The ancient town of Glastonbury is synonymous without spirituality, mysticism and legend — and it’s an unmissable stop-off on our list of places in the 21st century Grand Tour of Britain.
Glastonbury Tor had been a sacred site before the arrival of Christianity. There was a holy well, fed by a spring that never ran dry; in Christian times, this came to be called the Chalice Well.
Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea — the man who took Christ’s body and placed it into the tomb following the Crucifixion — came to Britain, and specifically to the Isle of Avalon, back then an island surrounded by rivers and marsh. He brought two cups that contained drops of Christ’s blood and the chalice used by Him at the Last Supper. The chalice, or Holy Grail, disappeared, and the search for it became a prime object of the Arthurian knights (Arthur is supposed to have been buried at Glastonbury).
What didn’t go missing, at least until the 17th century, was an ancient thorn tree, said to have sprouted from the staff that Joseph stuck into the ground. (It’s said that Puritans who attempted to cut it…