Access Statement for Glastonbury Abbey - April 2015
This access statement does not contain personal opinions as to our suitability for those with access needs, but aims to accurately describe the facilities and services that we offer all our guests/visitors.
Welcome to Glastonbury Abbey. We are proud to be part of the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme through the tourism network of "Visit Britain". These notes are designed to help you plan your visit to the ruins of our beautiful abbey and the 36 acres of grounds in which they are set.
The abbey is situated in the heart of the small Somerset town of Glastonbury, set just south of the beautiful Mendip Hills and on the edge of the unique stretch of countryside known as the Somerset Levels. The Severn Estuary and a range of attractive seaside towns borders the land to the west, south of us you move into Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and to the east you will find the rolling hills of Wiltshire and a spectacular setting for many archaeological sites, culminating with the wonderful Stonehenge. Our nearest city is Wells, home to the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Our major cities are Bath and Bristol, an easy drive from Glastonbury, providing train links from across the country.
The land around Glastonbury is level, allowing you to spot Glastonbury Tor, rising up from sea level behind the town, easily identified by the Tower of St Michael on its summit, which once belonged to our abbey. The abbey is set at the foot of the hill, accessible from the town centre car parks. The buses from Taunton and Wells stop right outside the abbey. Staff will be happy to help make all aspects of your visit as trouble free as possible.
The whole site is set on a gentle slope, rising along a short driveway, underneath the old Gatehouse arch on Magdalene Street. There is also a more level access from the back of St Dunstan's car park on Magdalene Street giving access to our Ticket Office and shop. The abbey is set behind a perimeter wall that encloses our site. The grounds are mostly level or gently sloping, and all the main paths are large enough to take wheel chairs. There is a hearing loop at the counter in the shop and we have a manual wheel chair available for loan at the Ticket Office. An accessible WC is situated in the courtyard behind the entrance.
Directions to Glastonbury
The nearest major roads are:
- M5 (junction 23 and follow A39)
- A303 junction with A372 (Podimore roundabout)
- A337/A39 from Bath and Bristol
The nearest railway stations are:
- Bridgwater (14 miles)
- Castle Cary (16 miles)
- Yeovil (18 miles)
- Taunton (22 miles)
- Bath (27 miles)
- Bristol (28 miles)
Taxis are available from the stations.
Please ask to be dropped off at Glastonbury Town Hall, Magdalene Street which is adjacent to the abbey entrance.
Buses serving Glastonbury:
- There is one daily national coach service (Berry's) from London to Glastonbury and Street (distance 135 miles)
- 29 and 38 from Taunton (distance 22 miles); journey time: 1 hour 15 approx; Hourly, on the hour (29) and on the half hour (38)
- X75, 375,377, 37, from Wells (distance 6 miles); journey time: 15 minutes approx; regular services from Wells Bus station to Glastonbury Town Hall
- 376 from Bristol (distance 28 miles); journey time: 1 hour and 30 approx; every 30 minutes
- 669 from Shepton Mallet (distance 9 miles); journey time: 30 minutes approx; every 2 hours
- 668 from Shipham (distance 12 miles); journey time 1 hour approx
Glastonbury is a small town which has grown up around the walls of the abbey. The streets are paved and easily accessible. There are many shops around the Market Square and along the High Street which runs along the north wall of the abbey, rising gently towards The Tor. The streets can be quite busy and there are A-boards along the pavements in places.
Access information for visitors to Glastonbury
The Tourist Information Centre is situated on the High Street, 100m from the entrance to the abbey. The "Glastonbury and Street Guide" is available there (cost £1.00) and gives full information about the town and the surrounding locality.
Blue Badge designated parking spaces are available in all car parks across the town. There is a designated parking space for people with disabilities in the High Street opposite St John's Church and another in Magdalene Street, opposite the Town Hall, in front of the abbey entrance.
