THE ABBEY OF GLASTONBURY is one of those to which a peculiar interest has been always attached. The boldness of its legendary history, which claims for its site the privileges of being that on which the first Christian church was erected in our island, and the burial-place of King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea : also the peculiar architectural character and beauty of the chapel which now bears the name of St Joseph, its singular plan and position; and lastly, the picturesque remains of the great church itself, little inferior to the chapel in beauty, and of the celebrated kitchen and barn;—these furnish sufficient grounds for the interest which has been maintained up to our own time, and has made this place the theme of so many writers, ancient and modern, that the subject might appear to have been exhausted in all directions.
Yet it must have been perceived by the readers of these writers, that the interpretation of the documentary evidence, with reference to its application to the buildings, is still enveloped in indecision and conjecture.
Yet few monasteries have left to us a better collection of historical documents, including the memoranda of Leland and William of Worcester, both written before the Reformation, or furnish a more instructive example of the manner in which such buildings were carried on and altered. My first acquaintance with these venerable ruins in 1863 convinced me that the cloud of vague conjecture which still hung over their architectural history might be partly dispelled by a personal and repeated study of the structures themselves, combined with a careful analysis of the chronicles and records, selecting from them those passages only which have reference to the arrangement and purposes of the buildings, the time and mode of their construction, the manner of raising funds for that object, and the motives which caused them to be undertaken.
This in fact is the system that I have pursued throughout my researches into the Architectural History of so many Cathedrals and Monasteries, and the following pages contain the result of its application to Glastonbury. Several visits to the ruins, employed in sketching and measuring; alternating with the home examination at leisure, of the documentary evidence; have emboldened me to assert with confidence the identity of the so-called chapel of St Joseph with the Lady chapel of the Abbey church and with the site of the original wicker church or “Old Church,” the “Vetusta Ecclesia” of William of Malmesbury, and thus not only to fix the date of this most valuable piece of transition work to the year 1184, but to identify a spot, which, without crediting the tradition
literally which assigns the date of the “Old Church” to A.D. 63, was certainly occupied by one of the very earliest of the British churches.
I have pointed out that the tradition of the visit of Joseph of Arimathea, hinted at by Malmesbury, and evidently neither really credited by him, nor held forth as one of the prominent attractions of the site up to his time or that of his continuator Adam de Domerham, was brought into excessive importance and made a source of profit and honour to the Monastery in the fourteenth century. Thus, finally, the popular name of St Joseph’s chapel has superseded the original dedication of the Lady chapel.
Lastly, I have shewn that the crypt is entirely a construction of the fifteenth century, inserted in a building which had no previous crypt, and have endeavoured to explain the steps by which this remarkable undertaking was carried out. As far as I know, this fact has escaped all previous writers.
IN MAKING A SHORT CONTRIBUTION TO THE EARLY HISTORY OF GLASTONBURY ABBEY I feel that I need offer no apology, as the old Tor itself, although 20 or 25 miles distant as the crow flies, is visible from my windows, and invites the attempt. More often than not it is draped in the mists that sweep up the Severn Sea from the north-west and lies half hid in the mirage of the moorlands. To write about the birth of Glastonbury is to write about a creation that has sprung from the sea, that has grown up silently in the weird marshes and meres of the “sea-moor-saetas,” and that loves to entangle itself in the magic mists of antiquity. Must we always adhere to the litcra scripta in speaking of Glastonbury? It is the land of legend, romantic figures, and shadowy heroes, and there is sometimes more substance to be found in these, especially when place names, topography, dedications, and the consentanea vox of antiquity confirm them, than in the litera scripta of the monastic scriptorium, where the greatest efforts of the Benedictine pens were directed to invent, to simulate, and to forge, so that the detective genius of a Stubbs can hardly winnow the true record from the false. No, we must ransack many storehouses to know and understand this ancient Somerset monastery, not the least or most unimportant of them being those of memories and magic associations that sway men’s feelings and enlist their eternal sympathies. Unlike any other monastery it has handed down from the earliest times the record of a national faith and the lamp of Christian revelation dimmed at times by errors and obscured by the turmoil of national changes, still enduring, with vitality of its own, through British, Saxon, and Norman times. Occasionally we look through a mist and magnify accordingly, idealising what may have been commonplace, but the spirit of the place invites it. And so let it be!
