AVision of Glastonbury - 2004

(20.04.2004 - A private unpublished note)

 The Broad Vision

I see the emergence of Glastonbury as an internationally known spiritual centre.  A model of a new way of living appropriate to the early 21st century.  This is a place that will draw people in search of their own spiritual understanding and a place where people can live in a community of people who share the same values but not the same beliefs.This new centre will be a model upon which other centres may be based in the UK and in other counties.  There are at least six other sister (brother?) centres that will emerge over the next few years.   It is important that Glaston firstly identifies and then works with these sister centres, in sharing the experience of building these new centres.

 We are building something completely new  but have the guidance of the models of similar spiritual and academic centres which have  been established in the past -  for example

  • Oxford university with its “Gown” community and”Town” community.
  • Canterbury cathedral with its Cathedral staff and the town.
  • The Abbey of Glaston with its monks and town.
  • Santiago de Compestella with its cathedral and pilgrim staff and town. 

It seems that in Glaston the town part of the centre is running perfectly well with its town council and other bodies. The spiritual part of the town is active and alive but is not working as an understandable whole. It is this aspect upon which we need to concentrate if the town as a whole is to reach its full potential.

Its full potential is two fold:

  •  A centre of pilgrimage with offering full support for visiting pilgrims
  • A community sharing the experience of living a life of the spirit.

 There is ample guidance available if we are able to clearly hear it.

 Everything that is needed in the way of people, skills, experience and resources is already here.   What is still needed is a better understanding of who is doing what and what new organisations, if any, may need to be set up by the existing people to allow the centre to come into full realisation

Below are the aspects of the centre which we need to look at. Details given in alphabetical order.

The current availability gven in italics



  • Most people find their own houses or flats to buy or rent.
  • Need temporary help with B&B accommodation when they first arrive
  • Enough B&B’s, houses and flats

Arts and Crafts

  • Need help with studios, marketing and marketing advice
  • Partially available

Central Office – Information

  • Information on all aspects of the community
  • Partially available through word of mouth.  No one person knows all the services available
  • Needs data base, office, people to staff it
  • Wise people to give advice and guidance

Community gathering places

  • Indoor and outdoor venues – could be Temple like place
  • A number of suitable places are available but not enough – Chalice Well, Assembly Rooms, hired rooms, a number of small chapels. – Better use of the Abbey grounds and Churches would be helpful.


  • Help and guidance with spiritual and emotional problems
  • Quite a lot of counselling skills available – may not concentrate upon spiritual situations

Employment Agency

  • Office giving a service of linking jobs and people - specifically designed for spiritual community.
  • Doesn’t exist but Development Trust in process of setting one up.

Enterprise Centre

  • Advice and practical help with administration, marketing and finance for people starting up new community ventures.
  • Chamber of Commerce helps businesses but not community ventures
  • Development Trust is setting to provide this help


  • Spiritually orientated education – consciousness raising, spiritual practice, meditation etc.
  • A lot of educational courses being offered – there is a shortage of courses in” non weird” language that could be academically accredited.   Glastonbury Trust is interested in this 


  • Shops and other sources of food
  • Supermarkets and markets probably OK
  • Cafes well supplied during the day – not at night


  • A range of participatory groups.
  • A very varied selection already available- more information in who is doing what would be helpful - It would then be possible to see what is not being done.


  • Range of healing and medical services.
  • Well supplied – more information on what is available would be helpful.


  • Properly integrated collection of local web sites – preferably accessed through one comprehensive portal.
  • Glastonbury Online has made a good start on this


  • A comprehensive library of the spirit – Complete with a collection of classics if all ages –should have research facilities.
  • The Library of Avalon is a good basis for this – it needs to link up with other esoteric libraries in Glastonbury and the rest of England so that researchers know where to find rare books – needs enough room to display its books, a reading room and staff.


  • Ability to manufacture local specialities for sale to pilgrims
  • Quite a few facilities already exist – needs research to find out exactly what.

