staff preparing for the next service. While I would have loved to explore the rest of the cathedral, especially its chained library, I did appreciate having been part of the morning service which I would not have been able to had I visited on a weekday.

What catches one’s attention as you walk into the cathedral through the west front are the Scissor arches which, according to the cathedral website, had been added in 1338, when a new spire added to the top of the tower threatened to collapse the whole structure.

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The 14th century stained glass windows of the Jesse window was impressive. While the windows narrowly escaped destruction during the English civil war and was protected during the second world war, the windows have been deteriorating over time. A protective glazing has been added to the exterior of the window and conservation work undertaken to preserve the beautiful window.

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The Quire area, where the morning service had been held, is one of the oldest part of the cathedral and is beautiful.

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The present organ was rebuilt in the 1970s, with the original instrument having been built in mid 19th century, with pipework from late 18th century.

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While I had been eager to see the famous 14th century astronomical clock at the cathedral, considered the second oldest clock mechanism in Britain, and its two famous jousting knights and Quarter Jack, I could not see it within the cathedral as I could not wander around. However, there was a clock on the exterior face of the wall, facing the Vicar’s Hall, that was connected to the same mechanism as that of the clock inside.

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I walked further and came upon the Vicar’s close, the medieval street that had intrigued me.

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Built to house the Vicar’s Choral, which is an all male group, it still continues to be inhabited by successive choral groups.

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At the end of the close is the Vicar’s chapel and library.

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Returning to the Cathedral green, I sat on one of the benches overlooking the west front and admired the cathedral while taking a break.

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Have you visited Wells Cathedral? What aspect of the cathedral intrigues you?

[Linking this post to City Tripping #67 and Faraway Files #22]

Wander Mum
Suitcases and Sandcastles

A couple of hours in Castle Combe

One of the mornings during my stay at Lacock village, I had walked around the village a few times and was passing the bus stop, when I decided to check the bus times on a whim. I found that there would be one passing by, in a few minutes, in the direction of Chippenham. As there were still a few hours before the abbey or any of the stores in the village opened, I decided to take the bus and transfer to the Castle Combe bus in Chippenham. I had been intrigued by this village in the Cotswolds but had decided to make the decision on whether to visit it, once I was in Lacock. Decision made, I made my way to Chippenham and transferred to the Castle Combe bus.

Reaching Castle Combe, I found that I would have two hours to roam around before the next bus came to the village. So, I started my walk at the centre of the village, where the bus had dropped me off, at the market square.

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The 14th century market cross was installed when the village was granted the privilege of a weekly market. Near the market cross, the remains of the 19th century butter cross can be seen.

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Facing the market cross was St. Andrew’s church. Some parts of the church are from the 13th century while others, like the tower, was built in the 15th century.

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At the entrance of the church, there was a sheet with explanatory notes for parents and teachers. It was from the sheet that I learnt that the East window above the altar was a Jesse window showing the ancestry of Jesus.The only female figure in the sixteen figures portrayed in the window was that of Mary.

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I also learnt that the tomb within the church was that of Walter de Dunstanville, Baron Castlecomb and lord of the manor in 12th century. The monument is the oldest within the church.

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There is an interesting 15th century clock in the church, which was an hour clock whose bells the farmers working in the fields would listen to.

After my visit to the church, I decided to walk past Castle Inn and under an interesting arch, onto Park lane. The archway cottage is actually part of the accommodation facilities of the Manor House hotel. I had been told that I could access the gardens of the Manor House hotel, which was open to the public, through a pathway off Park lane but I couldn’t find the path and it looked like as if it was a private residential area so I turned back.

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I decided to drop into Castle Inn for a hot cup of coffee. I was the only customer at that time and I made myself comfortable by the fireplace, as I enjoyed my coffee.

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After the refreshing hot drink, I walked out of the inn and took the second road away from the market square. The White Hart pub had been open in the village for the past five centuries.

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This second road, that I was walking along, was the road that the bus had entered the village. There were two buildings that caught my attention on this road. I looked them up later and learnt that one was called the Castle house. This building was originally built as an alehouse called the St George and had been built by Nathanial Elver in 1672.

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Right next to the Castle house is the Dower house, which has the shield of the Scope family, above the door. This house was featured in the 1967 musical Dr. Dolittle. More recently, Downtown Abbey was filmed in the village.

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There was a footpath leading upwards, away from the road, opposite the Dower house and I took that path.

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After a very short distance, I decided to turn back as I had wanted to explore the third street in the village and I thought the forest trail would be a lengthy one.

Walking back to the market cross, I looked at the famous view of the third street that I had seen in so many photos.

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At the start of the street is the Court house, where proceedings were held in medieval times. I think it is someone’s home now as I saw a family coming in and going out of the building, while I was waiting for my bus later.

Opposite the court house and next to the bus stop is a memorial for villagers who died in the first world war.

Walking down that street, I reached the Bybrook bridge. I kept taking many photos, as I admired the pretty buildings overlooking the brook.

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I continued along that street, until I came across another little bridge, and then decided to turn back as it was nearing the time for my bus.

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The old village is tiny and basically has three streets going away from its centre, where the church and the market cross are located. If I had stayed overnight in the village at the lovely Castle Inn, I might have had time to explore the village away from its centre and especially its fascinating forest trails as well as looked for the Roman bridge. As it was, I had a lovely walk around the village’s three main streets for a couple of hours before I headed back to Lacock village.

For ideas on other pretty villages in the Cotswolds to visit, do check out Katy of Untold Morsels’ suggestions for a weekend in the Cotswolds.

[Linking this post to Wanderful Wednesday and Faraway Files #20]
Wanderful Wednesday

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