Holy Grail and Holy Thorn: Glastonbury in the English Imagination

Author(s): Richard Hayman 

ISBN: 9781781550496
$16.00 $23.00
An examination of why Glastonbury has so much resonance for the English, based around the notion that Joseph of Arimathea brought Jesus to England and was the first keeper of the Holy Grail.
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Holy Grail and Holy Thorn: Glastonbury in the English Imagination explores the legends of King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury and how their influence has been felt from medieval to modern times.

Joseph was said to have built at Glastonbury the first church in Christendom, which made it a centre of medieval pilgrimage, and gave Glastonbury an international profile in the fifteenth century.

Through the winter-flowering holy thorn, said to have grown from Joseph’s staff, and later the Chalice Well, Glastonbury remained a focus of superstition in the Protestant centuries.

In medieval romance Joseph of Arimathea had been the first keeper of the Holy Grail, a mystical past that was revived by Romantic writers and artists and ensured that Glastonbury retained a place in our national culture. In the twentieth century Glastonbury’s reputation was further elaborated by the belief that Joseph was the great-uncle of Jesus Christ, and that when he first came to Britain he brought the young Jesus with him, an idea suggested by William Blake’s

In the same mystical tradition, in the 1960s John Michell saw in Glastonbury the dimensions of New Jerusalem, which proved crucial in making Glastonbury the capital of New Age culture. 

BOOK ISBN 9781781550496
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Paperback
PAGES 192 pages
PUBLICATION DATE 15 September 2014
ILLUSTRATIONS 64 colour photographs and illustrations



Richard Hayman is a writer and archaeologist with a special interest in Britain’s historic landscapes and the history of the church. His previous books include Riddles in Stone: Myths, Archaeology and the Ancient Britons (1997), a study of how megalithic monuments have been interpreted over the centuries, Trees, Woodlands and Western Civilization (2003), A Concise Guide to the Parish Church (2007), The Green Man (2010) and Severn(2012), a cultural history of Britain’s longest river. He was educated at Cardiff and Birmingham Universities and lives near Shrewsbury.