Toilets: Accessible facilities are available in the toilets situated on Magdalene Street and at St John's car park. These toilets can be accessed by RADAR keys. Glastonbury TIC, Glastonbury High Street, has a RADAR key available for a small deposit.
Currently there is no Shopmobility operating in Glastonbury. The nearest place is Street.
Wheelchairs are available at Clark's Village, Street; Weds - Saturday, tel 01458 440155.
Wheelchairs and scooters are available to hire from Mendip Mobility, 146 High St, Street; tel 01458 448355.
There is no road access to the Tor, but you can walk there within 30 minutes from the Abbey or take the Tor bus which brings you from St Dunstan's car park in the town centre, to the foot of the hill, but beware of the very steep stepped footpath to the tower at the top of the hill.
We have guides books in Braille available for visually impaired visitors. Costumed guides will be happy to show you around the site between Easter and the end of October.
Car Parking & Arrival
To allow time for a full visit to the abbey you will need to park for at least 2 hours. There are several car parks within walking distance of the abbey: St John's, Northload St West, Butts Close, Silver Street, Norbins Road and Magdalene Street.
The closest car park to the abbey is St Dunstan's Car park on Magdalene Street, which is 2 minutes walk from the abbey's gate and which also has an access point from the back of the car park directly to our Ticket Office of the abbey. There are 88 car parking spaces and 3 coach drop-off spaces. It is a 30m walk to the abbey's side entrance gate from the nearest parking space and approximately 60m from the coach drop-off area. There is no light leading to this gate. The gate has 39"/1m access and leads directly to the entrance courtyard of the abbey. The surface between the car park and the abbey is smooth Tarmac and there are no steps, ramps or other obstacles to negotiate.
There are 2 ticket machines. People in wheelchairs will find better access at the machine on the south side of the car park, nearest the public conveniences, than the one on the north side, which has a safety rail that restricts access for wheelchair users.
There is one Blue badge space in St Dunstan's car park which is free, but people with mobility passes may park in any space for free.
When you have parked in St Dunstan's car park, look towards the back of the car park (east) and you will see part of the abbey rising above the boundary wall. A short walk in this direction will show you the pedestrian access point for the abbey clearly marked and set into the corner of the Town Hall car park, no more than 30 m from the main car park.
There is also a drop-off point at the bottom of the main drive, with a dropped kerb, where people with mobility problems could be dropped off closer to the entrance. The abbey driveway, leading from the archway on Magdalene St to the abbey doors, is 57m in length. There is a short, (7m) section of stone slabs leading through the archway on to a Tarmac surface throughout the remainder of the driveway. It has a gentle slope set with seasonal plants in tubs along its length.
Doors to the Ticket office open outward and are held open except in very cold weather. Staff are on hand to assist people who have mobility problems at this point. Double doors can be opened as needed to allow access. All double doors are 32"/80cm wide, (single door opening) and 63"/1.6m wide when both doors are fully open. All the doors open outward and can be held open by bolts fitted to the base of the door. The doors are made of hardwood and include narrow glass panels. All glass conforms to current BS standards.
Main Entrance, Reception & Ticketing Area
The ticketing desk is immediately adjacent to the entrance area on the ground floor. There are no ramps or steps to negotiate.
There is a small ramp leading from the Ticketing area to the museum; the floor surface is smooth stone, lit well by windows and by overhead spot lights The payment desk is to your left as you enter and staff will be happy to assist you with information and help to facilitate your visit. It is our policy to allow complimentary entry for a carer accompanying a person with disabilities.
Seating is available in the museum. We also have a manual wheelchair for loan. Please ask at the Ticket Office or Welcome Desk. You can buy guide books either at the Ticket Office or at the Welcome desk.
