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History of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage

It is sad that the Minute Book of all meetings of Council and AGMs prior to 1959 has been lost, nor do we have any material on the years 1 954-1958. Thereafter there is a wealth of matter, which will be condensed here.

We have been fortunate in the support of so many Bishops, especially our own Diocesans. In the mid '80s we conceived the idea of a 'lead Diocese'. In 1986 our Bishops came from Salisbury, in 1987 from Gloucester, in 1989 from Oxford and 1990 from Truro. This boosted attendance from parishes, which might not otherwise have come. Successive Chairmen have invited the Archbishop of Canterbury. but without success until 1988 when Fr Peter Hawkins persuaded Dr Robert Runcie to celebrate with us the Millennium of St Dunstan, a special Glastonbury/Canterbury occasion. The Archbishop's concern that he could not spend the evening before the Petertide ordinations with his candidates, was overcome by flying him from Manston to Yeovil 'fixed wing' and then direct into the Abbey grounds by helicopter provided very kindly by Westlands, for the Noon Mass. Leaving early afternoon, he was back in Canterbury by early evening. Improved motorways. faster and more comfortable coaches have brought more pilgrims from further afield.

From the '60s to the '80s, average numbers attending have increased from 5,000 to 8,000 and the coaches from 60/70 to 110/120. Where there were 2.000/3,000 communicants in the sixties and 3,000/4,000 in the seventies, there are 5,000 today. This has required more communion stations, the purchase of our own vessels. the need for more priests to administer.

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