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- Glastonbury Abbey, Visiting Glastonbury
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One of the most important abbeys in England Glastonbury Abbey is set in 36 acres of beautiful grounds and parkland. It is a centre for visitors from all over the world.
It was built 1,304 years ago in 712 AD and enlarged during the 10th century by the Abbot of Glastonbury St Dunstan.
From there on in, the Abbey had a dramatic and chequered history. It has experienced rises and falls in terms of its wealth and influence. By 1541 there were no monasteries, nunneries or friaries left in Britain; they had been sold by the crown.
Today the Abbey stands in ruins but is an impressive and fascinating place nonetheless and the scene of many legends. One of the most fascinating is of course related to King Arthur, the famous warrior. He is said to be buried in the grounds of the Abbey although no proof has ever been found.
Another fascinating legend is that of the Holy Thorn. This story begins in the 1530s, not long before the Dissolution of the Monasteries brought about the ruin of the abbey. There were three thorn trees growing on Wearyall Hill about a mile from the abbey.
What to see in Glastonbury
These trees were like no other because they bloomed not only in spring but also at Christmas. As a result, they were regarded as Holy. By the 17th century the Puritans had cut the trees down because they saw them as superstitious and as part of the "old way”.
Locals however had kept cuttings of their precious trees and from these cuttings at least one more tree was grown. That tree is to be found in the grounds of the abbey. Each year at Christmas, according to tradition, a budding spray is cut and sent to the Queen as a gift from Glastonbury.