The visit comprises 36 acres of parkland in which are set the remains of one of England's finest abbeys and what, even today, is the footprint of one of the largest churches in Europe. Don't miss the 14th century Abbot's Kitchen, the medieval St Patrick's Chapel, the Lady Chapel and Crypt, and the Great Church. Our Living History guides are available from Easter to the end of October, to help you understand the life and times of the abbey (no extra charge, but it is advisable to book when you enter the site if you would like to join a tour). There are several paths linking areas of interest within the grounds, or you can follow the main path, starting in a tree lined avenue running west to east beside the abbey ruins, which takes you around the site, past the Wildlife area, the wildlife pond, the cider orchard and the fish pond, around the perimeter of the grounds and back past the summer cafe. The paths are largely surfaced with fine gravel and can be uneven in places, tending to slope upwards in places towards the east end of the site. Some parts of the site are only accessible across the grass. Paths are made of a hard bound grit structure with a very fine loose surface. It is good going for both mobility scooters and wheelchairs. The paths are, on average, 52"/1.32m wide. Path are all of a gentle gradient apart from a short ramped section cut through the transept to the south of the nave of the Great Church.
The Abbey & Grounds
When you have bought your ticket, you can leave the reception area in two directions. You can choose to go up the ramp and visit the Museum first, or you can go forward through the main doors into the courtyard, where you will find the toilet facilities and St Patrick's Chapel.
The ramp into the museum from the entrance is made from natural stone slabs with a very gentle. The exit doors to St Patrick's chapel courtyard lead down a very gentle slope made from natural stone slabs. These lead to a Tarmac surface.
Displays and interpretation boards some with pictures; Background music is usually playing in the museum. No flashing lights or loud noises.
As you go up the ramp you will find the Welcome desk, where our volunteers will do their best to help you enjoy your visit and can offer lots of helpful information and activities. They are able to let you know when you can next join one of our Living History tours. This will be led by a costumed guide, giving information about the history of the abbey and the lives of the people who used to live here. Talks are usually held at least once an hour and are free of charge.
If you have particular needs for lip-reading or need a mobile hearing loop, please make this known and we will adapt our presentations to meet your needs. Tours usually last less than an hour, and consist of a walk through the ruins of the churches, the monastery and the Abbot's Kitchen. All these places can be accessed by wheelchair users, but involves crossing grassed areas in some places.
In the museum, (all level, no steps, smooth stone floor) you will find permanent displays telling the development of the abbey from its earliest beginnings through to its ending. You will also find a temporary exhibition gallery, where there will be up to three exhibitions each year on themes relating to aspects of the life of the abbey. Music is played in the background here, and there are sometimes video loops relating to the exhibition playing on the TV screen. You will also find a table with activities for families to try and a beautiful model of what the abbey looked like when it was still standing.
There is lighting from the windows and from fluorescent tubes, as well as spotlights above the displays. This is a calm space and in places the lighting is subdued, to help protect the displays. To go out into the grounds, use the door on the south side of the museum. There are both steps and a ramp here.
The Courtyard & St Patrick's Chapel
If you go through the double doors facing you as you leave the Ticket Desk, you will enter a small courtyard with flower borders and a small church. Access is via a very short ramp down to garden level. The surface of the courtyard is a mixture of paving and Tarmac. There is a statue in the centre of the courtyard with good access all around it. To the left you will find the WCs and to your right, the tiny chapel dedicated to St Patrick.
There are 2 doors into the chapel. The ancient entrance doorway on the north side of St Patrick's Chapel is 31"/800mm wide. It also has a 16"/40mm wide step, with a 3-4" drop on to the stone flooring. The door on the south side has no step, but the access width is just 25"/640mm. The doors open inwards.
The walls here have been decorated in the medieval style and the only lighting is from the two windows, one of which is stained glass. This is usually a quiet space set aside for prayer and meditation, but there is a bell rope for the summoning bell on the roof, which calls people to prayer. Bench seating is provided in the chapel.
As you move towards the back of the courtyard you will see the handrail and ramp for the accessible toilet and the path leading to the WC facilities for the public. There is both external lighting and interior lighting in all the WC cubicles using energy saving florescent bulbs.
