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History of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage

Elected Chairman of W.E.P.A. was the Revd A.H. Luetchford of All Saints, Clifton, Harry Sharpe became Secretary, Roland Harvey, Treasurer, and Bob Godfrey. Chief Steward. News that the Archbishop of Canterbury would visit Wells in May 1947 led Lionel Lewis to invite him to lead Pilgrimage that year (elastic dates) or 1948. Dr Fisher declined as the latter clashed with Lambeth Conference. Newspapers reported 2000 pilgrims in attendance and the BBC broadcast its first radio programme lasting 15 minutes in 1948.

By 1949, our Bishops. Bradfield of Bath & Wells and Thomas of Taunton were fully involved again. A year later Lionel Lewis retired. He died in 1953, well over 80 years old. In 1950 the BBC Television Unit made the first film of the Pilgrimage. 1951 was Festival of Britain year. Before a crowd of 2000, in the evening after the Pilgrimage, there was a pageant in 10 episodes depicting the History and Legends of Glastonbury.

Thousands also attended the Roman Catholic pilgrimage at which 14 crosses, each weighing 160 lbs were processed and erected in the Convent field. The Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Godfrey, the Archbishop of Birmingham and the Bishop of Clifton attended.

Up to 1953 the pattern of the Anglican pilgrimage had been an 8am Holy Communion in St Joseph's Chapel, a sung Eucharist (High Mass) in St John, followed by the afternoon Procession and Evensong in the Abbey. Now, Bishop Bradfield gave his consent and presence to High Mass in the ruined Abbey Church. Reports stated that 6000 pilgrims participated and the current tradition was born.

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