Is this hallowed ground the seat of Europe’s oldest church?

October 18, 2015


Wattle Church

SACRED GROUND: The foundations of the Wattle Church are said to have this inscription written on it when it was discovered in 1921: The first ground of God, the first ground of the Saints of Britain and the burial place of the Saints.”

Our Lady of Glastonbury

WESTERN VIEW: This is the abbey church looking west and how tourists view Arthur’s grave. This is the arch where the pilgrimage conducts its annual mass in the grounds every summer. Pilgrims are holding a statue representing the shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury.



Fr John Ives & Karl

TOWN GUIDE: Father John Ives, with Karl Lyons, one of his congregation outside the St Patrick’s Chapel in Glastonbury Abbey after conducting an Orthodox service to mark a key date in the church’s calendar. He has written a book called Clouds of Witnesses; A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Sites of Glastonbury, a combination of observations and prayers linked to each historical site in the town.


GLASTONBURY Abbey is reputed to have the remains of Europe’s oldest church in its grounds.

According to the Western rite of the Orthodox Church, the town is recognised as an important place of pilgrimage and takes seriously the legend that Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of the Virgin Mary, brought the boy Jesus (his great-nephew) to the town when he was trading in metals both in the Somerset Levels and in Cornwall, landing at St Michael’s Mount.

The town was originally a sea port in the Roman era. It later became an impassable marsh and then a freshwater lake after the rains. Since then most of the Levels have been reclaimed as farmland.

When he arrived, he planted his staff in a hill known as Wearyall Hill which is said to miraculously flowered in a hawthorn tree called the Glastonbury Thorn and whose offshoots can be seen to this day. The tree is of a Middle Eastern variety.

The story is the inspiration behind the alternative English anthem of Jerusalem is widely sung by the Women’s Institute at the beginning of their meetings.

For me it was great to visit old haunts as I lived in this area for 10 years with Glastonbury, along with Street and Somerton, being my local towns based as a triangle around a lovely village that I called home for that period of my life.

After the crucifixion of Jesus, Joseph is said to have come to the town as a refugee with 12 acolytes to build this purpose-built church, the wattle church – its ground level is marked out in the Glastonbury Abbey grounds.

Tradition says Joseph was welcomed by the Druids and allocated twelve ‘hides’ of land to build and support a wattle church and its community.

Said to have died in the town, Joseph’s successors saw Christianity falter in subsequent decades and the wattle church survived until 433, when St Patrick founded the monastic community that would bring into the existence the development of the abbey.

They believe Glastonbury was the first Christian church in the West and it consisted of a combination of mysticism and druid-influenced form of worship. This was in contrast to the doctrine and institutionalism of the early Roman Catholic Church.

Dating this church has not always been straight forward but St Gildas, a monk who was himself connected to the site, put the coming of Christianity to Britain as the height of Tiberius’ reign and this could have been as early as within five years of the Crucifixion and before the Roman conquest.

Despite the town being the subject of fights and invasion by the Saxons, Britons and Danes, the wattle church survived and the old church was preserved.

A brass tablet base covering the foundations of the wattle church was discovered in 1921 after one thousand years and the inscription bore the following words: “The first ground of God, the first ground of the Saints of Britain and the burial place of the Saints.”

The wattle church lacked a baptistry so it is assumed that the first converts were baptised in a local river or alternative water source.

According to Ivor C Fletcher in Chapter Four of the Glastonbury Story, he claims that any of the second century British church challenged the antiquity of the Glastonbury church.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl Lyons October 23, 2015 at 7:03 pm

It is a shame the powers that be won’t allow Fr John and his community to worship God in the Wattle Church. Do they think Christianity is assigned to the history books with just some tourists to take photos of a bygone era? “H E L L O !” There are millions of us out here still worshipping The Living God!


amieanddave October 24, 2015 at 7:37 pm

It is important to know that names in the TESTAMENTS.. were actually titles ..EG ..Jesus ( king to be ./prince in waiting )… Mary ( beloved of ..).. Joseph ( ho tekton / master of the craft …. Arimathea as a place never existed …the closest you get is Rameth Judea… i put it to all that.. . JOSEPH of ARIMATHEA .is none other than JESUS’S brother JAMES THE JUST ……..HO TEKTON HA RAMMA THEOS…….Translating as……. master of the craft of the highest of GOD ….The Jesus who came to ENGLAND with Joseph was none other than JESUS THE 2ND.. Son of the CRUCIFIED …..The song Jerusalem…is indeed about Jesus,,just not the one you think it is ……

The rich man of Jerusalem, the Prince of David Joseph of Arimathea, had a Roman contract to mine and transport lead, antimony, silver, and tin from the land on the Cornwall peninsula of ancient Britain. The power of his influence was extensive, for he was not only of the royal Solomonic linage of King David, as a Davidian heir, he could legitimately take over the rule of JUDEA from Herod

Joseph of Arimathea gave the future Pendragon of Britain the Torah Law of Retaliation and Retribution. With the power of the Divine, it was an honor and a privilege to defend the laws giving freedom to all mankind. Along with this Torah law were given the symbols of the messianic Jewish faith that the sovereignty of the Divine would guide him into battle. As Caradoc had promised royal protection to the refugees from Israel, Joseph gave him the reverence to the “cross”, the symbol of the execution tree with the crossbar upon which the Messiah was hung. In the most bitterest of battles, over forty in all, the Pendragon Caradoc, the Arviragus or “High King” of Britain fought not just for his countrymen, but fought for the sovereign God of Israel. Many scholars claim that Caratacus fought the first Christian wars, but Christian he was not and Christians there were not any. There was no such thing as a Christian in the first four decades of the 1st century

The Pendragon was fighting for the protection that his promises and honor demanded. As history would defend, by the promise against the intrusion of the legions of Rome, the countryside on both sides of the Severn River was held fast by the Cymric Silurian Welsh. It was a secure zone in which the legions of the Caesars Caligula, Octavian, and Nero were never able to penetrate. The fear of the legions was profound. As they marched across the landscape of Britain, they uprooted and destroyed everything that was Druidic and Jewish. Together in the minds of the Caesars, the Druids and the Jews were one. When Tiberius Caesar exiled the Jews from Rome in 42 CE, he also launched a massive invasion with five of the best generals of Rome upon the Isle of Britannia. It was their military intent to conquer the Island of Britain for Rome and to destroy the religious centers of the Druids and the Jewish Nazarenes, who already were sending waves of missionaries into Gaul that incited the population to fight for their divine rights as freemen.



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