The accessible toilet is always open during abbey opening hours and is also used for parents needing a baby-change mat. It has a wooden entrance door with an access width of 35.5"/900mm, leading from a gentle concrete ramp. There is ample space for a wheelchair to the left of the WC. The toilet is 19" /480mm high to the seat top, and the front is 30"/750mm from the wall. The wash hand basin is close to the toilet and is 33"/850mm high. It is fitted with lever operated type taps. There is a grab rail on the wall to the right of the WC. If you have any problems please use the emergency cord which will alert our staff to assist you.
You will find 4 cubicle toilets for ladies and one, with urinal, for gentlemen in addition to the accessible toilet.
The cafe has 8 x 32" high round, dark stained tables with integrated seating on the grass area to the front of the servery. There are 6 wheelchair spaces incorporated around the tables. There are also 4 smaller wooden 37" high slatted tables with separate chairs under the shelter of the cafe.
Currently we do not have a cafe or restaurant available under cover all year round, however we do have a summer cafe open in the grounds from Easter until the end of September, annually. There are tables on the grass, some of which have spaces for wheelchairs and pushchairs to come up to the tables, and some seating in the shelter where we serve teas, coffees, hot and cold drinks, ice creams and various other refreshments. There is a low step onto the floor of the cafe.
Our staff will do their best to meet your dietary needs. Please come to the servery to choose and pay for your food. Waitress service can be provided as necessary and staff will do all that they can to help make your visit pleasant and convenient. We use white crockery and the benches and tables are made of dark wood.
It is a few minutes' walk from the outdoor cafe to the WC facility.
There are many different types of restaurant and cafe in the wider town just a short walk from the abbey gates.
The abbey shop is situated to the left of the main Ticket Entrance of the abbey. There is an access ramp for wheelchair users and those who would rather not use the steps up to the entrance There is no escalator or lift for the shop. Once inside the shop you will find the tills and counter straight ahead of you and the merchandise set out on either side, with plenty of access between the displays. There are displays of merchandise around the perimeter and some free standing displays and carousels in the centre. Wheelchair users can access the tills area from the right side of the service area. Signs indicate that there is a hearing loop system at the till.
Goods are clearly displayed and mostly easy to reach. Our staff will be happy to help you with your purchases. There is usually background music playing in the shop, which is also available to buy.
Grounds & Gardens
The abbey grounds are set on a gentle gradient, with paths linking the main areas of the visit.
The Lady Chapel & Crypt
Most parts of the abbey are accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs, with the exception of the Lady Chapel Crypt and Well, which can only be accessed by stairs. However there is a bridge spanning the Lady Chapel which has glass sides, so that people with restricted mobility can still experience the interior of the crypt. The well area can be viewed externally. A good view of the area can also be obtained from the Galilee, east of the Lady Chapel, again protected by a glass fronted barrier. Seats are available in the alcoves of the crypt chapel and at regular intervals around the grounds, alongside the paths. There is a smooth flagstone floor with a drainage channel running along the centre of the building with a narrow (22mm) drainage gap. Care is required here if visiting in very narrow heels.
The Abbot's Kitchen
Short ramps with handrails, illuminated at night, give access to the Abbot's Kitchen. This building, with its tall roof and tower, was designed for cooking food for the Abbot's guests and has been set out with displays to help you understand the function of the different kinds of equipment and furniture. The floor is smooth flagstones and there is plenty of access around the central table display. Long benches give space for sitting in the cool of the building.
Orchard, Herb Garden & Fish Pond
There are grassy paths through the orchard, around the herb garden and around the wildlife pond which may cause some problems for wheelchairs or pushchairs, but the main perimeter path passes close to these areas and allows access close to the fish pond. Please be aware that there is no barrier around the fish pond and it is very deep with a narrow stone pavement at the lip of the pond which is not suitable for wheelchairs. Parents are advised to keep their children under close supervision in this part of the grounds. Safety notices warn of the dangers here and there is a lifebelt to assist anyone who falls into the pond. There are benches near the pond for resting and for picnicking.
