From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

"an ancient municipal burg and market-town in the county of Somerset, twenty-five miles southwest of Bath, is built in the form of a cross, and occupies a peninsula formed by the river Brue or Brent, called the Isle of Avalon. Pop. (1861) 3593. The town owes its origin to its celebrated abbey, which, according to tradition, was founded in A.D. 60, and was one of the earliest seats of Christianity in Britain. Its traditionary founder was Joseph of Arimathea, and the 'miraculous thorn,' which flowered on Christmasday, was, till the time of the Puritans, believed by the common people to be the veritable staff with which Joseph aided his steps from the Holy Land. The tree was destroyed during the civil wars, but grafts from it still flourish in the neighboring gardens. In A.D. 605 the monks adopted the dress and rules of the Benedictine order. This magnificent pile at one time covered sixty acres but as most of the houses in Glastonbury, and also a causeway across Sedgemoor, have been constructed of the materials, the extent of the ruins is now much diminished. The most interesting remains are the Abbey Church, with St. Joseph's Chapel, St. Mary's Chapel, and the Abbot's Kitchen. St. Joseph's Chapel is one of the most elegant specimens in existence of the transition from Norman to early English architecture, and is supposed to have been erected during the reigns of Henry II and Richard I. It is now roofless, and the vaulting of the crypt is nearly destroyed. The entrance is adorned with sculpture. Below the floor is a Norman crypt, within which is St. Joseph's Well. Of the Abbey Church few fragments remain. The Chapel of St. Mary is roofless, but the remains of its pointed windows and arches are exceedingly elegant. The Abbot's Kitchen, now separate from the rest of the ruins, is a square massive structure, the walls strongly buttressed, and dates from about the 15th century. Glastonbury has the honor of ranking St. Patrick (A.D. 415) and St. Dunstan among its abbots. In 1539 Henry VIII summoned abbot Whiting to surrender Glastonbury and all its treasures; and on his refusal, condemned him to be hanged and quartered, and the monastery confiscated to the king's use, which sentence was immediately carried into execution. According to tradition, king Arthur and his queen Guinever were buried in the cemetery of the abbey; and Giraldus Cambrensis states that a leaden cross, bearing the following inscription, "Hic jacet sepultus inclytus Rex Arthurus in insula Avallonia," was found under a stone seven feet below the surface, and nine feet below this was found an oaken coffin, containing dust and bones.' This disinterment took place by order of Henry II. The only other objects of interest at Glastonbury are the Church of St. Benedict; the Church of St. John the Baptist, with a tower 140 feet high; the Weary-all Hill, where Joseph of Arimathea rested from his weary pilgrimage; and the Tor Hill, where the last abbot of Glastonbury was put to death, 500 feet above the sea-level, crowned by a beautiful tower, the ruin of a pilgrimage chapel of St. Michael."

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

An ancient town in Somersetshire, 36 m. S. of Bristol, on the Brue; it is associated with many interesting legends and historical traditions that point to its existence in very early times; thus it was the Avalon of Arthurian legend, and the place where Joseph of Arimathea, when he brought the Holy Grail, is said to have founded the first Christian Church; ruins are still extant of the old abbey founded by Henry II., which itself succeeded the ancient abbey of St. Dunstan; there is trade in gloves, mats, rugs, &c.