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Rearing up sharply from the iron-flat Levels and visible for miles around is Somerset’s giant mystic hill – Glastonbury Tor © Ian Woolcock, Shutterstock
Glastonbury is a town quite unlike any other, a place where folklore and legends thrive.
Whatever your preconceptions of Glastonbury, they’re probably true. Ordinarily this’d be a fairly mundane little market town, were it not for a high street teeming with psychedelically painted shops, cafés and healing centres bearing names like Man, Myth and Magik, The Speaking Tree, and the Chocolate Love Temple, and an assortment of oddball characters – hippies, druids, knights, pixies (not real ones) – nonchalantly going about their business. But that’s really only the half of it. With over 70 different faith groups present, it’s little wonder that Glastonbury retains its own unique personality; there’s nowhere else quite like it in Somerset, or, for that matter, the country. Central to it all is the abbey, though there’s plenty more to keep you occupied if you’ve got the appetite and the stamina, including the Chalice Well and, nearby, the engaging Rural Life Museum. Not forgetting Glastonbury Tor, which is within easy walking distance of the town centre.
About halfway up the High Street, wedged between a pair of shops, is the Tribunal. Dating from the early 15th century, this handsomely weathered, two-storey medieval townhouse takes its name (erroneously as it turns out) from the time when it was purported to have been a bishop’s court, though there’s never been any evidence to support this and it was, quite likely, just a merchant’s house. Today, this venerable old building holds the Glastonbury Lake Village Museum (English Heritage), which recalls the history of the long-since vanished Glastonbury Lake Village, a local Iron Age island settlement discovered by amateur archaeologist Arthur Bulleid in the late 19th century. Among the many items retrieved by Bulleid (most of which were in an excellent condition owing to the preservational qualities of the peat-rich soil), the most impressive was a stash of some Bronze Age bone jewellery.