I was not in a position to add a blog on Friday! But here is one for you today.
Glastonbury Abbey was a rich and powerful monastery in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. Since at least the 12th century the Glastonbury area was frequently associated with the legend of King Arthur, a connection promoted by medieval monks who asserted that Glastonbury was Avalon. The abbey was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII of England. The ruins and associated buildings are open today as a visitor attraction.
King Arthur’s grave
In 1184, a great fire at Glastonbury destroyed the monastic buildings. Reconstruction began almost immediately and the Lady Chapel, which includes the well, was consecrated in 1186. There is evidence that, in the twelfth century, the ruined nave was renovated enough for services while the great new church was being constructed. If pilgrim visits had fallen, the discovery of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s grave in the cemetery in 1191 provided fresh impetus for visiting Glastonbury. According to two accounts by the chronicler, Giraldus Cambrensis, the abbot, Henry de Sully, commissioned a search, discovering at the depth of 16 feet (5 m) a massive hollowed oak trunk containing two skeletons. Above it, under the covering stone, according to Giraldus, was a leaden cross with the unmistakably specific inscription Hic jacet sepultus inclitus rex Arthurus in insula Avalonia (“Here lies interred the famous King Arthur on the Isle of Avalon”).
A specimen of Common Hawthorn found at Glastonbury, first mentioned in an early sixteenth century anonymous metrical Lyfe of Joseph of Arimathea, was unusual in that it flowered twice in a year, once as normal on “old wood” in spring, and once on “new wood” (the current season’s matured new growth) in the winter. This flowering of the Glastonbury Thorn in mild weather just past midwinter was accounted miraculous.
A spray of Holy Thorn from the Glastonbury Thorn tree was sent to the Sovereign each Christmas by the Vicar and Mayor of Glastonbury. The tree in the grounds of the abbey was pronounced dead in June 1991, and cut down the following February. However, many cuttings were taken from it before its destruction. The pre-1991 thorn in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey is said to be a cutting from the original plant which was planted in secret after the original was destroyed. Now only trees budded or grafted from the original exist, and these blossom twice a year, in May and at Christmas. The blossoms of the Christmas shoots are usually much smaller than the May ones and do not produce any haws. It is noteworthy also that plants grown from the haws do not retain the characteristics of the parent stem.
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