Glastonbury Abbey’s Lady Chapel, crypt and galilee need urgent conservation to prevent crumbling away of fragile medieval stonework.
The new Rescue Our Ruins Appeal has been launched to find the funds to preserve this unique and beautiful building for future generations.
The Lady Chapel is one of three areas which will benefit from the Abbey’s appeal, launched last month, to raise £500,000 for major conservation and visitor enhancement projects.
To date just over £2,000 has been raised and Janet Bell, acting director said: “The response in a matter of weeks has been very encouraging. To have raised this money in just a short space of time is an achievement and we are very grateful to everyone who has donated and given us their support. We are now hoping shops and organisations will take a collection box or offer sponsorship and we are planning more fund-raising events to help further.”
The money raised will fund work in the following areas:
The Lady Chapel is of national importance, says Janet, it is the earliest standing building on the site and was the first to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1184.
She said: “NormallyLady Chapels, so called because they are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, are located at the east end of the church. Glastonbury has an unusual layout as the Lady Chapel is located at the West end. “It was one of the most venerated places in the abbey. It is thought that the chapel was served by its own monks with their own set of services and open for pilgrims to use.
“The building is very unusual as it is essentially a Romanesque structure built at a time when Gothic architecture was really taking hold in Britain and the monks and masons would have been quite familiar with buildings in Gothic style – such as Wells Cathedral..
“It seems that the Lady Chapel was deliberately rebuilt to look similar to the old church. Its form is similar to that of a casket or relic box.
“Clearly the monks wanted to maintain a difference between the early and later churches. Glastonbury was obsessed with its antiquity and wanted to commemorate the life and function of the Old Church.”
The building is a cocktail of different types of stone - mainly Doulting stone is used but this is the only building on site where there is architectural salvage from the previous building. This is shown by the use of paler Bath Stone, which was used in the Anglo–Saxon period.
Says Janet: “A lot of money was spent on the decoration of the interior of the building and it would have been richly decorated and very colourful.
“The evidence of wall painting is a rare survival and is extremely important because of its early date. Most of the surviving paint is on the band of intersecting arches above the lower wall arcading and can best be seen above the south doorway.
“The colours included white, yellow ochre, red, black, green and gold. The gold and ultramarine/blue (made from lapis lazuli imported from the mines of what is now Afghanistan) were the most costly. Evidence was found on the cusps inside each arch head of red/vermillion, blue/ultramarine.”
To find out more about the appeal visit www.rescueourruins.co.uk