The Wildlife Pond
At the wildlife pond, the path takes a detour across a wooden bridge which bisects one side of the pond. The bridge is made of wooden slats and may be slippery when wet. It is wide enough to allow wheelchairs and pushchairs Please take care in this area. Currently (2015), there is a section of the path which is out of bounds due to subsidence. The path here is steep and narrow and not advisable for wheelchairs. Families are asked to keep children under close supervision in this area. Safety notices warn of the dangers here and there is a lifebelt to assist anyone who falls into the pond. There are benches near the pond for resting and for picnicking.
Badger Setts & Wildlife Area
There is a bark path through the wildlife area at the top end of the grounds which will be soft going in damp weather. Part of this path is along a slatted boardwalk, past the main badger setts, and for the most part this path is broad and level, but may be slippery when wet. There are benches available at intervals.
At a gentle pace, it would take around 45 minutes to walk the main perimeter path. Please allow more time if you wish to explore the woodland and orchard areas as you go round. A visit to the ruins of the Great Church, the Lady Chapel and the Abbot's Kitchen with a costumed guide will probably take another hour, and you should also allow time to visit the museum, and St Patrick's Chapel.
We are committed to making the abbey and events held at the abbey accessible to everyone. We may provide disabled ticket holders (who would be unable to attend without a PA - personal assistant / carer / essential companion) with a ticket at no additional cost for their PA, if they are in receipt of one of the following:
- Middle or Higher rate DLA for care and/or mobility
- Receipt of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Evidence of being severely sight impaired
- CredAbility Access Card (+1 category requirement), see www.accesscard.org.uk
- A recognised Assistance Dog ID Card
If you do not have any of the above evidence but are unable to attend the abbey without a PA you are welcome to post or email copies of any additional evidence that supports your application. Applications are judged on a case-by-case basis. Tickets for events are sold on a first come, first served basis.
If the event is organised by an external organisation, the above will not necessarily apply and you will need to liaise directly with the organisers. If you wish to contact the organisers please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch.
How to apply
Please call our shop on 01458 831631 and arrange to either show the relevant documents in person or to email or post copies.
Front of House staff have all received Disability Awareness Training which is updated regularly.
In the event of any emergency the muster point is outside the main doors of the Ticket Office and Museum complex. Staff will be on hand to advise you if the alarm should sound during your visit.
The abbey is a dog friendly site and assistance dogs are always welcomed. You will find a water bowl in St Patrick's Courtyard and several collection bins for dog waste around the grounds. Plastic bags for the collection of dog waste are available from the Ticket Office on request. Dogs must be kept on a short lead at all times to ensure the safety of the ducks around the ponds, and to maintain the tranquillity of the wildlife areas.
Glastonbury Abbey is situated at the heart of the town of Glastonbury. If you would like details of local points of interest, places to stay, good places to eat etc, please speak to one of our staff or volunteers who will be able to help you find the information you need. The Tourist Information Centre on the High Street, about 500 yards from the abbey, will also have lots of information to help you with access issues.
Developments to the Site
You may find it helpful to buy a guide book as you start your visit to the abbey. Currently there is only a small amount of information available as you walk around the grounds. However, we are preparing a new suite of information and interpretation for the abbey and its surroundings, using modern digital techniques, which we hope will have been installed by 2017 at the latest.
+44 (0) 1458 832267
X Easting 349922, Y Northing 138878
Lat 51.146965 Long -2.7172923
Hours of operation: The abbey opens at 09.00 daily except for Christmas Day.
The abbey closes: June, July, August, at 20.00; September, October, November, at 17.00; December, January, February, at 16.00; March, April, May, at 18.00.
Last entry 30 minutes before closing.