Glastonbury is the legendary origin of Christianity in Britain. For many centuries the church here has been in turn a focus of inspiration, scholarship, economic development, power, pilgrimage, sorrow and hope for the region and on occasions for the whole nation.
Through the centuries those living here have changed a small settlement on the edge of the marshes into a service town for the Abbey. It housed lawyers, administrators, priests and craftsmen looking after estates covering one eighth of Somerset. They pioneered land reclamation and rode high on the success of the wool trade. Their successors knew the desolation of the ruined Abbey and the empty, ruinous houses in the town for further centuries. Better communications, together with prosperity in local farming, led to the development of the town’s role as an agricultural market centre and then a source of employment in a range of industries, the latest being tourism.
We here trace the many factors that have influenced the development of the Glastonbury that we now live in or visit. We also consider the responsibility that we have to make sure that our successors can enjoy a town where the best of the past has been respected. We should now work to supplement this heritage with the best that we can build to form an environment that is good to live, shop and work in and also meets the needs of our many and varied visitors.