THE substance of the following work was originally published as miscellaneous papers in a monthly periodical during the year 1839, and collected at the close of the series as a separate tractate. The present republication has been suggested by the favourable reception and speedy sale of the first rough sketch already presented to the public. During those intervals of time when the writer has found himself released from other engagements, he has endeavoured, to the best of his ability, to gather up the precious fragments which remain in the works of historians of acknowledged authority respecting the primitive Church of Britain, that no part of so valuable a treasure might be lost. If nothing more has been effected than merely collecting and arranging the materials of our early Church history, and placing them in a light best calculated to convey instruction, it will be a satisfaction to have exerted even the feeblest effort.
The particular period of history discussed in the following pages is one of considerable interest to the ecclesiastical student, embracing as it does an account of the rise and progress of the infant Church of our country, and the triumphs of the faith over druidical mythology and Roman paganism. From the title of his work, it will be perceived that the writer has confined himself almost entirely to the Church history of this early period, and has only indirectly referred to its civil and political, with a view to illustrate its ecclesiastical affairs. Of the invasion of Britain under Julius Caesar, and again under Claudius—its struggles for liberty under Caractacus, Boadicea, and others— the rise of the British tyrants—the desertion of the island by the Romans—the irruption of the Picts and Scots—and the establishment of the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, much has already appeared in the volumes of those who have written expressly on the civil and military transactions of Britain.
The origin and true nature of our social and political institutions must ever form a subject of peculiar interest for the study and reflection of every Englishman; but to the Christian who believes that the Church is the divinely appointed channel for conveying the precious gifts promised by God to his people, its introduction into his native land must be a matter of no common importance. He looks back on its earliest dawn with pleasing retrospection, watches its progress with intense solicitude, and at every step feels a personal interest in all the vicissitudes of its eventful history.
The picture on the front of this tract depicts the visit of the Duchess of Kent, to the Vatican. It is now twelve months since her Royal Highness became a convert to Rome. She was the first member of the Royal Family to do so.
This event, provoked some Roman Catholic Clergy to comment with some jubilation, that the Duchess of Kent’s conversion signalled the conversion of the British Throne back to Vatican Rule! They may be a little bit premature in their celebrations; But there is no doubt that there is a move in our Nation both Politically and Religiously, and this move is leading us back in to the Roman Fold.
Rome has a tradition that those who are non-Catholics and especially if they are women, that they must dress in black if they are having an audience with the Pope. This no doubt is to convey their inferiority to the Pope, who claims to be Christ’s earthly representative.
When anyone, whether they be Royalty or not, who submit to the authority of the Pope they are upholding one of the great errors of the Church of Rome; which is the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility and the Papal claims that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ. There is a clear lesson to be learned. No one can turn away from the truth without being engulfed in a greater error.
Papal Infallibility is not only unscripturable but it is also repugnant. But the claim that the Pope is Christ’s Vicar, is blasphemous. No one who has had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, (who is the real Vicar of Christ) could ever countenance such a blasphemy.
We were all saddened by the Duchess of Kent’s conversion to Roman Catholicism; but when you consider the attitude of her former church; which was the Church of England, and the comments which emanate from its leaders. It is all too obvious that they have already one foot in Rome.
THE PURPORT OF THE FOLLOWING PAGES is to exhibit, in one view, the various features of the ancient Church of Cymru during its metro-political existence. A work of this nature was always desirable, but the want of it was never, perhaps, so much felt as now, when ecclesiastical antiquities are so generally canvassed among Christians.
It is true that we are already in possession of several treatises relative to the religion of our Catholic ancestors; and the learned authors who bequeathed them to us ought not to be mentioned except in terms of respect and gratitude. Still we are free to confess that their researches are not of a form sufficiently systematical, plain, and comprehensive, to suit the cravings and capacities of the ordinary reader. Subjects of main interest only, such as the origin, government, or independence of the Church, have been expressly investigated, whilst particulars, apparently of minor importance, have been left wholly untouched, or but incidentally and subserviently noticed.
