In my last post, I referred to Pomparles Bridge as ‘legendary’ — and so it is. But while that Pomparles Bridge was in the same location, give or take, as the present-day bridge, they are not the same thing. The visitor, misty-eyed and semi-delirious from the effects of Arthurian tales, nerves tingling with the notion of sighting the Lady of the Lake, will be crushingly disappointed with the reality.
Glastonbury Tor shifted from prehistory into the kind of history we now called legend when Caradoc of Llancarfan, a Welsh monk, published his Vita Glidae (‘Life of Gildas’) in the early twelfth century.
The English countryside was once a refuge for writers and artists of slender means. The life was peaceful, the air was fresh, and the rents were cheap. But like exotic plants transplanted to alien soil, they brought their own peculiarities to their new habitat. And they could arouse suspicion and sometimes loathing in the natives.
Abbot Richard Whiting of Glastonbury Abbey was one of the few heads of religious orders to put up any resistance to Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Glastonbury was the last abbey left in Somerset and Whiting refused to hand it over to Henry’s agents. This was a principled stand but not one that would end well for the abbot.
You have never been a patient man and this waiting is gnawing at your bowels. The council of war has been held and tomorrow you and your whole motley crew are marching to the Somerset Levels. You’ve been told there are 10,000 men waiting on the marshes to join you but you don’t believe a word of it.