Reprinted from Newsletter 129, dated 2009 August

New chapter for the Abbey’s new century

Jim Nagel

Not only does Glastonbury Abbey have a new trust deed, but it has many new faces among the trustees. Several chose to retire this year, and several have to retire because they have reached age 75.

Moreover, Matthew Clements is retiring as custodian in October. The position is being advertised.

There are now 14 trustees. All are appointed by the bishop, and include ex-officio the vicar of Glastonbury, the archdeacon, the chairman of the diocesan board of finance and the diocesan education director.

The original Glastonbury Abbey Estate trust deed from 1908 was “worded in a nebulous way that didn’t make precisely clear what we could or could not do as a charitable trust,” said Susan Strong, the Abbey’s education officer.

The new Glastonbury Abbey Trust has stronger links with the diocese, though wording has been moderated: the old deed specified that trustees must be in communion with the Church of England; the new wording is more like “in sympathy” with the church. “We try to retain an opening and welcoming approach to everybody,” Susan said, “but there are restrictions to do with alternative forms of worship, because the precincts remain consecrated ground.”