Some of the writers may have conducted themselves also more as advocates in support of their respective positions, than as candid and impartial historians. Some have couched their facts and opinions in a language inaccessible to the community at large. And all have more or less confounded the character of the Cambrian with that of its sister Churches in the northern and southern provinces of Britain.
Further, those who have endeavoured to describe the historical progress of early Christianity in
the island, have either stopped with the mission of Augustine, or else deviated in an Anglican direction, overlooking afterwards not only the distinctive character, but even the very existence of the Church of Wales.
Hence it was necessary, that, whosoever wished to be fairly acquainted with any of its details, should cull his information, by a laborious process, from different and scattered fields. These considerations denote that the accounts which hitherto we have of the ancient British Church are far from complete. The present volume is therefore intended, not by any means to supersede them, but in some measure to supply their deficiencies, and that with especial reference to Cymru.
The Church of the Cymry is selected, not merely because former writers have delineated it less correctly than its neighbours, but rather inasmuch as it was the original, and therefore the legitimate communion of the land. For thus may be truly applied to that people as a Church, what was said of them as a nation: “No one has any right to the isle of Prydain but the tribe of the Cymry, for they first settled in it,” i.e. as Christians. Possessing the primary see, their archbishops could justly claim patriarchal jurisdiction over all the dioceses in the island.
THIS little book cannot claim to be either “high-church” or low-church.” It is written in the belief that both those party terms are becoming obsolete, and that the Churchman of the future will be content to be a faithful Christian, and an honest man, thinking highly of the Church and lowly of himself. The writer hopes, however, that it will be found to have a certain breadth, since one cannot have a real Catholicism without catholicity; and if there is a word in it which is not Evangelical, he would wish it withdrawn by this preface. He has kept in mind, throughout, the friendly cheer which comes to us in these happier days from our separated fellow-countrymen on the one side and from the Orthodox Churches of the East on the other ; nor has he been forgetful of the debt we owe both to the Roman Church of earlier days, which sent the Gospel to our Western Islands, and with it the service-books from which our own is so largely derived, and also
to the Lutheran and other Reformers, who won for us some part of our Christian freedom. “Excellent courage our fathers bore.” Only to those on each side he would plead that, if anything in these pages displeases them, they should remember the other side. Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book is written for Everyman; and, after all, the Master whom we are each trying to follow is above all our divisions, rebuking our uncharities, and blessing every step we take along that Gospel way which is narrow to us only because we come so far short of God’s infinite breadth.
Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book is for Everyman, endeavouring to present that amount of matter which Everyman ought to know something about. The author has already written a very small introduction to the subject, called The Prayer Book, What it is, and he has avoided repeating from that little work more than seemed necessary, so that it may be taken, with one or two pamphlets, as a manner of appendix, completing what he has tried to say.
THIS SMALL VOLUME is sent forth by its author, with the earnest hope that it may afford some little information concerning a spot most dear to the Antiquarian, and deeply interesting to many whom the facility of modern travelling annually conveys to behold these noble and celebrated Ruins.
Much of its material was originally delivered at Glastonbury in the form of a Lecture. And as some brief and truthful narrative of the Abbey was greatly needed and demanded, it was earnestly requested that it might be published as a sort of Historical Guide.
Yielding to these solicitations, although conscious of many defects, the writer is thereby released from any apology for publishing these memoranda, which might have been considerably extended, if the antiquated documents and charters belonging to Glastonbury Abbey had been incorporated. These curious and ancient records are reserved, together with the writings of John of Glaston, Eyton, and others, for a larger work.
WAS THE APOSTLE PETER THE FIRST BISHOP OF YORK? Many will say of course not, he was the first Bishop of Rome! While the fact that he was never first Bishop of Rome has been satisfactorily proved from Scripture and extant records and documents, but up to now very few were aware that there is good evidence that the Apostle Peter was in fact the first Bishop of York!
This lost information has been brought to light by, until recently, the unpublished book of the late Comyns Beaumont, “The Great Deception”. Comyns Beaumont, in his book produces overwhelming evidence that Peter was York’s first bishop.
From the very beginning of the Christian area York was a major centre of the Christian Church in the Culdee tradition. At one time the Diocese of York extended all the way to the Isle of Man, to include all of Scotland and on to the capital of Norway.