Office Spaces

  • Inexpensive serviced office space for start up ventures
  • Development Trust already doing this – could be further expanded if demand is there


  • A well organised programme of marketing the town as a centre of pilgrimage and some people actively involved with contacting other centres in the UK and abroad.
  • Quite bit off activity being done by individuals – nothing organised.


  • Access to professional publicity skills for all community ventures
  • Could be through skill clusters – see below.


  • A specialised publishing house
  • There are already a number of independent publishing activities-, Gothic Image, Avalon Magazine, Kathy Jones, Gareth Mills etc etc. Perhaps some form of co-operation might produce more effective results – particularly helpful in reducing production costs and strengthened marketing and distribution.


  • Research seems to be a vital part of the whole concept.
  • The Development Trust has already made a good start on this – they are carrying out a survey of 2,000 adults in Glastonbury and have trained some 30 researchers.  Their help could be enlisted if funds could be found.

 Rooms for Hire

  • Rooms for carrying out workshops etc.
  • Probably already have sufficient.

Retreat Centres

  • Residential Centres where retreats can be staged
  • There is shortage of these centres.  There is a large facility at Millfield School, a smaller but good centre at Earth Spirit - but a long way out of town, and a number of smaller centres such as Chalice Well.  A larger facility in Glastonbury is needed.

Sacred Sites

  • Open spaces with recognised energies
  • We have plenty of these – might be good to document their energies for information of pilgrims.

Selling and distribution

  • Organise the sale and distribution of artefacts and artworks
  • Some efforts already exist in this direction – e.g. Heartfelt Trading - but could be substantially improved. 


  • Shops needed to sell the goods needed by local community and visiting pilgrims
  • Probably OK

Skill clusters

Grouping together independent individuals with similar skills

Supporting each group with centralised specialised administrative, marketing and financial skills.

  • Very much needed – Potential clusters are:
  • Photography, Films and Videos
  • Web design and computer skills
  • Writing and editorial
  • Publicity and Marketing
  • Healing and Counselling etc
  • The Development Trust is starting to look at this 

Social support

  • Active support and practical help for those in need of material, emotional and spiritual support
  • Exists through the state and through individual friends – could probably be improved


  • There is no theatre in Glastonbury – a good theatre would be a great asset.
  • Strode College and Millfield School both have excellent theatres – but in Street.
  • In Glastonbury there are the Assembly Rooms with primitive facilities – and the town hall with doubtful acoustics. 

Town Services

  • All the usual supply of goods
  • Well equipped with supermarkets and shops – and other facilities in Street – OK if you have a car !


  • Need for wide range if training courses – in practical skills and esoteric subjects.
  • Some training is available in Glastonbury - Strode College also offer a wide range of courses but these tend not to be targeted at the needs of the spiritual community of Glastonbury. Strode is a business and will only put on courses which they understand and believe that they can fill.  The Development Trust has already set up a number of specialist courses, have organised the training to be provided by Strode, and have supplied all the customers needed to fill the courses. There is considerable scope here for expanding this co-operation.

Wealth generating activities

  • Individuals have their own income but the community as a whole needs an income if the community projects are to be set up.
  • Needs some  thought – Glastonbury Trust has funded some  educational and religious projects – maybe a community  fund needs setting up – or tithing by companies and individuals to some sort of central fund.

Workshop Spaces

  • Small manufacturers need serviced space at reasonable cost
  • There are various plans for “incubator” units on Morlands – probably all quite a long way off. 


All the above plus:

Pilgrim Information Centre

  • An information centre providing information specifically required by Pilgrims –
  • This does not exist at present.  Could possibly be an adjunct of the community information centre? Virtually all the required information will be on the data base.  May need specially trained staff with experience of the needs of pilgrims and where to access the appropriate services.


  • Short and long term accommodation for visitors
  • This is quiet good at B&B level during most of the year but not in mid summer and during major events.  Hotel accommodation is far from satisfactory – the town really needs a good hotel


  • Pilgrims need all meals except breakfast
  • Café are not satisfactory in the evenings

Other Services

  • needs more thought