Thursday, November 5

Thursday Drive: Glastonbury Unplugged

Day One of a June 2003 visit to Glastonbury UK when no music festival, solstice, or lunar celebration was altering its natural rhythms.

On Magdalene Street, across from the entrance to
Glastonbury Abbey, looking toward Fisher's Hill.
The Market House Inn's sign hangs above its door,
and beyond the hotel are the Abbey Tea Rooms.

At the top of the hill and to the left is Bere Lane,
where I had a room at Apple Tree House.

Back garden of Apple Tree House (photo from its website)
This side of Bere Lane backs up to the grounds of the
once-magnificent Glastonbury Abbey.

No, this isn't part of the Abbey, it's the
Rural Life Museum, at the far end of Bere Lane.
The Chalice Well is farther along the road, and
towering above it all is Glastonbury Tor.

In 2003, Apple Tree House was one of the few
Glastonbury B&Bs with a real website, meaning with
photos of individual rooms, rather than just an e-addy to book
a room. I chose a bright, cheery single on the second floor
(first floor to Brits) at the back of the house. Although it
wasn't en suite, the beautiful bathroom next to it was
definitely worth the slight inconvenience.

That I checked in 3 hours late is a story in itself.

Around 11 that morning, I'd boarded a ferry at Cowes, on the Isle Wight, to Southampton, then a train to Westbury on the western edge of Salisbury Plain. At Westbury, I was supposed to take a train to (I think) Frome, then a local bus to Glastonbury via Street. (Yes, Street is the name of a town.) I'd made no provision for lunch as I planned to be in GB in time for tea.

Westbury Station turned out to be a glorified whistle stop, seemingly miles from any vestige of civilization. I stepped into the concession stand for a bottled lemonade, and while the girl was ringing it up, the connecting train came...and went! There wouldn't be another to (Frome?) for several hours!

I should mention while planning the trip, friends were adamant that Bath had to be part of the itinerary, but it was farther north than I intended (or desired) to go, at least this time.

You guessed it. The only option for getting to Glastonbury before Sue at Apple Tree canceled the reservation was a train to Bath due in 10 minutes, and from there a bus via Wells. So I did go to Bath after all, if only long enough to buy postcards in the station lobby and walk across the street to the bus terminal, where the bus to Wells and Glastonbury was already loading.

Being mid-afternoon and Brits being big on public transport, the bus stopped at every village between Bath and GB, picking up and dropping off school children as well as locals returning from work or weekly shopping. It was interesting that not all English villages are as quaint and charming as the travel brochures portray, but maddening when a signpost would boast "Glastonbury - 10 miles", but the next would increase to 12 or 15!

So back and forth we zigzagged from village to village, but the bus eventually stopped in front of Glastonbury Town Hall on Magdalene Street and from there I clickety-clacked my trusty rollaboard up Fisher's Hill to Bere Lane, got settled in at Apple Tree House, and because I'd missed lunch and afternoon tea, headed back down Fisher's Hill in search of dinner.

Going downhill toward the Town Centre.
I could claim I was snapping the clouds, but
really just found the hanging baskets charming.

Magdalene Street from foot of Fisher's Hill.
The Market Cross is at the right of the red van.

The wall at right borders the Abbey grounds.
The break in the foliage is possibly the entrance to a
small upscale hotel called Number Three, whose
website is quite vague about the exact location,
other than its address is #3 Magdalene Street.
This is the only part of Magdalene that fits.

Also at the foot of Fisher's Hill, on the other side of the street.

Forget what it housed, but a shortcut to Safeway is at right.
(This is a composite of three prints, btw - couldn't get far
enough back to frame the entire building in one shot,
and had to photograph it in sections instead.)

Market Cross, from near Man, Myth & Magik
on Magdalene. High Street is off to the right;
Northload Street goes off to the left.

Detail of the base of the Market Cross.

At last! Dinner!

Hawthorn's Hotel & Brasserie
8 Northload Street

When England was merry and a lot less olde, Hawthorn's may've been a Coaching Inn. It certainly had the feel of one. Low, beamed ceilings, uneven floors, tables and chairs as weary as the travelers who supped at them long before trains and cars existed. Travelers who then trudged up rickety stairs to the rooms above. If I'd thought to bring a book like the gentleman at another table, I might've dawdled over an after dinner pint before making my way back through town and up Fisher's Hill to my cheery room at the back of the Apple Tree. Better yet, had I known about Hawthorn's, I might've stayed there instead. Photos on its website look like it might've had a makeover since that evening, so I'm glad to have been there before it was spiffed up.

Other posts in the Glastonbury Series:
Abbey Tea Rooms (Tea Things Tuesday)
Round Glastonbury (Wordless Wednesday)
Glastonbury Abbey (Postcard Friendship Friday)

Have a great day!

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pinkpackrat said...

oooh you make me want to go there. I want to stroll the streets and stay at the Apple Tree House-- it all sounds too delicious.

JamaGenie said...

Doing this series reminded me I once vowed Glastonbury is where I'll move to when I win the big lottery. Meanwhile, I wouldn't pass up a chance to spend a week or two there!

Virginia Allain said...

Glastonbury brings to mind Elswyth Thane's book, Tryst. If you haven't read it, it is one of my favorites.