Monday, 20 August 2012

Glastonbury - Chalice Well & Wells Cathedral

It was great that all things I wanted to see were in easy walking distance from the hotel. After a good nights 'ghostless' sleep we set off for The Chalice Well, one of the most loved holy wells in the UK. The Well and surrounding gardens are a peaceful, spiritual sanctuary to soothe the soul and restore spirits. People come here to experience the healing properties of the Well and the 'Red Spring' or 'Blood Spring'. The legend is that the blood of Christ spurted from the ground when Joseph of Arimathea washed the cup used at the last supper. The water was very rich in iron and too much is not recommended. I felt full of the essence of life after a few sips!
Both The Well and the Gardens lie in a stunning vale between Chalice Hill and The Tor. The gardens rise up following the course of the waters to the source at the well head. The water provides 'energy' as well as the healing properties.

 King Arthur's Court and Healing Pool

Just a few miles away lies the beautiful cathedral city of Wells. Named after the three wells dedicated to St Andrew. Wells Cathedral is the seat of The Bishop of Bath and Wells who lives nearby in the Bishops Palace. Built between 1175 and 1490, Wells Cathedral has been described as “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals”. The magnificent West Front (1230) contains one of the largest galleries of mediaeval sculptures n the world. It is an illustration in stone of the development of Christian faith right through the twelve apostles with Christ. Inside there were some fascinating clocks. On the North Transept is an amazing astronomical clock dated between 1386 - 1392. The dial is a geocentric view of the universe, with sun and moon revolving round a central fixed earth. Above the clock and to the right is a figure, known as Jack Blandifers, who hits bells with a hammer held in his right hand and by hitting his heels on two bells hung beneath him. A set of jousting knights also chase each other every 15 minutes.
Vicars'Close is claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with its original buildings all surviving intact in Europe. It is made up of 27 residential Grade 1 residencies dating from mid 14th Century.

Glastonbury - Abbey & Tor

A lovely way to spend a Birthday! Down in Somerset at Glastonbury staying and staying at a 600 year old coaching Inn steeped in history and old folk law. Not to mention it's own resident ghost and playing host to Henry VIII as he watched the Abbey burn , more of him later. It really was like stepping back in time. In fact we had been told that it was not unusual to hear Harps and flutes in the rooms. It wasn't long before my heightened senses detected a crude medieval Recorder type sound circulating. Unfortunately the excitement was soon crushed as I discovered a busker below the bedroom window. Famous for it's music festival although the site is being 'rested this year Glastonbury is Glastonbury is a place of religious tourism and pilgrimage due to it's location at the centre of ley lines. Just wandering up the High Street it was clear that the residents were certainly a 'New Age' community!
Glastonbury Abbey is the earliest Christian sanctuary in Britain and legend says Joseph of Arimathea brought Jesus here. History records show the Abbey was standing in the year 600. In 1184 it was rebuilt after a fire, the remains today date from 1184 - 1539. It was then during the Dissolution of the Monasteries that Henry VIII had it demolished. In 1191 legend also says that the monks found the buried remains of King Arthur and Queen Quinevere. This was promoted by medieval monks who insisted that Glastonbury was Avalon. ( the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged).
Behind St Patrick's Chapel is the Holy Thorn Tree which is said to have originated after Joseph of Arimathea plunged his staff into the ground and it burst into leaf.
Glastonbury Tor is a very steep hill with St Michael's Tower perched on the top. Tor is actually a Celtic word for outcrop or hill. It is truly a stunning site and somewhere I have wanted to visit for years. Remains of a 5th century fort have been found on the Tor. Glastonbury Tor is often cited as one of the possible locations of the Holy Grail. One of several myths along with The seven deep, roughly symmetrical terraces that are one of the Tor's enduring mysteries. I do know that the climb to the top was exhausting but well worth the effort for the spectacular views afforded from the top.