OVER EIGHTY YEARS ago there took place in the city of Dublin the infamous Easter Rebellion. Members of the Irish Republican Army and the Marxist Citizen Army knowing that the British Army was involved in a life-and-death struggle with Germany in the Great War, seized the General Post Office and surrounding area in Central Dublin and proclaimed an “Irish Republic”. What is not so well known and what in this ecumenical age has become suppressed history, is the fact that the Irish Republican revolutionaries and murderers had received the Papal Blessing on their actions. For the aim, then as now in the 1990’s was to create an all-Ireland state with Roman Catholicism as the State Religion.
THE TESTIMONY OF SISTER CHARLOTTE IS DISTURBING AND SHOCKING, but provides important insights into the worst of convent life as well as the dynamics of Romanism. It testifies with others such as “Maria Monk” and “The Martyr in Black The Life Story of Sister Justina” (Lord willing, both of these will be on the site one day) as well as the testimonies of former priests such as Chiniquy (The Priest, the Woman and the Confessional), Fresenborg (Thirty Years in Hell), and Hogan (Auricular Confession and Popish Nunneries). Sis. Charlotte’s testimony seems incredible but only because most people do not know the history of the Romish religion. One of our readers said this about Sis. Charlotte’s testimony–
Thank you for printing this testimony, I have been so troubled by what I have read and I can believe what she said because I worked as a waitress. And the priest and nuns would come in [and] order drinks while wearing the habit. I had a friend that confronted one of the priests and boy what a big blow up that was. He tried to get her fired and then they really started coming in with the habit on and getting drunk. We told them that it didn’t look good for children to see them drinking especially when they were godly people (in the children’s eyes.) It was very eye opening to say the least. So I can understand some of what the woman said. I would really like to pray for those other nuns. thank you for your site and information. SR
Here’s an excerpt from a modern day Roman cloistered nun:
(http://www.passionistnuns.org/vocationstories/findinglove/). This quote is supposed to make a convent sound good but read between the lines and you get a hollow feeling…
Being a Passionist Nun: I had always desired to enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus’ love for us in His sacred Passion. Where better than a Passionist Monastery where one takes a vow to promote devotion to and grateful remembrance of the Passion of Jesus? Flowing out of this main vow we take four other vows: Chastity, Poverty, Obedience and Enclosure. Prayer, penance, poverty, silence and solitude are a very important part of our spirit handed down to us by our Holy Founder, St. Paul of the Cross. Also, a deep love for our Spouse, Jesus in the Eucharist [a cracker Romans call “Jesus”]; devotion to our Immaculate Mother and fidelity to the Magisterium of the church attracted me to this hidden way of life, where prayer knows no bounds.
I think a lot of these women feel empty and want to get close to God. They think they have to “leave the world” for a religious life and of course the priests and nuns are happy to suggest joining a religious order. Not, “Get washed in the blood of the Lamb and born again,” but “Join our convent or monastery”.
THE ACTS OF UNIFORMITY ARE INCIDENTS IN A GREAT MOVEMENT. They are far from being the most important of its incidents. Their importance has perhaps been exaggerated, and their purport is commonly misunderstood. My object is to place them in their true relation to other incidents. It is useless to study them apart; they cannot be understood except as details of a connected history. I shall confine myself, however, to a narrow, question: assuming the general history, I shall ask how the several Acts of Uniformity come into it, with what purpose and with what ultimate effect. To study immediate effects would be to engage in too wide an inquiry.
We owe thanks to the men who drafted the statutes of the sixteenth century for their long argumentative preambles. These are invaluable as showing the occasion and purpose of the Acts. We shall not go to them for an uncoloured record of facts—their unsupported assertions will hardly, indeed, be taken as evidence for facts at all; but they tell us to what facts the legislator wished to call attention, and in what light he would have them regarded. The preamble of the first Act of Uniformity is among the most illuminating, and with its help we can assemble the facts in relation to which the purport of the Act must be determined.
We are in the year 1548. Important changes in matters of religion had taken place; greater changes were in prospect. The processions before High Mass on Sundays and Festivals, conspicuous and popular ceremonies, had been stopped on rather flimsy grounds, and a Litany in English substituted—the “English Procession,” as it was called. Many images in the churches had been destroyed, as superstitious; the censing of those remaining had ceased.
