Reprinted from Newsletter 92, dated 1999 July–August

Restoration work on St John’s porch


Work is underway to restore and clean the front and inside of the porch at St John’s Church, particularly the damaged stone seats. Ken Ellis conservators, of Shepton Mallet, are doing the work, which is funded by the Friends of St John’s. Work is also taking place to save two little-seen crosses at the back of the church.

Alan Tarbat, in his guidebook Let’s Walk Round Glastonbury, writes:

In the churchyard is one of the holy thorns that “blossom at Christmas, mindful of Our Lord.” Behind the building (north wall) are two “mortuary crosses” — crucifixes really — one fairly distinct, the other all but obliterated. The former is at the bottom of the rood-loft stairway, the latter on the north side of the tower. Readers (and who dare not be?) of Craik’s Last Abbot of Glastonbury will think, as they enter the (south) porch, of Cuthbert’s ghostly and only too prophetic vision of the “fetches” on All Hallow E’en.

Alan Tarbat, sadly no longer with us, wrote his guidebook during World War II. It is full of interest for the conservationist. It was reprinted and revised several times by the old Glastonbury Advertising Association but is now out of print.

The final paragraph reads:

Glastonbury is the mother of saints. Everyone knows that. But others have tried to foist on to her their bastard children, Sloth, Slatternliness and Sentimentality: and her skirts have indeed been soiled. Yet a Venetian blind (hideous monstrosity that it is) cannot fail to let in some sun: and the beauty of magic-named Avalon succeeds in pushing through everything. Glastonbury is still “the holyest earthe in England”.