Do your pupils understand the history of Somerset?
In Year 7 and 8 there is a unit on Medieval Realms, taking the history of England from the Norman Conquest to Tudor England. The story of the rise and fall of the Abbey provides a useful backdrop to explaining the tensions between Church and State which culminated in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Class sized groups can experience a presentation in the Abbot's Kitchen about the medieval Abbey and can explore the ruins with a costumed guide or with their class teachers.
We occasionally offer a day, linking Wells Cathedral and Glastonbury Abbey to show the effects of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the local area. Drama group leaders are brought in to create short dramas on the Trial of the Last Abbot, Richard Whiting, and on the effect of the closure of the Abbey on the townspeople of Glastonbury. Please contact the Education Officer for further details. Extra charges apply for this programme.
This abbey has been attracting pilgrims since its earliest days from all corners of the world, and continues to do so today. The story of pilgrimage, past and present, provides a focus for pupils to begin to explore their own responses to faith issues.
Whole class groups can tour the ruins with the Living History team, hearing the stories that brought the medieval pilgrims to this site and looking at the spirituality that inspired their journeys. Groups can be taken on a short pilgrimage to the site of the Glastonbury Thorn on Wearyrall Hill (allow at least an hour of your day for this activity). Work booklets and talks in the Abbot's kitchen also available.
A day spent at the Abbey and in the surrounding area can deepen the awareness of pupils for their own locality. The Abbey provides a link from Roman times to the present, a record of social history as well as spirituality. The legends associated with King Arthur and the Glastonbury Thorn provide food for the imagination and the town of Glastonbury contains many additional resources. There is the Iron Age Lake Village Museum as well as the Rural Life Museum and a walk up Glastonbury Tor or Wyrall Hill shows the geography of the Levels and the needs, past and present, for management of our environment to support the economy of Somerset and the Mendips. Many of the activities we can provide are designed to deepen understanding of the history and geography of the Somerset Levels and the challenge of a scramble up the Tor provides an outlet for energy as well as a teaching opportunity.