THE BIBLE FROM ITS OUTSET is a love story as the writers of this short booklet we believe that there are three main topics in scripture, the first topic is who God is, the second is who His people are and the third is the relationship between the two of them.
Today very few preachers make it clear to their listeners who His people are according to scripture. Not realising that the old testament books are really the new concealed and the new testament is the old revealed. We At The Truth Sets Free believe fundamentally what Malachi 3 v 6 declares ‘I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed’.
Isn’t it amazing that right there in this key passage of scripture Yahweh is defensive of Jacob. This very scripture is dynamite when we begin a study on the bride and the bridegroom.
To understand scripture its prophesies and fulfilment this topic is central and it can’t be understood without Yahweh’s law concerning the husband and wife.
….can claim apostolic foundation, unbroken continuity, and scriptural authority as the sole basis of its rule of faith and its form of government
The Rev. G. H. Nicholson, Burghfield rectory, Nr. Reading, Berks, England
(The Burghfield Parish Church is on the cover of this publication)
Some Glimpses of its Earliest History may be gathered from. the words of the following GREAT AUTHORITIES IN BYGONE CENTURIES.
Tertullian. A.D. 155-222. The Church’s first great genius after the Apostles wrote “The extremities of Spain, the various parts of Gaul, the regions of Britain which have never been penetrated by Roman arms have received the religion of Christ.” (Tertullian Def. Fidel, p. 179).
Eusebius. A.D. 260-340. The Church’s first great historian, wrote: “The Apostles passed beyond the ocean to the isles called the Britannic Isles.” (De Demonstratione Evangelii, Lib. Ill).
St. Dorotheus. Bishop of Tyre. A.D. 303 said: “Aristobulus, whom Paul saluted writing to the Romans (Romans ch 16. v. 10) was Bishop of Britain” (Synopsis de Apostol. Synops 23 “Aristobulus”). He also mentions by name another Disciple as visiting Britain. Simon Zelotes preached Christ through all Mauretania, and Afric the less. At length he was crucified at Brittania, slain and buried.” (Synopsis de Apostol. Synops. 9. “Simon Zelotes.”)
MY objects in writing this little book are to contribute a modicum of help to the movement in favour of vacation schools and school. excursions which has become so marked a feature of recent educational development, and to further the study of local history as part of the school curriculum, so far as the regulations of the Board of Education, at present, admit.
It is, happily, unnecessary to expatiate upon the benefits, mental and physical, which may be reaped by our children (evidenced by the excellent results already attained) by the judicious use of vacation schools and school journeys and excursions, because the subject has been thoroughly dealt with in vol. xii; of the series of Special Reports on Educational Subjects, issued in 1907 by the Board of Education.
With regard to the study of local history, there are, I believe, two methods which, combined, may enable school authorities and teachers to get good results. A book dealing with the subject can be selected as the continuous reader, which, supplemented by reference to large scale map by the teacher’s own comments, will give the children a general idea of the history of the country round about them, and, perhaps, though this depends more on the teacher than on the book, they may gather a little enthusiasm for the subject and some desire to know more about it.
The notion that there are interesting things to be found out about the towns, villages, and countryside by looking into their past story, having thus got into the children’s minds, excursions, under the power given by the Board for a Limited number of outdoor lessons in the course of each year, may be made to places of interest within a few miles of the school. The result will be that the children, coming into actual contact with existing historical monuments, handling, seeing, sketching, and measuring them (for they should be encouraged to do all these; of course, to do them in intelligent fashion), will apply the ideas got from the book to the concrete objects before them; and the end of all education, the development of their powers of observation, of putting two and two together, of drawing inferences, of weighing evidence, will be greatly furthered.
The following pages cannot supply more than an outline sketch of Durham history, and, perhaps, I may be allowed to suggest that Durham teachers would find help in this work of teaching local history if they were to get a first-hand acquaintance with, by visiting, again and again, the ancient churches- and buildings in their immediate neighbourhoods, and were also to read such a book as Parker’s Introduction to Gothic Architecture, with his glossary of Gothic Architecture at hand for reference, and Boutell’s English Heraldry. Then they might go on to digest what is to be found in Surtees’ History of Durham and Billing’s Architectural Antiquities of Durham about the places visited.