On 2 February Abba Seraphim chaired a well attended day seminar on “Glastonbury Abbey – Influence and Legacy” organised by the British Orthodox Church. It was held at the Abbey House in Glastonbury, across the lawns of which the impressive ruins of the mediaeval abbey stand. It was a crisp and sunny day and both the abbey and the town were bathed in sunlight. It was universally agreed that all four lectures were both informative and engaging and during the intervals in the proceedings, there was a relaxed and sociable interchange between lecturers and ‘seminarians’.
Dr. Cheryl Green opened proceedings by talking about the Glastonbury Abbey Excavation Archive Project, which has been analysing and reinterpreting the records of previous excavations made between 1908-1979. Her enthusiasm was matched by her helpful plans and matching slides as she explained some of the exciting discoveries and possibilities opened up by the project. Professor Michelle Brown, who engaged her audience with her brilliant knowledge and command of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, showed how the wider cultural context impinged on Glastonbury Abbey and introduced documents known to have emanated or been kept at the Abbey before its Dissolution. Dr. Tim Hopkinson-Ball, whose previous studies on Glastonbury have dealt with its more recent history, showed a facile command of its mediaeval history and concentrated on the pre-eminence of the Marian cultus at Glastonbury. Dr. Adam Stout, who has previously dealt with Glastonbury’s little known 18th century history traced the development of the traditions concerning St. Joseph of Arimathea and how they were used as religious propaganda by both Catholic and Protestants. The last two speakers have both made notable contributions and original research to much neglected aspects of Glastonbury’s rich history.
It is hoped to publish some of the papers in the Glastonbury Review.
Among British Orthodox clergy present were Father Simon Smyth, Father Martin Lee (Sidmouth) and Deacon John Stuart (Exeter).
Following the conclusion of the seminar, Father Thomas Cook, a priest of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, led Vespers at St. Margaret’s Church in Glastonbury.