We know little of the musical and theatrical performances being staged in early Glastonbury but there are a few interesting features. There is the story, which may be a legend, of the three great Perpetual Choirs of Britain. Various places are given for the setting of these choirs, the most popular being Salisbury, Glastonbury and various places in Wales.
In 1801, Iolo Morganwg recorded that in each of these choirs there were 2,400 saints; that is there were a hundred for every hour of the day and the night in rotation, perpetuating the praise and service of God without rest or intermission. The function of the choirs was to maintain the enchantment and peace of Britain.
There is also the power of the Gregorian chant that was performed in the seven daily services of a Benedictine Abbey. This was not only a method of reaching the divine through prayer but was also seen as a powerful political force. In the 9th Century the emperor Charlemagne imposed by force the practice of Gregorian chant "to forge the cultural and political unity of his kingdom".
In the 20th and 21st Centuries
In the 20th century the performing arts in Glastonbury took on a new lease of life. Rutland Boughton staged his opera, ‘The Immortal Hour’, in the Assembly Rooms, and Alice Buckton staged pageants in the town depicting Arthurian legends, with a cast of members of the local community, not least young farmers on huge farm horses posing as Knights of the Round Table.
Today the performing arts are flourishing in Glastonbury. There are numerous musicians, evening performances, plays, an annual pantomime staged in the Assembly Rooms, the chanting of the Druidical Bards and the singing of our splendid Avalonian Free State Choir.
Below are links to pages with more information. The links that are coloured blue have a page (complete with content) associated with them, while the links that do not yet have a page connected with them are coloured red. Where there is no content, or links, you are invited to contribute copy for this site. Please read Contributing to find out more.
- Avalon Anthem
- Avalonian Free State Choir
- Bardic Chair of Ynys Witrin
- Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts
- Glastonbury Fringe Festival
- Glastonbury Town Players
Please note that on the pages listed in this section as they deal with past years the contact details have been omitted, because they are likely to not be relevant in the current time.
Return to the Arts page.