Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wandering Wednesday: Glastonbury—Holiest Earth in England

By Donna Fletcher Crow @DonnaFletcherCr

 I don’t remember where I first read those above words, but I’ll never forget the impact they made on me. As a devout Anglophile who prays daily for spiritual renewal in England, I knew Glastonbury would be an important place to me.

 And then the wonderful “Chariots of Fire” movie came out, popularizing “Jerusalem” also known as “The Glastonbury Hymn” from the William Blake poem:

        And did those feet in ancient time
        Walk upon England’s mountains green:
        And was the holy Lamb of God,
        On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

 I wasn’t sure what it meant, but somehow it gripped me.

 My first opportunity to walk upon Glastonbury’s green mountains came in 1985 when I was in the west of England with my then editor researching what has become my Where There is Love series. I included a side trip to Glastonbury in our itinerary.

My epic novel Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England, was born as we were leaving when my editor read aloud from a pamphlet she had picked up at a bookstall:

“‘Did our Lord ever come to Glastonbury as a lad? The story lingers not only here, but elsewhere as well. The tradition is that our Lord, entrusted to the care of his Uncle Joseph of Arimathea by his mother Mary, daughter of Joseph’s elder brother, accompanied Joseph on one of his expeditions to Britain to seek metals for his flourishing trading company.’”

 I gave a shout of laughter. “What? That’s crazy!”

 But Carole kept on. “No, wait, this is interesting. It says, ‘Perhaps there is some truth in the tradition which still lingers in Somerset that St. Joseph of Arimathea came to Britain first as a metal merchant seeking tin from the Scilly Isles and Cornwall, and lead, copper, and other metals from the hills of Somerset, and that our Lord Himself came with him as a boy. The tradition is so startling that the first impulse is to reject it summarily as ridiculous.’”

“It sure is,” I said.

 But Carole kept on. “‘Amongst the old tin-workers, who always observed a certain mystery in their rites, there was regularly a moment when they interrupted their work to sing a quaint song beginning, “Joseph was in the tin trade.”

“‘If this is so, it is quite natural to believe that after the crucifixion, when the church was dispersing under persecution and in answer to the Great Commission, Joseph and his party would come to this land with which Joseph was already acquainted.

 “‘Among the cherished possessions the little band brought with them was the cup used at the Last Supper in Joseph of Arimathea’s Jerusalem residence, an ordinary cup in everyday use in his house, now become a sacred treasure, since with this cup of olivewood our Lord had inaugurated the new covenant.’”

Now my imagination was captured as I mused, “What a novel that would make!”

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of some 40 novels, mostly dealing with British Christian History. The Arthurian epic Glastonbury is her best-known work. She currently authors 3 mystery series:The Monastery Murders,The Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense Series, and Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime novels. You can see more on her website.


  1. Memories. What fun to relive those early days.

  2. I remember reading Glastonbury years ago - epic (and fascinating) for sure! Then to discover the author is here as part of this group that's pretty epic too! Thanks Donna for the hard yards in writing Glastonbury, and for your photos and post today.

  3. I remember the movie Chariots of Fire. I love the story. I didn't know as much about the song Jerusalem but I always associate it with the English cricket team. Just this year when the Barmy Army (English Fans) were singing it you could see the English captain on the field also singing it. Love the photos.

  4. Thank you for sharing your memories, Carolyn and Jenny! I wonder who remembers the featuring of Glastonbury in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics?